Can I Install Hardwood Floors On A Slab?
If you want to install a new floor but currently have a concrete slab for flooring, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to install a hardwood floor. Fortunately, even if your home was built on a concrete slab, you can still choose to put in new hardwood flooring. Using a professional installer will ensure that the job is done correctly. When installing a hardwood floor on a slab, it’s necessary to carefully manage moisture levels and minimize issues from expanding and contracting. A professional knows just how to do this and can ensure everything is installed correctly and looks incredible.
These are the steps that you and your contractor will need to follow to install hardwood floors over a concrete slab.
Remove Existing Flooring
Of course, if you want to install new flooring, it’s often best to remove any existing flooring. If there is anything already laid over the concrete, you should remove it before you can start installing hardwood flooring. That might mean pulling up a carpet or possibly removing paint from the concrete. You will also need to remove baseboards and anything else that could prevent you from installing your flooring evenly. Baseboards can often be reused if you remove them carefully. A professional installer will do this without causing damage.
Choose the Best Material
It’s essential to choose the best option from the available types of floors for your hardwood installation on a concrete slab. Solid hardwood floors are suitable for installing both at ground level and above ground level, assuming the concrete is dry and that the right subfloor and vapor retarders are used. However, below ground-level spaces can have problems with moisture. For these spaces, it can be better to use engineered wood floors instead. Choosing the right material for your wood floors is an essential first step. They can be installed more successfully if you’re smart about it from the start, so work with your contractor to make the right choice.
Protect the Flooring
It’s important to be ready before installing hardwood floors over a concrete slab. If the building is new, all of the outside windows and doors need to be in place so that they can be closed off from the outdoor elements. Everything needs to be dry, including concrete, masonry, and sheetrock, and the area should be well-ventilated if it is warm outside. During the winter, the property should be heated to make sure that it’s not too cold and to prevent problems with both moisture and contraction. The heating should be maintained at healthy levels for several days before the flooring is brought in. You can work with your contractor to ensure the concrete slab is ready for installation.
The concrete slab needs to be dry before any flooring can be installed. The slab can be tested to check the moisture levels and determine whether there is too much moisture to install the subfloor. Too much humidity is most likely to be a problem for a newly installed slab, but it could also be an issue for existing slabs too. A new slab needs to be allowed to dry, whether naturally or with assistance from heat and ventilation. New slabs usually need at least two months to dry before they are suitable for hardwood installations. You will need a professional service to test for dryness.
Prepare the Slab
The concrete slab needs to be in the right condition before installing flooring. It should be clean and flat, with a trowel finish and no sign of any stains, grease or dust. If there are any high or low spots, they can be ground away to prepare the surface and make sure that everything is level.
Use a Vapor Retarder
To help control moisture levels, a vapor retarder should be installed. This prevents moisture from the slab from getting to the floor. An example of a vapor retarder that might be used is asphalt felt with asphalt mastic or polyethylene sheeting. The NWFA Guidelines say that a vapor retarder over concrete needs to be “impermeable,” meaning a Class I membrane according to building codes.
Install a Subfloor Solution
A subfloor is necessary to install before the flooring can be put into place. Two possibilities for subfloors are plywood-on-slab and sleeper. When installing plank flooring, it will need one of these options, as well as extra plywood. The subfloor provides a base for the flooring to sit on and helps to control moisture. When using sleepers, an asphalt primer should be used underneath them, and a vapor retarder should lie on top. The National Wood Flooring Association says that subfloor wood structural panels should be plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) with a bond classification of Exposure 1 or Exterior.
There are three main ways to install a subfloor, including to the NWFA. These include glue-down, floating, and nail-down. Solid and engineered flooring needs to be at least ¾” thick to be directly installed onto sleepers.
Before installing hardwood floors on a concrete slab, the flooring should be acclimated to the installation site. This helps to ensure that the moisture difference between the flooring and the subfloor material isn’t too high. The moisture level should be measured using a moisture meter, which will give you an accurate figure for how much moisture is in your materials. A professional floor installer will have one. The flooring should be removed from its boxes so that it can acclimatize.
Layout The Flooring
Once everything has been prepared, the flooring can be installed. Professional flooring installers will make sure to take all the necessary steps to prepare everything before finally installing the flooring itself.
Get Professional Help
If you have decided that you want to install hardwood floors on a slab, you can benefit from getting professional help. Professional installers know just what to do, and they have all of the correct equipment and materials necessary to install your floor. With a professional floor installation service, you won’t have to worry about making any mistakes. Get expert help and support, instead of trying to do something that you’re not very confident about.
Get in touch with Floors By the Shore if you are looking for help with flooring installation. We can ensure a quality job for your floors in New Jersey.
First published on: Apr 10, 2019
Updated on: Apr 14, 2022