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Preparing a Subfloor for Hardwood Floor Installation

Every long-lasting, durable hardwood floor started with a properly prepared subfloor. In general, there are three types of subfloors:

Concrete Subfloor

Before a hardwood floor can be installed over concrete or screed (a thin layer of concrete), it must be properly dried out to 75% humidity, which usually takes a minimum of four weeks. A simple surface test will not suffice because it won't accurately assess the moisture level deep inside the concrete. For best results, a probe test should be conducted by drilling into the concrete. If you cannot wait the required time to dry the concrete, there are underlayment materials made of damp-proof membranes (DMP) that will protect your hardwood flooring from moisture to help prevent future failure.

Plywood or Chipboard Subfloor

Before installing a hardwood floor, the plywood or chipboard subfloor needs to have its moisture content tested with a hygrometer. Moisture levels must be within 2% of the hardwood floor's moisture level to avoid excessive expansion and contraction after installation. Additionally, any loose subflooring will need to be securely fixed, and any rotted panels need to be replaced prior to installation.

Sleepers, Floorboards, or Floor Joists

When it comes to subflooring with floor joists, special attention needs to be paid to the distance between floor joists and sleepers as this will determine where wood flooring can be nailed down. Solid wood flooring will need to be fastened every 10 inches. If there is concrete underneath the floor joists or sleepers, the concrete subfloor will need to meet the same requirements as stated above.

No matter which subfloor type your home has, it must measure level within ⅛" across a 6-foot span to get the best surface possible for laying down hardwood flooring. At Gäte Hardwood Floors, we have perfected our process of leveling substrates for wood floor installation. While this step may appear excessive, it is essential to delivering a quality wood floor, since your floor can only be as flat as the substrate beneath it.

Call Gäte Hardwood Floors today. We offer free consultations for new hardwood floor installations throughout Boise, Sun Valley, Ketchum, Coeur d'Alene, McCall, Moscow, Sun Valley, Nampa, and surrounding communities. With our 30 years of experience, you can be confident that our detail-oriented craftsmen will follow the industry's leading practices for hardwood flooring installation.

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