So we wanted to install a hardwood floor…
Hardwood floors are beautiful. They look great. They are super durable, add value to your home, and are super fun to slide across in your socks! This post is 1 of 3 for diy-ing our hardwood floors. Check out the other steps too!
When we moved into our house there was laminate flooring, engineered hardwood, and carpet all in the same area within view of each other. They were different enough colors that they didn’t really go together and the carpet was getting disgusting. With two resident dogs and a foster dog we needed something durable that still looked great.
This was our first major project after painting when we moved into our house. It was so exciting but super nerve racking. If we screw this up it’s going to waste a ton of wood and money. The butterflies and the inconvenience were soooo worth it though. These hardwood floors changed the whole look of our house. The results are real and they are spectacular!
After you decide that you want to install a hardwood floor (take a big deep breath) the next step is to choose a hardwood type and species. Classic wood, engineered, local or exotic wood, floating or nailed/stapled. There are a lot of things to consider.
Cost for materials (+ labor if you don’t want to install it yourself)
Species (Maple, Birch, Oak, Bamboo, Teak, Ash, something more exotic)
Design/Style (Plank size, knots, variation in wood cut or color)
Type (Engineered or traditional)
Sealant applied after install or prefinished
Install Type (Clicked together or Stapled/Nailed)
All of these things will influence the floor that you choose. One of the major design and style inspirations that influenced us was our love for things local and Scandinavian. Living in MN with its strong Nordic culture we wanted to put a floor that was bright and light colored that would bring those characteristics into the house. During long Midwest winters it is nice to have a lot of reflective surfaces that bring as much light into the house as possible. The previous floors were dark and they made the house feel dark. We considered maple, ash, and birch. The birch was the most blonde option with not too many warm red/pink tones to the wood. When I found out that the wood was from Wisconsin that pretty much sealed the deal. Anytime I can bring a piece of my home state into my new state I can’t say no!
Along with the light color, the way that the hardwood floors interlocked together was important. Because traditional hardwood floors are cut from solid wood, the edges are straight. That means that the hardwood fits tight together and provides a smooth level finish. As Architects we are very particular about details like this. Most prefinished or engineered hardwood has a slight beveled edge because of the way it is manufactured. For us, this made choosing a traditional hardwood floor the right choice. There is no right or wrong choice.
We purchased our hardwood from Pete’s Hardwood Floors in St. Paul. Their customer service was great and they took the time to teach us about the floor and how to use all of the installation equipment. They were our Yoda for sure. “ Teach you how to install floors we will.” I am now passing on this sweet sweet knowledge to all of you! It is so nice to have a resource. I would suggest that you find your own local store that you can use for questions along the way.
Besides the look, budget is also a big concern. This was the first big project for us in the house and we knew it wouldn’t be the last. We choose a #2 common birch because it was an affordable way to get the look we wanted but not break the bank. The grade of wood shows you how many knots are in the wood and how consistent the color and grain will be. The lower the number the more consistent the wood will be. As you can see in the pictures ours has some variation in grain, color, and has a few small knots.
A traditional hardwood floor needs to be stapled or nailed to the subfloor. That’s Part 2! If you are installing it on a plywood subfloor like us, that works great! If you live in a warm weather state that doesn’t have basements, nailing/stapling into a concrete slab is not feasible. Look for a floating floor that clicks together instead. We also chose a Low VOC (volatile organic compound) sealer. That allowed us to install and seal the floors in the winter. More on that in Part 3.
Choosing a hardwood is the first step towards a beautiful floor. For us it was #2 Common Wisconsin Birch in a 2 ¼” plank with a low VOC sealer. I am so proud of how this floor turned out! We get so many compliments on the floor and I am so happy that we diy’d it.