Like many hardware stores, Lowe's offers a hardwood flooring installation service. While this may sound convenient, it's likely to add significantly to the price of your project. If you want to save a few hundred dollars -- the actual price of a fully-installed floor will vary depending on the size of the area you're covering -- it's really not that difficult to do the job yourself. Once you've got all the necessary equipment together and made sure you understand the process, it's a relatively straightforward DIY project.
Things You'll Need
- Moisture test kit
- Hardwood floor planks
- Safety glasses
- Pry bar
- Wood glue
- Tapping block
- Tape measure
- Dust mask
- Knee pads
Check the moisture level of your subfloor with a moisture test kit before purchasing the flooring. Discuss the moisture level you record with a Lowe's associate to establish the best underlayment and hardwood planks for your installation.
Place the flooring in the room where it will go and let it rest for at least 72 hours before beginning the installation to allow it to acclimatize to the ambient heat and moisture levels.
Sweep the subfloor with a broom to prepare it for the installation.
Inspect your hardwood boards for any defects. According to Lowe's, you will typically find that around 5 percent of the boards will be unusable and should be discarded. If you find that over 5 percent of your boards are unusable, contact a Lowe's associate.
Remove any baseboard, shoe molding or trim from the walls with a pry bar and hammer. Be careful not to tear or rip out the material as you will be reinstalling it later.
Put on safety glasses and install the underlayment as per the manufacturer's instructions. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the underlayment to see if it needs to be secured to the floor in any way. Some underlayment products come with an adhesive side that needs to be stuck to the floor. The underlayment should be laid in the same direction as the planks.
Lay the first piece of flooring along a straight wall with the groove facing out into the room. Use spacers to create an expansion gap between the plank and the wall. As real wood expands and contracts with temperature and moisture level changes, an expansion gap will allow your planks room to move without damaging your floor. Check the instructions provided with the flooring for the manufacturer's recommended expansion gap size.
Apply glue to the tongue of another piece of flooring and insert it into the groove of the plank you've just laid. Place a nylon tapping block at the end of the plank you've just laid and strike it with a hammer to make sure it's firmly in place. The tapping block prevents the hammer from damaging your wood.
Measure the space at the end of the first row if it won't accommodate a full-length plank. Mark this length on a piece of flooring and cut it with a saw to fit. Remember to account for the expansion gap in your measurements. Make sure you have the correct blade for the type of wood you're using.
Ensure there is a gap of at least 6 inches between the boards you lay when you start the second row and repeat the process for laying the first. Lowe's recommends you use planks of varying grain and color, as you work, to give your floor a "random" finish.
Cut the final row to fit when you reach the other side of the room. Remember not to account for the tongue but do factor in the expansion gap.
Remove the spacers, place the transition strips into the expansion gap and replace or install any baseboards or shoe molding, as needed, after you've trimmed away any excess underlayment with the utility knife.
Tips & Warnings
- Use knee pads to protect your knees while installing your flooring and a dust mask while sawing the planks.
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