Introduction

laying engineered wood floors tout »
Jeff Hosking, a flooring consultant for This Old House, first began laying floors 35 years ago. Back then, 90 percent of his work was installing solid-wood strips with nails. But now, half of the flooring he installs is engineered—made of thin sheets of wood glued together like plywood.

Solid wood is classic and can last a century, but engineered flooring offers a quicker, easier way to get a new floor, and it comes with a durable factory-applied finish.

Because it's laminated, it's more stable than solid wood, so you can put it over concrete or radiant floors, and not worry about warping. And Hosking says the finishes are far more durable than anything he can apply on-site.

Top-of-the-line engineered strips range from about $8 to $12 per square foot. That's higher than solid-wood planks, but homeowners can offset the expense by tackling the installation themselves.

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    Tools List

    • straightedge guide
      Straightedge
    • hand saw
      Handsaw
      for trimming door casing
    • pneumatic brad nailer
      Pneumatic brad nailer
      for fastening the first courses of flooring
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
      for cutting flooring strips to length(alternative: backsaw with a miter box
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw
      for trimming pieaces to fit around vents and other obstacles (alternative: coping saw)
    • pneumatic staple gun
      Pnuematic staple gun
      for securing flooring to subfloor (alternative: hammer stapler)
    • notched trowel
      Notched trowel
      for spreading adhesive for glue-down installations
    • plaster trowel
      Plaster trowel
      for spreading filler to level subfloor
    • combination square
      Combination square
    • utility knife
      Utility knife
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • pull bar
      Pull bar
    • tapping block
      Plastic tapping block
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • tacker hammer
      Hammer tacker
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • drill
      Drill
    • air compressor
      Air compresor

    Shopping List

    1. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORS

    2. MASKING TAPE

    for holding together glued-down boards until the adhesive sets



    3. PATCHING COMPOUND

    used to fill low spots in subfloor



    4. 15-POUND BUILDER'S FELT

    for use as an underlayment



    5. RING-SHANK NAILS OR PHILLIPS-HEAD SCREWS

    for securing subfloor, if necessary