Underlayments, Adhesive, Finishes
For a good-looking, long-lasting
floor, start by choosing the right product for your situation. Some wood
flooring is not suitable for installation on or below grade.
Depending on the flooring and where you're installing it, you might need a
plywood underlayment, a vapor barrier, or a plastic-foam underlayment. If
you're fastening the flooring to the subfloor, you'll need adhesive—except
for self-stick parquet tiles.
For unfinished flooring, you'll need a finish as soon as the floor is laid.
For prefinished boards, you'll need one when the existing finish wears off.
Sometimes you can lay new wood flooring over an existing
subfloor. An extra layer of plywood underlayment adds strength and provides
a smooth surface. Smoothness is especially important under parquet. For
this, 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch underlayment-rated plywood will do fine.
To lay strip or plank flooring parallel to the joists, you need an
extra-strong subfloor—a minimum of 11/8 inches is recommended. Adding a
layer of 5/8-inch plywood over an existing subfloor does the trick.
WHAT ELSE GOES UNDERNEATH?
What goes underneath depends on the kind of flooring and where you're
(plastic) vapor barriers are used over concrete subfloors to keep
moisture from creeping into the wood. They're not a solution to a
moisture problem, just insurance in normal situations. In some areas,
vapor barriers are also advised over wood subfloors. Ask your dealer.
plastic-foam underlayment acts as a cushion and a sound deadener under
floating floors. The material is laid loose on the subfloor or existing
DEALING WITH DAMP CONCRETE
It's easy to get the right adhesive for the flooring you're
installing— just read the label. It'll tell you:
* What type of flooring it holds down (strip or parquet)
* What wood species it's good for
* How many square feet the can covers
* What size notched trowel to buy
* What product to use to clean up
Pay attention to the adhesive's "open time, " which is also marked on the
label. This is the length of time the adhesive is workable before it dries.
Only apply as much adhesive as you can cover with flooring before it dries.
If it dries before you've set your flooring, scrape it off and apply new.
Surface finishes stay on top of the floor, forming a durable,
moisture-resistant surface that's fine for use in kitchens and other
potentially wet areas. They shouldn't be waxed. Some applications are
considered difficult to use and should be left to the pros. (See the chart
Penetrating sealers, on the other hand, soak into the wood and
harden, sealing it against dirt and some stains. They're available combined
with a stain for added color. A wax finish applied on top adds abrasion
resistance and a soft shine. Don't use sealers and wax where they might get
If you find dried adhesive
smears on the flooring surface after you've finished your installation,
don't panic. They'll clean up easily with a citrus-based cleaner. Just
use a clean rag and follow the product directions on the container.