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What I Learned About Installing Engineered Floors

Posted by francesca_sf (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 12, 12 at 12:30

We just finished installing engineered flooring over our concrete slab and we are thrilled with it. We did a lot of the prep work ourselves, but hired a professional to do the actual installation.

I read a lot of great tips from all the fine folks here at Gardenweb over the last year. As a way to say thanks, here's my 2 cents about what I learned. Feel free to add what you learned to this thread.

We got 6 estimates. All thee companies could "lay the floor". But what distinguished the workmanship of the best, a guy named Art, was:

1. Transition from one space to another. In our open floor plan, the critical transition was from dining room to den and from dining room down a hallway. Art had great suggestions and could execute them well.
2. Design of floor: stagger of boards + selection of individual boards + how each board looks in relation to the ones around it. Art dry-fit and then removed a lot of boards to get the design just right.
3. Perimeter: No "skinny" boards of 1-2" at the perimeter due to lack of planning.
4. Trim: Elegant solutions. We have 5 aluminum sliding doors. Art came up with a solution which no one else did. All the others suggested nailing the trim to the top of the floor. This of course defeats the purpose of having a 1/2" expansion gap at the walls.
5. Precision: Excellent mitre cuts and 90-degree end cuts, no overwood (one end of board higher than the next). Every board was installed with care.
6. Knowledge of the specific flooring manufacturer's instructions. Your warranty is void if the floor installation does not precisely follow the manufacturer's instructions.

The 5 other criteria:
1. Before the sale, Art was willing to answer our questions in detail. This gave us a high level of trust in him which was well placed. It allowed us to have an easy collaboration when issues came up and to jointly make decisions quickly.
2. Professional:
Reliable (showed up at precisely 8.30 AM each day),
Fulfilled all promises - Art stuck with our job until it was done. Since we had some delays on the 1st day, Monday, Art and his crew came in on a Saturday - all day - to finish the job. The delay was not his fault. Although not his fault, he accepted it as his responsibility to work through it.
Neat, clean, respectful of our property
3. Personable, pleasant, excellent communicator. And treated his team respectfully.
4. Least expensive bid. $2.75/SF + $200 to cut and install 100' baseboard + $200 to cut and install 50' trim. He does not have a brick-and0-mortar store which reduced his overhead. Other bids were in the $3.50-$5+/SF range. We are in the SF Bay Area.
5. We liked that Art was our sole contact from estimate, through installation. Some of the other companies sent out an estimator who was NOT the person who would be doing the work. There seemed to be potential for things that we specified and which mattered to us to slip through the cracks. And there was no guarantee as to which crew would be sent out - Their 'A' team or their 'F-troop'.

Prep Tasks we completed, which a flooring installer could perform at additional cost:
1. Leveled concrete floor in kitchen
Difficulty: moderately easy
Cost: <$100 for Ardex Feathering Concrete
Key: (1) outline area and depth of depression, (2) work fast in a small area with 2 people, one to throw the concrete down, the other to level with a trowel; concrete dries in 10 min
2. Repaired concrete near sliding doors
Difficulty: easy; was NOT fast drying, so you could work it for as long as necessary; we chipped out 3", filled and leveled
Cost: <$10 for concrete patch at Home Depot
3. Ground down cement pad under fireplace
Difficulty: dirty, moderate physical labor required to hold the heavy grinder
Cost: free, Art lent us his grinder. But we had to throw out the vacuum cleaner and fan. This was less expensive than the $1000 bid we got from another floor installer. And that did NOT include clean up!
Key: Ventilation! We constructed a plastic tent around the cement pad and another to vent the dust out the door. We wore respirator masks and donned hazmat suits. We contained 90% of the dust, but it still took 1 1/2 days to clean up the mess.
4. Removed rugs
Difficulty: easy
Cost: $0, advertised the cut up rug pieces as "puppy training pads" on Craisglist; otherwise, $ to dispose of the rug at the dump
Key: remove rug, cut into 3x3 squares for easy disposal, remove tack strips, make sure you get all the staples out of the floor
Bonus: currently use the 3x3 squares as mats at the sliding doors until we get better ones; also used the rug squares to move furniture so we didn't scratch the new flooring (plush side down)
5. Moved furniture
Difficulty: mod physical exercise
Cost: $0
6. We asked Art to come inspect to make sure the floor was level and acceptable for laying the flooring. He gave us great advice throughout the process.


We supplied all the materials. These included:

1. Flooring material (625 SF + 20% overage)
Berg & Berg 94" x 7 11/16" x 9/16" engineered wood Brazilian Cherry
The 20% overage gave Art the ability to be very picky.

2. Trim and baseboard (100 LF + 10% overage)
We found a molding we liked, but it only came in MDF. We got a sample, and brought it to the mill. For $80 setup charge + $1.10/LF we got solid wood (poplar) rather than paying $2.95/LF for MDF. We primed and painted each piece with the same color paint as the walls in satin finish.

Trim - we sketched the profile we needed for the trim. The mill created a CAD image, ordered the Brazilian Cherry 1x2 blanks and milled the trim for us. It was a superb match with the floor. It was $85 setup charge + $3.19/LF vs $10-12/LF if purchased off the shelf, IF we could have found the correct dimensions (which we couldn't). Art sold us 1/2 quart of the flooring finish to seal the trim for $10. Otherwise we would have had to buy 1 gallon of the sealer and topcoat which would have run us $200.

3. 6 mil moisture barrier

4. Floating Floor Underlayment, paid $.60/SF for an excellent 1/8" pad

5. Glue Adhesive, as specified by floor manufacturer, $10/bottle; required 1.25 bottles

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What I Learned About Installing Engineered Floors

Thanks for that description of a good job done well. I am sure that it will help other folks tackle their flooring project.

RE: What I Learned About Installing Engineered Floors

You are welcome! So glad I could share. No need to reinvent the wheel for every renovation project.

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