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Essential Prep Work Before Installing New Hardwood Floors

March 05, 2024 5 min read

Prep work needed before installing floors

Essential Prep Work Before Installing New Hardwood Floors

Installing new hardwood floors is an exciting home improvement project that can enhance the beauty and value of your space. However, proper preparation is key to ensuring a successful and long-lasting installation. From assessing the sub floor to acclimating the wood, there are several essential steps to take before laying down your new flooring. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore helpful prep work you can do to ensure a smooth and successful hardwood floor installation.

1. Assess the Subfloor

Before installing new hardwood floors, it's crucial to assess the condition of the sub floor. Ensure that the subfloor is clean, level, dry, and structurally sound. Remove any existing flooring materials, such as carpet, tile, or laminate, and inspect the subfloor for any signs of damage or unevenness. Address any issues with the sub floor before proceeding with the installation to prevent problems down the line.

2. Measure and Plan

Accurate measurements and careful planning are essential for a successful hardwood floor installation. Measure the dimensions of the room(s) where you plan to install the flooring, taking into account any alcoves, closets, or irregularities in the layout. Use these measurements to determine the quantity of hardwood flooring and additional materials, such as underlayment and transition strips, needed for the project. Create a layout plan to optimize the placement of the hardwood planks and minimize waste.

3. Choose the Right Hardwood Flooring

Selecting the right hardwood flooring is a critical decision that can impact the overall look and performance of your space. Consider factors such as wood species, plank width, surface finish, and color to find the perfect flooring option for your home. Choose a hardwood species and finish that complements your existing decor and suits your lifestyle and maintenance preferences. Take advantage of samples and swatches to visualize how different flooring options will look in your space before making a final decision.

4. Acclimate the Wood

Proper acclimation of the hardwood flooring is essential to prevent issues such as expansion, contraction, and warping after installation. Allow the hardwood planks to acclimate to the ambient temperature and humidity conditions of the installation site for at least 48 to 72 hours before laying them down. Store the flooring materials in the room(s) where they will be installed, stacking them off the ground and away from exterior walls to ensure uniform acclimation.

5. Prepare the Room

Prepare the room(s) for hardwood floor installation by removing all furniture, appliances, and fixtures from the space. Clear the area of any obstacles or debris that could impede the installation process. If necessary, remove baseboards, trim, and molding along the perimeter of the room to allow for a seamless installation. Take care to protect any remaining surfaces, such as walls and countertops, from dust, debris, and potential damage during the installation process.

6. Address Moisture Issues

Moisture can wreak havoc on hardwood floors, causing warping, cupping, and other damage over time. Take steps to address moisture issues in the installation area before laying down the new flooring. Use a moisture meter to assess the moisture levels of the subfloor and surrounding environment. Ensure that the moisture content of the subfloor is within the acceptable range specified by the flooring manufacturer. Install a vapor barrier or moisture barrier, if necessary, to protect the hardwood flooring from moisture-related problems.

7. Level the Sub floor

A level sub floor is essential for a smooth and stable hardwood floor installation. Use a straightedge or level to check for any unevenness or dips in the sub floor. Fill in low spots and level out high spots using a self-leveling compound or floor patching compound. Allow the compound to dry completely before proceeding with the installation. Taking the time to properly level the subfloor will help ensure a professional-looking finished result and minimize the risk of issues such as squeaks and gaps.

8. Consider Underlayment

Underlayment can provide additional support, insulation, and sound absorption for hardwood floors. Consider installing an underlayment material, such as felt or foam, between the subfloor and the hardwood flooring to improve comfort and performance. Choose an underlayment that is compatible with your flooring type and installation method, and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for installation.

9. Gather the Right Tools and Supplies

Before starting the hardwood floor installation, gather all the necessary tools and supplies to ensure a smooth and efficient process. Essential tools for hardwood floor installation may include a power saw or miter saw, a pneumatic flooring naileror stapler, a hammer, nails or staples, a tape measure, a chalk line, a utility knife, and safety gear such as goggles and knee pads. Additionally, stock up on installation supplies such as flooring adhesive, wood glue, spacers, and transition strips.

10. Plan for Waste Management

Hardwood floor installation can generate a significant amount of waste, including sawdust, scrap wood, and packaging materials. Plan ahead for waste management by setting up a designated area for disposal and recycling. Use dust containment measures such as plastic sheeting or dust barriers to minimize mess and contain sawdust during the installation process. Dispose of waste materials responsibly and in accordance with local regulations.

11. Protect the Installation Area

Before laying down your new hardwood floors, it's important to protect the installation area from potential damage. Consider using temporary floor protection products, such as heavy-duty cardboard or adhesive-backed floor protection film, to shield the sub floor and surrounding surfaces from scratches, spills, and other hazards during the installation process. Additionally, cover any nearby furniture, fixtures, and appliances with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to prevent damage and make cleanup easier.

12. Consider Adhesive Leather Floor Pads

For added floor protection and style, consider using adhesive leather floor pads on the bottom of your wooden chairs and furniture legs. These pads are designed to adhere securely to chair legs, providing a cushioned barrier between the furniture and the hardwood floors. Adhesive leather floor pads not only prevent scratches and scuffs but also add a touch of sophistication to your chairs and protect your investment in both your furniture and your floors.


Proper preparation is essential for a successful and long-lasting hardwood floor installation. By taking the time to assess the sub floor, measure and plan carefully, choose the right flooring, acclimate the wood, prepare the room, address moisture issues, level the sub floor, consider underlayment, gather the right tools and supplies, and plan for waste management, you can ensure a smooth and efficient installation process. Investing time and effort in prep work will pay off in the form of beautiful, durable, and functional hardwood floors that enhance the beauty and value of your home for years to come.