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How To

Discover our step-by-step guide on how to installed engineered wooden floors

Written by: Will Stories

Published on: June 14, 2023

How to Install Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood floors offer a range of installation options. The majority feature a tongue and groove installation method. However, newer products can also come with a click system. The technique for installation will vary between floors.

A diagram of installing engineered wood flooring

To help, we have provided a comprehensive engineered wood installation guide below. This includes flooring tips, advice and methods you can use.

1. What Tools Will You Need?

You are going to need the following tools and equipment:

  • Tape measure
  • Handsaw or electric saw
  • Spacers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Adhesive spreader (optional)

You’re going to need the tape measure to accurately measure the floor. A saw will also be required to cut the planks to size when needed. You can either use a handsaw for individual planks, or an electric saw to cut down multiple planks.

Spacers will help you to leave an appropriate expansion gap around the room. A pencil and ruler will help you to sketch the right measurements. You’re also going to need a good quality underlay. All engineered wood floors should be installed with underlay in place. Finally, a rubber mallet can help you to gently but firmly, tap the boards into place.

You may also need adhesive and nails depending upon the method.

2. Measure The Room

Before you get started, you’re going to need to know how much flooring you need. To do this, it is important to measure the room.

You can then choose the best wood plank dimensions to fit your chosen space.

If the room is a perfect rectangle or square shape, multiply the width of the room by its length. For example, a room which measures 5m x 2m would equal 10 square metres of flooring.

If the room has recesses, you’re going to need to measure the individual areas. Mark down the measurements. Split it into small rectangular sections to work out how much flooring you will need. Remember to account for 5% to 10% of waste when working out how much you will need.

3. Acclimatise Your Engineered Wood Planks

With wooden flooring, it is important to acclimatise the floor prior to installation. It will need to be placed, unboxed, in the same room you’ll be installing it in. We recommend acclimatising it for 5-7 days. This allows the wood to adjust to room temperature.

Acclimatising the floor ensures it does not move or warp during installation. This is important for both the aesthetics and to ensure it doesn’t become damaged.

The acclimatisation method differs for underfloor heating. We recommend laying each box on the floor, rather than on top of one another. Then, turn the heating on at a low temperature. Increase it by around 2 Degrees every couple of days. This will slowly get the wood used to the underfloor heating system.

4. Prepare the Subfloor

Proper subfloor preparation is crucial for a successful installation of engineered wood flooring. Preparing the subfloor ensures a level, stable, and moisture-free surface, which is essential for the longevity and performance of your flooring. In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of preparing a subfloor for engineered wood flooring installation.

Screeding a subfloor to lay engineered wood flooring over

Step 1) Evaluate the Subfloor: Before you begin, assess the condition of your subfloor. Check for any signs of damage, such as cracks, loose boards, or moisture issues. Ensure that the subfloor is structurally sound and free from any obstructions or protrusions.

Step 2) Remove Existing Flooring: If there is existing flooring, remove it carefully. This includes carpet, vinyl, laminate, or any other material covering the subfloor. Use appropriate tools like a pry bar, scraper, or floor stripper to remove the flooring. Take care not to damage the subfloor during this process.

Step 3) Clean the Subfloor: Thoroughly clean the subfloor to remove any debris, dust, or adhesive residues. Sweep or vacuum the area to ensure a clean surface. If there are stubborn residues, you may need to use a suitable adhesive remover or solvent according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4) Level the Subfloor: Check the subfloor for any unevenness or low spots. Use a straightedge or level to identify any high or low areas. If there are minor irregularities, you can often correct them by applying a self-leveling compound. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to mix and apply the compound, ensuring a smooth and level surface.

Step 5) Address Moisture Concerns: Moisture can be a significant issue for engineered wood flooring. Test the subfloor for moisture content using an appropriate moisture meter. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines to determine acceptable moisture levels. If the subfloor exceeds the recommended moisture levels, you may need to address the issue by installing a moisture barrier, improving ventilation, or addressing any water leakage problems.

Step 6) Install a Vapor Barrier: Even if moisture levels are within the acceptable range, it's often recommended to install a vapor barrier to further protect the engineered wood flooring. A vapor barrier helps prevent moisture from reaching the flooring, reducing the risk of warping or damage. Use a suitable underlayment or moisture barrier material, following the manufacturer's instructions for installation.

Step 7) Check for Squeaks and Loose Boards: Walk across the subfloor and listen for squeaks or creaking sounds. If you notice any, secure loose boards or subfloor panels by adding screws or nails to eliminate the noise and ensure a stable surface. Take care not to overdrive the fasteners, as it can damage the subfloor.

Step 8) Allow for Expansion Gaps: Engineered wood flooring requires expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room to accommodate for natural expansion and contraction. Use spacers or suitable-sized objects to create consistent gaps between the flooring and walls. Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations for the recommended gap size.

By following these steps to evaluate, clean, level, address moisture concerns, install a vapor barrier, secure loose boards, and allow for expansion gaps, you can create an ideal subfloor surface for your engineered wood flooring. Remember to consult the manufacturer's guidelines and seek professional assistance if needed. With a well-prepared subfloor, you'll be ready to enjoy the beauty and durability of your new engineered wood flooring for years to come.

