DIY Hardwood Installation Checklist for Beginners

         Get your DIY hardwood installation checklist right here. Everyone loves a beautiful hardwood floor covering. Even if you have vinyl or laminate that imitates the grain and color of actual hardwood, you are still trying to achieve that same majestic look that you get with richly stained and finished hardwood. There is just something about the naturalness of how wood floors catch the light that hits them and begin shining like a river under moonlight. It is the way that a wood floor when matched with the color scheme of a space, can turn a room into something unforgettable. Whether it is solid wood, engineered, unfinished or pre-finished, hardwood floor covering is an excellent choice for any floor space. The only problem is that when working with a classic product like hardwood, there can be a few complications. Nothing so exquisitely gorgeous ever comes without some sweat, tears, and a few smashed piggy banks.The important thing is to not waste quality wood flooring with bad installation. The DIY hardwood installation process can differ greatly from solid to engineered wood floors, just as it obviously does so with unfinished and pre-finished wood floors. It is important to know what these differences can be and how you can avoid making common mistakes with your hardwood purchases.

DIY Hardwood Installation for the Beginner

DIY Hardwood Installation

         I have assembled a short DIY Hardwood Installation checklist for beginners in the hardwood flooring market that will help you cover your basics when buying hardwood products and installing them in your home. These checklists are based off of NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association) guidelines and it is always recommended that you consult these guidelines as well as the product’s manufacturer guidelines prior to any installation procedures.

Solid or Engineered?  DIY Hardwood Installation Checklist for the Novice Consumer!


  1. What grade is my target floor space at within my home?


    1. Grade refers to the elevation of the floor space within your home.

      1. On Grade, refers to the first floor of the house which is level with surrounding earth.

      2. Above Grade, refers to floor spaces that are above the first floor of the house.

      3. Below Grade, refers to the floor spaces that are below the first floor of the home, and below the elevation of surrounding earth.


DIY Hardwood Installation


    1. Solid wood can only be properly installed at the On Grade and Above Grade levels within your home, installing them below grade would result in serious moisture complications.


    1. Engineered wood can be installed at any Grade within a structure, due to it’s intelligent design which makes it more resilient to varying moisture levels.


    1. No matter what grade you are installing at, it is always recommended that surrounding earth around your structure is sloped away.


  1. Have I properly tested the moisture levels of my hardwood product and my subfloor?


    1. The proper tools must be obtained to check the moisture levels of both the hardwood to be installed and the subfloor it will be installed upon.


    1. The difference in moisture levels must not be greater than:

      1. 2% in Plank Wood Flooring.

      2. 4% in Strip Wood Flooring.


  1. Is my target floor space above a basement or crawlspace?


    1. If so then you will need to make sure to properly inspect these areas and;

      1. Check dryness.

      2. Ensure  at least 18 inches between the ground and floor joists.

      3. Install a suitable moisture retarder over concrete or exposed earth.

      4. Ensure proper venting.


  1. Are the environmental conditions of my job site being adequately satisfied?


    1. If you are unsure then be sure to check and confirm that all of the following has been achieved before attempting to start any hardwood installation yourself or through a trusted installer.


      1. Make sure building is enclosed.

      2. Check HVAC (Heating and Air)

      3. Ensure Wet Work is complete. (Concrete, Paint, Masonry, Plaster, Drywall)

      4. Deliver wood only after you have confirmed proper environmental conditions.   

      5. Properly acclimate the wood flooring before installation process.


          I hope that this very basic DIY Hardwood Installation checklist is useful to any potential hardwood flooring consumers or DIY installers. There is much more to learn about the entire installation process, but for those who are still window shopping, this will get you off to a running start should you choose to install beautiful hardwood flooring in your home!

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