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Glue down hardwood floors in the basement

Updated on March 15, 2010

How To Glue Down Hardwood Floors in the Basement

If you are thinking about installing hardwood floors in the basement, you will have two options available to you as far as wood flooring goes. The first is to use a floating floor which will "float" over the subfloor. The other option is to install the floor using a hardwood floor glue or adhesive. In this article, I am going to discuss how to lay a hardwood floor in the basement by glueing the floor down.

First of all, solid hardwood should not be installed in basements or areas that are below the soil line or below grade. The levels of humidity and moisture will have much more adverse effects on solid wood as opposed to engineered wood, which is not only more durable but also not as susceptible to humidity and moisture. Engineered hardwood simply reacts better to a below grade installation thanks to how it is constructed; the wood is actually several plies of plywood and particle board glued together in 90 degree angles to the adjacent layers. While not impervious to moisture, the end result is a more stable product, dimensionally speaking.

There are some advantages to using a glue down method as opposed to the more traditional nail down installation though. For one, when you are dealing with a basement, a glued-down wood floor will be quieter than a traditional floor above the soil line. It will also be more secure as the planks are literally tightly bonded to the concrete subfloor.

Make sure you check your humidity and moisture levels first before starting the project

While I won't go into this since I have already written about it in my hardwood floors in basements guide, it is paramount that you make sure that your moisture and humidity levels aren't too high. Engineered hardwood can withstand greater fluctuations in humidity than solid wood but only to a point. You can do this with a moisture meter. Ideally, the amount of humidity that you should aim for is between 30-50%. If it is higher, then you will need to do a spot check around appliances and walls to see if you can eliminate the source of moisture getting into your basement before laying the wood. Sometimes it is the subfloor itself that is the problem (from ground water that rises above the foundation or in the crawl space); sometimes the walls need to be further insulated.

Your Basement Slab Must be Level to install your wood floor

Another very critical part to installing a wood floor, whether this is above or below grade is to make sure that the subfloor or in this case, the basement slab, is flat and level. Not doing so will absolutely make the installation unsuccessful. There are various way to level a subfloor but the most common way is to use a self leveling grout product. Always go with the grout that is suggested by the manufacturer.

A clean Basement slab is another important part of a glue down floor

While it may seem obvious, you will want to make the basement slab as clean and free of dirt, dust and debris as humanly possible. Not doing so will result with the glue not bonding properly to wood when you are laying it.

Once you have determined that the basement is free of excessive moisture, the basement slab is flat and level, and the subfloor is clean and free of dust, you can start laying the floor.

Step One: Start by chalking a line in the center of the room

The first step is to chalk a straight line in the center of the room. By doing this, you will be able to make sure that you are going to be laying the floors in a straight line.

Step Two: Your first section of wood will follow the chalk line in the center of the room

For this section, you won't be applying an adhesive but instead using a screw to temporarily keep the boards in place.

Step Three: Trowel the glue to the basement slab

In this step, you will trowel out the glue following the explicit instructions according to the engineered hardwood manufacturer.  Not following this will likely void your warranty.  Use only the recommended trowel notch size and only apply as much glue as necessary.  Typically, the manufacturer of the glue will give you a working time frame to use.  Only apply as much glue as your feel you can install according to this time frame.

Step Four: Install the engineered hardwood

Now, all that remains is the actual installation of the wood.  Most engineered wood has a tap and tongue section to each plank or section.  You will simply take a hammer and a scrap piece of wood and tap the pieces together until they are flush with each other.  There should be no spaces in the groove where the planks meet.

Don't forget that you need to keep a expansion gap along the perimeter where the baseboards will go.  This will also help prevent buckling of the hardwood as it expands.

Step Five:  Run a weight over the freshly laid wod floor to bond the floor to the wood

The final step is to take a 20+ pound weight and roll it over the floor you just installed.  This will help the glue to secure a strong bond between the flooring and the basement slab.

That's it.  If you are looking to install a glue down hardwood floor in your basement, then moving through those steps, step-by-step should have you with a beautiful hardwood floor in your basement in no time.  The actual installation of the flooring is the small part though.  Once you have done the prep work, you should be able to fly right through it.


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    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Another good flooring hub. Thanks.