8 Expert Flooring Tips From Amy Matthews

Sweat Equity host Amy Matthews shows you how to choose the right flooring for your needs, install it like a pro and protect it for a long-lasting investment.

Lay Your Floors for Strength

For aesthetic reasons, many people choose to install their floorboards lengthwise across the room. But when you're deciding which way to lay your floor, be sure to run it perpendicular to your joist. This will make your floor as strong as possible and will prevent warping or separating in those pieces in the long run.

Start With a Level Surface

Before installing any type of wood flooring, it's important to make sure your subfloor is level. If there are voids underneath the floorboards, the floor will squeak. This floor was leveled with sand and topped with a rubber underlayment made from recycled materials.

Lay a Subfloor If Needed

If you plan to glue down your floor, the only preparation needed is to level the floor. But if you want to nail down your floor, you need to lay a subfloor. Be sure the total thickness of the flooring plus the plywood is enough to receive the nails.

Consider Floating Floors

Floating floors are inexpensive and easy to install – no nails or glue needed. They're also a great option if your old flooring might have asbestos in it. The boards can be installed right on top of your old floors, saving you the cost of calling in the pros to remove the asbestos.

Stick to Your Adhesive's Directions

When gluing a wood floor, check the drying time for your particular brand of adhesive. Work in small sections so you don't spread more adhesive than you can cover before it dries.

Try Engineered Wood in Damp Areas

Ideal for basements and other areas where moisture might be an issue, engineered-wood flooring consists of a top layer of real wood attached to multiple, thin layers of plywood or fiberboard. Depending on the thickness of the veneer, engineered wood can be refinished once or twice.

Always Test Your Stain

When it comes to staining, wood is unpredictable. Before covering your entire floor, test the stain in an inconspicuous area or on a sample piece of wood to make sure you are satisfied with the color.

Protect Your Floors

When staining wood floors, keep in mind that the stain is not a protective finish — it only adds color or tone to the wood. Applying another layer of protective coating or polyurethane will protect your investment in the long run.

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