Expert Advice

Wood Flooring Pre-Installation Checklist

10 Nov

Posted by
Tom Plaskota
Technical Support Manager


Installing hardwood floors needs planning and careful consideration for numerous reasons. From adhesive selection to the final installation, it is important to be precise and thoughtful. This pre-installation checklist provides you with key points to consider when installing hardwood floors.


  • Substrate, adhesive and wood flooring must be acclimated in an enclosed building with the HVAC operational and running for at least 72 hours before, during and after the installation.
  • The installation temperature and relative humidity must be controlled between 60°F (15°C) and 85°F (30°C), and between 30% and 65% relative humidity, subject to the floor manufacturer’s requirements. Open time will vary with temperature and humidity or porosity of the substrate.
  • Wood flooring must be exposed to the air when being acclimated. However, follow the wood flooring manufacturer’s guidelines regarding site conditions and installation.
  • Keep the diversity of characteristics for adhesives in mind. Choosing the right product can make a difference in how long the floors will last.


  • The most common wood flooring installation mistake is to ignore the substrate. The substrate must be clean, solid, even and permanently dry. It must be free of dirt or other coatings so that the adhesive can bond to it.
  • Clean the concrete substrate by shot-blasting, scarifying and/or sanding.
  • Once the substrate is clean and all debris is removed, make sure to replace any water-damaged, swollen, or delaminated subflooring or underlayment.
  • Level the substrate to prevent flooring failure and fill in joints and cracks up to level with the surface.
    • Do not use an adhesive to level the substrate unless it offers crack-bridging capabilities.


  • Different types of subfloors such as concrete or wood need different types of moisture meter as using the same meter can yield incorrect results.
  • Use the correct meter to test every 1000 square feet at the minimum, reducing the risk of missing a trouble spot.
  • Moisture barriers are a critical component of hardwood floor installations. They keep out moisture that rises through the subfloor (especially when installing over concrete).
    • The three methods are nail down installations, glue down installations, and floating floor installations. The task at hand will determine which process to follow.
  • Make sure to leave expansion gaps between the wood and the baseboard as wood will react to moisture and expand.

Clean Up

  • Adhesives can be cleaned as you go with mechanical methods or with the use of solvents. Some wood flooring adhesives such as TEC® WoodPerfect™ clean easily from flooring and don’t require solvents. The safest procedure is to scrape off water-based adhesive with heat and water.
  • If you choose to clean as you go, use a dry cloth to wipe up wet adhesive. You may choose to use a water-dampened cloth, or even a cloth in combination with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Dry buff with a paper towel afterwards.

Finishing Products

  • The application of finishing products is essential to the durability of the wood floors and its aesthetics. The right finish can help prevent the wood from warping or expanding, and also prevent scratches.
  • Additionally, oils penetrate the wood. As a result, the wood fibers are strengthened within the plank.


Following the proper guidelines for the installation of wood floors are critical for the success of a project. The above points can help to install durable, long-lasting hardwood floors and a more efficient installation time. 

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