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Concrete Floor Prep for Hardwood

Sep 9th 2015 at 1:04 PM

The installation of a hardwood flooring over a concrete base can pose a number of problems. To achieve a successful concrete floor prep for hardwood, the most important aspect is indeed that of preparation.

There are three main considerations: a flat, even surface, structural integrity, and moisture.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure the floor maintains a long-lasting beauty.


Flat and Even

Although the word ‘level’ frequently arises when discussing the laying of a floor, it’s not exactly correct since there is no level that can measure even a relatively small span of floor.

Thus, the specification is for 3/16 of an inch over eight to ten feet of floor area.

Any uneven spots can be located by laying out a plank and moving across the floor in a variety of directions, marking as you go.

Carefully sand down any minor humps and fill low spots with a leveling compound, with a method known as ‘screeding’. Once the screed is dry, check to ensure it’s flat, and sand if required.


Structural Integrity

In brief, structural integrity refers to a sub-floor that is completely intact – free of collapsed and degraded areas, cracks, and soft spots. In modern buildings, damage to structural integrity is rare, but that’s certainly not always true with respect to older buildings.



Concrete is porous and as such, it attracts moisture from the ground and the air. This is why it’s not recommended to install a thick, solid wood floor, and any solid wood floor should be above grade.

If there is too much moisture in the air, this will result in buckling and warping of the hardwood flooring. Thus, the first precaution is to use a moisture meter which ensures that the concrete sub-floor achieves recommended moisture content which has been specified by the manufacturer – normally 4 percent.

If laying a concrete sub-floor in a new building, allow plenty of time for it to cure before installing a hardwood floor – around 30 – 60 days is ample. This allows time for the concrete to compact which in turn means the moisture can redistribute in a more even fashion, thereby providing a more accurate moisture content reading.

Unless the area attracts a particularly low humidity, it’s recommended to use an underlayment with a moisture barrier.

Upon completion of the preparations, clean the floor thoroughly and be sure to remove any spatters of compound, nails, dust, or any other obstructions that may cause problems below the flooring.

A hardwood floor can last for a very long time, and it’s worthy of the extra effort to ensure the installation is correctly undertaken.

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