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Installing an Engineered Hardwood Floor
(Stapled-Down Wood Floor Installation)

Update: 4 years later (Aug. 2008) and my hardwood floor still looks terrific!

If you like hardwood floors with lots of character and subtle markings you should checkout Mannington's American Legacy Collection - Heritage Hickory Plank. Currently in 4 colorations this pre-finished, engineered hardwood floor will add warmth and charm to any room and make you the envy of all your neighbors.

I recently put this floor to the test by stapling down 1300 sq.ft. of Mannington's Heritage Hickory Plank, color Saffron (HH05SN1). This is a 5 inch wide, 1/2 inch thick, 5-ply engineered wood floor that we selected for its rich appearance and ability to be installed net to the walls (no gaps). The wood flooring was installed in a great room, dining room, kitchen and 3 bedrooms.

Mannington's American Legacy Collection has a special Teflon, UV-cured urethane factory finish that is extremely durable, scratch-resistant and easier to clean than most other wood finishes. The cross-ply, engineered construction means the planks will not shrink or grow with changes in humidity. This was another reason I chose an engineered wood floor so the planks would not gap during the dry winter months.

Engineered flooring is constructed in several thin layers of wood that are stacked on top of each other in opposite directions. This causes the layers to counteract each other's movements when humidity changes. This cross-ply construction method creates a floor product that is dimensionally stable and doesn't have the expansion/contraction issues that solid wood flooring has with changes in humidity.

Although I chose the staple down installation method, Mannington's American Legacy Collection can be glued, nailed, floated or stapled to approved subfloors. (This includes gluing to or floating over dry concrete slabs.) These floors are suitable for all grade levels and carry Mannington Wood's 25-year finish, Lifetime Structure, Lifetime Moisture and Pre-Installation warranties.

Staple-down Installation
Throughout the installation the planks remained very true to size and were very square. From wall to wall the flooring never ran off. All the flooring was installed over exterior-grade 5/8" plywood with black roofing felt and stapled down with a Spotnail staple gun (called the Floor Monster) and a 1-3/8" staple (ST4811PN). We used a DeWalt air compressor and set the regulator to 80 lbs to keep the staples flush with the surface of the plank's tongue. Staples were shot into the tongue about every 4 inches across the width of the planks.

To insert the planks into each other a Mannington tapping block was used (white-colored block see picture). This little tool does a great job of getting the planks to fit tightly together without damaging the tongues of the planks. (If you happen to damage the tongues you will have a terrible time trying to get the tongues and grooves to fit tightly together.)

Near the fireplace, kitchen counters and all walls bordering the wood flooring the staple gun could not be used so wood glue was applied to the tongue and grooves of those planks and PL-400 sub-floor glue was applied on top of the sub-floor where the planks would sit. Where ever PL-400 was going to be used the black roofing felt was removed before applying the glue.

Around the doorways and closets the trim had to be undercut to allow the planks to slide underneath. Laying a jamb saw on top of a scrap piece of the wood flooring makes this job pretty easy to do. This creates a really professional look to your wood flooring installation. Any planks that needed to be cut were cut with either a chop saw, a cordless circular saw or hand-held jig saw.

A small pry bar was used to carefully help pull planks together in tight spots along the walls. The walls were all wood so damaging drywall with a pry bar was not a concern.

Throughout the installation 3-5 cartons of planks were always spread around the work area. Continually pulling planks from different cartons gives a wood floor a more even and consistent overall color appearance. (Using only one carton at a time can give a floor a blotchy appearance). Any boards with long, dark mineral streaks or unusual looking knots were put to the side. I found most planks to be very acceptable, but some less visual-appealing planks were kept out to be used inside closets or the bad parts were cut off and good sections were used as starter planks in new rows. All planks were first dry-fitted in rows to be sure there were not any over-wood problems or damaged plank edges. A string was pulled tightly across the room every so often to be sure the flooring was still running true.

When it came time to move the refrigerator I used a 4 ft. by 4 ft. piece of 1/4" luaun that I picked up at the local lumberyard. I rented a dolly for a day to help move the refrigerator onto and off of the luaun. While sliding the refrigerator back into place a rubber-backed rug helped to maneuver the appliance without damaging the newly installed hardwood floor.

At doorways where the new wood flooring met carpet, vinyl or ceramic tile a square nose reducer was used to butt the wood floor up against the other flooring. A square nose reducer helps protect the raw edge of the wood plank and gives a nice finished look.

Where the wood flooring continued into a bedroom a wood spline was inserted into the groove of the plank installed at the room entrance. This allowed the flooring to be reversed so the plank tongues would be running in the right direction for stapling in the bedroom. (The other option would have been to use a T-molding in the doorway).

If you are in the market for a new hardwood floor and want a floor with lots of character I highly recommend looking at the handscraped hardwood floors. These floors cost a more than the average hardwood floor but have a stunning, rich look that will enhance the appearance of any interior setting. Handscraped hardwood floors are available in both solid and engineered constructions depending on the manufacturer. See the FloorFacts Hardwood Flooring Brand Comparison for manufacturers who offer handscraped hardwood floors.

A special thanks to Jeff Hosking of Hosking Hardwood Flooring for his expert advice and to Paul Clark from Mannington for his assistance.