How To Avoid Problems When Installing Wood Flooring Over Concrete

Wood Flooring Moisture Control

Improper planning and other factors can lead to major damage in floors. What many people don’t realize is that a high-quality and durable floor doesn’t start with the flooring material itself, but instead with the foundation. Using techniques to seal moisture out of the foundation is the first step to building up a home or other building which will avoid flooring problems.

In this post, we will highlight the components necessary to make a moisture-free foundation and flooring job possible.

  • High-Quality Concrete

Using a high quality concrete is probably one of the most important aspects. Though concrete mixes with a higher percentage of water are easier to pour and work with, they are more brittle. The higher the water concentration in the mix, the more chances that the concrete will shrink or crack while it dries. These cracks and porous areas can sap moisture from the soil, along with other undesirable elements such as methane and radon. Avoid this by opting for a low-water mix of concrete in the design. Though it requires more labor to mix and finish, a low-water mix will be dense, durable, and less porous. It will also resist cracking as it dries, and bead away moisture once cured.

  • Keep Moisture At Bay

Building up the floor’s moisture resistance is the next most important aspect of creating an excellent foundation.  This starts with a moisture barrier to be laid between the concrete slab and the earth below.  While polyethylene film is easy to install and low-cost, it is also easily punctured, ripped or otherwise breached.  We recommend a higher quality barrier such as DELTA®-MS or DELTA®-DRAIN which make a good capillary break and DELTA®-DRAIN will also provide water control below slab. Both could replace the gravel normally used below slab. For more information visit our website.

  • Acclimate Wood Prior To Installation

While it is more common to use laminated flooring in basements, if you choose to use hardwood, it must be acclimated.

Once the moisture-proof foundation is built, it’s time to ready the hardwood flooring panels.. Acclimating the hardwood is essentially the act of allowing it to adjust to the humidity and temperature of the space it will be installed in. This ensures that the wood rests properly and will adjust to the installation without excess shrinkage/expanding, buckling, cupping, and deep structural damage. To acclimate the wood, ensure that the heat/air in the space it’s to be installed in has been running at normal living temperatures at least three days prior to the arrival of the wood. Now, the wood can be acclimated in one of two ways:

In The Box – Prior to installation, the wooden panels may be left in the boxes they came in with the end flaps open. Line them up on the surface they’re to be installed on in a single layer.

Outside The Box – Removing the wooden planks from their boxes is the best way to acclimate them as air has access to all sides of the planks. Remove the planks from their boxes and arrange them on the floor in the pattern in which they are to be installed.

When using either method, be sure that the air in the building has been running as it would during normal day to day activity. Allow the wood to sit for at least a day prior to installation.

  • Seal Perimeter Of The Underlayment

If a vapor barrier has not been installed below the foundation then an underlayment will need to be installed and sealed before the wood flooring is installed. The underlayment is a moisture proof layer installed between the foundation and the flooring above. To make it completely moisture proof, the edges must be sealed off prior to the installation of the hardwood or other paneling over top. DELTA®-FL is an excellent underlayment to consider.

Correctly incorporating these moisture control steps will ensure that the floor is completely sealed from the elements for years to come. Of course, these steps don’t just apply to floors. You can visit our website for more information about how to use these steps to seal roofing and basement walls when designing.