How To: Install Engineered Hardwood Flooring on Concrete
There’s no better way to transform a cold, unwelcoming space than by installing cozy and warm hardwood flooring. To refresh a room with a concrete floor, we specifically recommend engineered hardwood flooring. This high-quality, high-performance flooring solution offers improved stability compared with standard solid wood flooring, making it a great choice for the basement and other spaces that commonly feature concrete floors or high humidity environments. Whether you’re installing the floors yourself or having a flooring professional handle the job for you, this step-by-step guide will give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the process.
Engineered hardwood can be installed on concrete using the glue-down installation method. We recommend using an acrylic or urethane wood adhesive, such as Bostik Pro-Cure or East Bay Clipper. Before installing any flooring you must follow the instructions set forth by the flooring manufacturer. These instructions are provided for every product featured on Twenty & Oak. Hardwood installation and use of adhesives can be particularly challenging. We recommend using a professional flooring retailer to take care of the installation for you.
Most manufacturers do recommend a similar process with small variations here and there. Generally, they all adhere to the National Wood Flooring Association guidelines and the process looks something like this:
1. Test the Humidity of the Concrete
Engineered hardwood is tolerant of some humidity, but not waterproof, so it’s not a good option for particularly damp environments. To ensure that the adhesive will work properly and that there isn’t too much moisture vapor emission, your installer will need to test the moisture level of the concrete. Remember, concrete is permeable, so ground moisture can seep towards the flooring and cause serious problems down the road if it’s too wet. Only install floors over concrete showing a humidity reading consistent with the instructions on the adhesive of choice. Your installer may recommend using a moisture mitigation system to prepare the slab for flooring.
2. Prepare the Floor and Let Planks Acclimate
Next, your installer will need to prep materials. The concrete slab should be prepped for installation by making any leveling adjustments and giving it a thorough sweep and mop, allowing it to completely dry overnight. At the same time, the engineered hardwood planks must be allowed to acclimate to the environment for two or three days. This will help the wood adjust to the environment where it will live permanently so it doesn’t expand or shrink after installation, which could cause complex and costly issues.
3. Spread the Adhesive with a Notched Trowel
Using a notched trowel, the installer will spread the adhesive in an even layer over a small portion of the floor, starting on a long wall. Work must be done fast enough to lay the flooring planks without allowing the section of glue to dry (it helps to make note of the adhesive’s drying time and to plan sections accordingly). The planks will be prepared by applying wood glue to both the tongue and groove side of each plank.
4. Laying Down the Flooring Planks
Next, the engineered hardwood planks will be laid down into the adhesive, locking them together using the prepared tongue and groove joints. Pieces should fit together perfectly with no gaps, bumps or raised areas from one section to another. Adhesive will be quickly applied and planks laid until the floor is covered. Pressure will be applied, moving across each plank to ensure that the glue is properly adhering to the concrete.
5. Apply Pressure to the Flooring
For proper adhesion, most manufacturers recommend going over the floor with a 100-pound roller shortly after installation to ensure that the adhesive properly transfers from the plank to the concrete floor.
6. Wait and Finish (If Needed)
Before any next steps, the floor should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours and no one should walk on it for two days. Twenty and Oak offers prefinished engineered hardwood, so there is no need for the messy staining and finishing process.
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Check with the Manufacturer or Consult an Expert
This is a very general, at-a-glance guide to installing hardwood over concrete, and it’s by no means meant to serve as an in-depth, step-by-step or definitive guide. To ensure that the floor is installed floor properly, make sure to always consult the manufacturer or a flooring professional before beginning. Remember that no one knows more about flooring than professional installers, so don’t be afraid to rely on local pros if you’re not sure about something!
As long as it is done right, and according to manufacturer's instructions, you can count on stunning new floors in any environment, even a dingy and cold basement!
Twenty & Oak Experts
Twenty & Oak Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast.