Installing hardwood floors by myself from start to finish was a great project that I really enjoyed. I used much of the leftover tongue and groove teak hardwood flooring from upstairs to install hardwood floors in the gym/guest bedroom downstairs. First off, no professional hardwood floor installer will recommend installing floors at or below grade, especially in the tropics. The reason behind this is because the high moisture level may cause the floor boards to bow and buckle. I did everything within my power to stop the effect of this because installing hardwood floors below grade is exactly what I did. Here are the precautions I took;
- Sealer on the concrete floor
- Half inch wood subfloor
- Subfloor framing has holes drilled into it to let the moisture flow out and not puddle
- Glued and screwed 3/4 inch plywood and let settle for 6 months before installing tongue and groove
- Layered felt paper between plywood and the teak tongue and groove flooring
- Sacrificed a goat and a virgin during the full moon last night while crossing my fingers
One of the really cool things about this project was the fact that most of the supplies I used were leftover supplies from other projects, so it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to complete a Do It Yourself home project (it seems like everything costs at least $1,000). The only supplies I purchased for this project were the sheets of treated plywood. Everything else was here as a result of overestimating supplies for other home projects.Installing the floors took some forethought regarding how to lay them down. The rule of thumb is to criss-cross your materials; Subfloor framing side-to-side, plywood longways and then the flooring side-to-side again. You also have to measure out your room before you start laying the floors to make sure it is square. This room is about 3/4 of an inch off so I snapped a chalk line at my starting point that made up for that 3/4 an inche to ensure the tongue and groove floors didn’t start getting really crooked halfway through laying them down and then look horribly slanted by the time I made it to the entrance of the room.
Once the first line was snapped and I lined up the first row of boards, your path has been set and it’s time to choose the correct pieces of wood, bang the new row into the grooves of the already installed row, pop in some nails and move on to the next row. I used a 18 inch 2×10 piece of scrap wood to bang the boards into place and my trusty air compressor powered finishing nail gun to tack the boards down. The nails I used were 2 inches long and I nailed through the tongue of the board so the nails would be hidden once the next board was installed. The only two areas you can see nails are the starter boards and the end boards. Once I trim out the walls with runner boards I will putty the nail holes and it will all disappear.
I did the entire job by myself and it took me about 20 hours. It probably took me about 10 hours to frame out the subfloor, shim the uneven spots, cut, screw and glue the plywood and then another 10 hours to install the tongue and groove flooring. If you have experience and the right tools, I bet you could get this job done in half that amount of time.
Here are some of the pictures that I took while the project was under way. The subfloor photos are from 6 months ago and the finish work is from this week.