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Preventing Pitfalls During Wood Floor Installation

One of the main ways to ensure the good structural integrity, durability, and long-lasting power of your wooden floor is by making sure its installation is performed properly and professionally. There are many pitfalls that can be caused by a poorly performed fitting process and there are many issues that the floor may struggle with later on due to this problem. Therefore, today we would like to discuss more wood floor installation and how to avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls during the fitting process.

How High Moisture Levels Affect Floor Performance

Controlling the moisture with damp metre

Some of the most common issues with a wooden floor are caused exactly by high moisture levels. Excessive moisture levels can have many sources, therefore there are many aspects that need to be considered before the wood floor installation begins. First off, one of the main sources of high moisture levels may be the moisture contained in the subfloor, especially when it comes to a concrete subfloor.

Secondly, the overall moisture levels in the room or area, where installation is planned, may be higher than what is recommended for a proper wood floor installation. Unfortunately, moisture at job sites is not the easiest thing to control, therefore you should ensure professional assistance and performance in order to prevent moisture issues that will affect the durability and condition of the floor. Here are some of the best and most popular recommendations to avoid such problems.

Recommendations for Ensuring Good Moisture Level During Floor Fitting

There are many factors that affect the overall environment at the job site and all of them should be taken into account in order to ensure proper and efficient wood floor installation. The ambient temperature at the job site along with the relative humidity during the time of installation is very important. There are many variables that can affect the wooden floor and its installation and only really experienced and knowledgeable professionals know exactly what to do in order to ensure the best conditions at the job site during installation. Here are some main guidelines:

  • The building should be conditioned to the level of moisture and humidity expected during service life.
  • The subfloor must be properly prepared and its moisture level checked before the delivery of the wood flooring and also before the start of the installation process.
  • The moisture content of both the wood floorboards and the subfloor should be within 2% for boards that are three inches in width or wider and within 4% for boards that are less than three inches in width.
  • The subfloor should be levelled and even and the same applies to the flooring construction itself.

What Happens When Moisture Conditions Are Too High?

Cupping of a wooden plank

Moisture can affect the wood in many ways. While wood, being a natural material with a natural response to changes in its environment, can pretty much withstand the impact of moisture on its own in most cases, when the moisture levels are really excessive, this can cause a bunch of problems and issues with the floor. Generally speaking, moisture makes the wooden floorboards expand and contract. This is a natural movement and usually, the wooden boards will be back in their original shape soon enough.

However, sometimes the impact of moisture is so massive that the boards expand to an extent where they get damaged, distressed, cupping, ballooning, even getting broken. When the expansion is restricted, the edges of the floorboards may get ridged upwards and this will apply a lot of pressure to the fasteners along with the tongue of the boards, which can impact the structural integrity of the floor and damage the floorboards. Also, the expansion of the wooden floorboards along with tight joints along the end joints of the flooring boards can lead to a very noisy and squeaky floor as a result of high traffic.

Expansion areas around the perimeter of the room can leave not enough room for the full expansion of the flooring boards, which can damage the boards seriously. This is why the expansion gap is something very important and should be left during the installation process. The most common reason for cupping of the floorboards is caused by the higher moisture levels of the subfloor that has not been properly prepared and dried before the start of the installation.

In case the moisture levels on site have not been under control during the installation process and the preparation of the subfloor along with the fitting of the flooring boards have been performed poorly, noise from the flooring and other issues with the floorboards can occur anytime. Besides the more popular and obvious issues due to high moisture levels and improper installation and preparation, it is important to mention also the risk of occurrence of gaps between the floorboards that significantly decreases the insulation of the floor and affects its stability.

How to Minimise the Risk?

Besides always making sure you are hiring a highly professional and experienced wood floor installation team with a good knowledge of how to deal with different situations and different issues, there are a few more things that can be done for ensuring a stable, solid, and durable wood flooring structure that will last and be enjoyed for many decades.

Check the crawlspace

Make sure to check the crawlspace and if it is conditioned, or if there is a vapour barrier membrane installed on the crawlspace ground. Make sure it is properly and adequately ventilated prior to the wood floor installation.

Consider how to remove excessive moisture

There are methods you can use for removing excessive moisture from the entire interior of the room and also the floor itself prior to the installation of the floorboards. For example, you can use an auxiliary dehumidifier on site. The goal is to decrease the moisture levels to the one recommended by the floor’s manufacturer.

Follow the recommended fastener schedule

Or you can also consider augmenting the attachment by spacing the fasteners at closer intervals. Tighter fastener schedules are ok as long as the tongue and core material is not compromised or split during the installation process.

Flooring fasteners meeting manufacturer’s recommendations

You should also make sure that the diameter and the length of the flooring fasteners meet or even exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Consider using flooring glue in addition

You can also consider using high-quality and approved wood flooring adhesive in addition to the recommended fastener schedule.

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