5. Is Underlay Required?

Although not all types of engineered wood flooring require an underlay to be installed, it is recommended you use one. This will help to boost the stability of the floor, while also protecting the floor against moisture underneath.

How to install engineered wood flooring on underlay

If the subfloor does contain moderate levels of moisture, it’s worth investing in an underlay with a damp-proof membrane built in.

6. Choose Your Installation Method

Engineered wood flooring offers versatility and aesthetic appeal, and two popular installation methods for this type of flooring are Click installation floated on underlay and Tongue and Groove installation floated or glued straight down to the subfloor. In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process for both methods, providing you with the necessary information to choose the most suitable installation technique for your engineered wood flooring project.

6a. Click Installation Floated on Underlay

Step 1) Gather the Materials and Tools: Collect the necessary materials, including engineered wood flooring planks with a click-lock system, underlayment suitable for floating installations, moisture barrier if required, and the appropriate tools such as a tape measure, utility knife, tapping block, and a rubber mallet.

Step 2) Prepare the Subfloor: Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and free from any debris or imperfections. Address any necessary subfloor preparations, such as leveling or moisture mitigation, as per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Step 3) Install the Moisture Barrier (if necessary): If your subfloor requires a moisture barrier, lay it down according to the manufacturer's instructions. Overlap the seams and secure them with tape.

Step 4) Lay the Underlayment: Roll out the underlayment across the entire floor area, ensuring it fits snugly against the walls. Trim any excess underlayment using a utility knife.

Step 5) Begin Click Installation: Start in a corner of the room. Place the first plank with the click-lock system facing the wall, allowing for an expansion gap. Connect the next plank at an angle, inserting the tongue into the groove of the previous plank. Use a tapping block and rubber mallet to gently tap the planks together until they are fully engaged.

Step 6) Continue Installation: Continue installing the planks row by row, connecting each plank by angling and snapping them together. Stagger the joints between rows for a visually appealing and stable installation. Trim the last row of planks as needed to fit the space using a saw.

Step 7) Complete the Installation: Once all the planks are installed, remove any spacers used to create expansion gaps. Install baseboards or molding to cover the expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room, allowing the floor to expand and contract naturally.

6b. Tongue & Groove Installation Floated or Glued Straight Down

Step 1) Gather the Materials and Tools: Collect the necessary materials, including engineered wood flooring with tongue and groove edges, underlayment (optional for floating installation), adhesive (if gluing down), moisture barrier if required, and the appropriate tools such as a tape measure, utility knife, trowel, and a rubber mallet.

Step 2) Prepare the Subfloor: Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and free from any debris or imperfections. Address any necessary subfloor preparations, such as leveling or moisture mitigation, as per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Step 3) Install the Moisture Barrier (if necessary): If a moisture barrier is required, follow the manufacturer's instructions to install it over the subfloor.

Step 4) Lay the Underlayment (for floating installation): If you opt for a floating installation, lay the underlayment across the entire floor area, fitting it tightly against the walls. Trim any excess underlayment using a utility knife.

Underlay for laying engineered wood flooring over

Step 5) Begin Tongue and Groove Installation: Start in a corner of the room. Place the first plank with the groove facing the wall, leaving an expansion gap. Insert the tongue of the next plank into the groove of the first plank at an angle. Use a rubber mallet and tapping block to gently tap the planks together until they are fully engaged.

Step 6) Continue Installation: Continue installing the planks row by row, connecting each plank by angling and fitting the tongue into the groove of the previous plank. Stagger the joints between rows for stability and an appealing visual layout. Trim the last row of planks as needed to fit the space using a saw.

Step 7) Glue-Down Installation (optional): If you choose to glue the planks down, apply adhesive according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use a trowel to spread the adhesive evenly on the subfloor before installing the tongue and groove planks. Wipe off any excess adhesive that seeps through the joints.

A photo showing how to glue down engineered flooring

Step 8) Complete the Installation: Remove any spacers used for expansion gaps. Install baseboards or molding to cover the expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room, allowing the floor to expand and contract naturally.

Both Click installation floated on underlay and Tongue and Groove installation floated or glued straight down offer reliable methods for installing engineered wood flooring. Consider factors such as subfloor type, personal preference, budget, and location to determine the most suitable installation method for your project. Follow the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide, adhering to manufacturer's guidelines, to ensure a successful and visually appealing installation of your engineered wood flooring.

Diagram of how to install engineered wooden flooring

If you run into any problems while installing your engineered wood floor, give our flooring experts a call. We will be happy to assist you with any issues you may be experiencing.

You can view our full range of engineered wood flooring here. If you want to learn more before you buy, check out our full guide explaining what engineered wood flooring is here.

About The Author

Will Stories

Will Woolley is head of technical SEO at storiesflooring.co.uk, a UK-based technical SEO specialist and winner of the 2022 Queens Award. Woolley works with and oversees a team of web developers, content creators and product administrators to drive online sales for Stories Flooring through all channels of online platforms.