Before installing any wood floor you must first make sure the sub-floor is free of loose materials, oil, grease etc and is also clean and dry. Before starting, lay out strips to determine the direction you would prefer to lay the wood, a good idea is to lay them parallel to the longest wall of the room or in the opposite direction to any joists. When the strips are placed down it is possible to arrange the patterns and shades into preferred positions.
The installation method used primarily with natural wood flooring is the nail down method although other methods such as, staple down, glue down and free-float can be used. The installation method used depends on the type of sub-floor you currently have. If for example you have a plywood sub-floor, any of the above methods can be used. For a concrete sub-floor the nail and staple down methods are not an option unless a plywood sub-floor is added above the slab and attached with concrete fasteners.
When installing solid wood with nails, a gap of at least half an inch should be left between the edge of the flooring and the starting wall, this allows room for expansion. The first row of wood should be nailed down with screw shank flooring nails (finishing nails). By drilling starting holes in the wood it is easier to insert the nails and avoid damaging the wood. A hardwood nailer can be used to nail down those strips not closest to the walls.
Gluing directly to concrete floor without a protective moisture barrier is not advised as wood will absorb any moisture present. Glue-down wood floors are installed similar to the way you would lay a flooring tile, with trowel-spread mastic. The adhesive can be applied wet to the substrate and then immediately placed onto a wet adhesive or the adhesive can be left to turn tacky. It is very important that contact is made between the flooring and sub-floor. It must be remembered that adhesive does not prevent moisture-related damage to wood.
The free-float method is very stable method, which has proved to be very popular over the last couple of years. Instead of installing each plank separately, the boards are glued together, not down therefore “floating” over the permanent flooring. This is suitable for any flooring and is the preferred method to use over under-floor heating. As the floor expands and contracts, gaps are not left between individual units. Elastilon is a perfect accessory for creating floating floors. The wood flooring is stuck onto the underlay but not the sub-floor.
Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and should not be installed below ground level or directly over a concrete slab without a moisture barrier. Before laying a wood floor it is vital to ensure that the entire concrete floor is flat.