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Hardwood Flooring


My wife has decided that she would rather have hardwood flooring instead of lamminate flooring. Normally I would the utter the simple phrase, "Yes dear." and get the hardwood flooring and be done with it.

However, our home is built on slab, not crawl space. I'm thinking that it would probably be of very little use to try to nail a hardwood floor to concrete.

I was thinking of putting a moisture barrier down, then build a furring strip frame, followed by
4' X 8' 3/8" plywood panels for a subfloor and finish off with the hardwood flooring.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan or should I bite the bullet and try to tell my lady the technical reasons why hardwood floors do not belong over a concrete slab?


A. Spruce
Re: Hardwood Flooring

I've seen slabs covered with 3/4 plywood, then solid hardwood installed. The problem with this is that it creates clearance issues with doors, cabinets, and other things. When I put hardwood into my house on slab I used a floating floor system and it worked beautifully. A floating floor is not attached to the substrate, it merely "floats" on top. Each piece is glued to its neighbor, making the floor one entire sheet that isn't going to move when it's done.

Now, the hard part, choosing the flooring. IMHO, man-made laminates such as Pergo are complete and utter garbage! There is no real wood in them and these floors cannot be refinished.

Next on the ladder would be a wood laminate, where at least the top layer is wood and the core is HDF. This type of floor cannot be refinished.

And finally, the best is a solid wood laminate, where every layer in the laminate is wood. The brand that I used was Kahr's, which has the thickest surface layer which will allow for a more durable floor and the ability to refinish several times before replacement is required.

The flooring I purchased was prefinished. It worked out very well, however if I were to do it again I would finish it in place so that any irregularities could be sanded out for a perfectly smooth floor. Kahr's is a good brand, wears well, installs easily, and looks great. The installation process was to lay a 6mil plastic vapor barrier, 1/8" foam sheets (think packing foam ) which cushions the floor and helps take up irregularities in the slab, then the hardwood is laid.

A. Spruce
Re: Hardwood Flooring

I forgot to mention that if you will be going over areas covered with vinyl to areas with no vinyl that there will be a noticeable slope transition in the hardwood. I'd recommend removing the existing vinyl so that you're laying directly on the slab to alleviate any noticeable transitions in your finished floor.

Also, where carpet meets the hardwood you can either buy a molding transition OR you can have the carpet tucked at the edge of the wood for a seamless transition, which is what I did and feel it provides a nicer transition than a molding.

Gray Watson
Re: Hardwood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring. These are basically multi-layer plywood with a finished side of the desired veneer layer. Avoid those with a manufactured core layer.

You can moisture test your slab. If it passes you glue down a membrane system, then trowel down an adhesive on top of that to glue down the engineered planks or strips.

The glue-down method is usually best for engineered hardwood flooring on slab.

Floating doesn't usually work long-term especially in non-arid climates you end up with a condensation issue between the flooring and the vapor barrier that grows mold and rot.

Don't forget to acclimate the flooring (longer the better) before installing.

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