Installing Hardwood Flooring

The choice for flooring at the 2009 HGTV Dream Home in Sonoma, Calif., is Bellawood hardwood floors from Lumber Liquidators. Installation of the prefinished floors is easy, with no sanding or staining required.

The flooring installation process begins with subfloor preparation, which cannot be rushed or ignored if success is the goal. After drywall is installed, it’s important to scrape the subfloors to remove all the drywall mud. It’s also important to ensure no squeaky spots remain, says Bruce Lee, HGTV Dream Home builder.

“If there's any possibility of a squeak, you want to repair it before you start laying the floor. And if there are any uneven surfaces, you want to take care of those issues because you don't want that transferring through your floor and later trying to fix the squeaks from underneath the house,” Lee says.

Once floor preparation is done, it’s time to lay down a vapor barrier. “Determine the direction of the wood. Put your vapor barrier down, and then start laying it out in random lengths and then pulling it to yourself and start stapling it down,” Lee says.

At this point, the next step is to pull the flooring pieces out of the boxes. Upon opening a box of prefinished hardwood flooring, the pieces are at random lengths, so it’s important to have a vision of the final flooring pattern, so color variation makes sense, he says.

“When you open up a box of prefinished flooring, you wan to pay attention to the different colors, which is really what makes the floor. But you want to put them in a random pattern so they complement each other,” Lee explains.

When flooring pieces are finally laid down, it’s smart to establish a straight line and set the first row along it. Once that’s done, use a rubber mallet to pound the pieces together, then staple them down to keep them in place, he adds.

Another critical step in the hardwood flooring installation process is making sure a gap exists around the perimeter for expansion in reaction to the local climate. The last piece of hardwood around the perimeter, or when getting close to the wall, typically can't be nailed or stapled down. “And so what you have to do is use glue,” Lee says. “The glue holds it in place cause you can't really surface-nail it because it's prefinished.”