The author had the chance to install 600 square feet of prefinished hardwood in a home in Garland, TX.

The author recently had the opportunity to install 600 square feet of prefinished hardwood in the living room, entry, and hallway of a home in Garland, TX. The installation team installed Mannington Mills Concord 9/16-inch, five-ply, 3-inch square-edged plank, which was delivered three days prior to installation to allow for acclimation.

Before starting the installation, the team was provided with some valuable information by the homeowners. The old carpet, carpet cushion and tack strip had been removed, and there was a low area in the concrete floor of the living room, near the entry. To determine where and how much leveling was needed, the team stretched a chalk line across the floor at various points, going both the length and width. The problem areas were then marked on the floor, with an “F” for featheredge, and fractions notating the depth the floor filler needed to be in those areas (photo 1).

There were three large areas requiring float, the largest of which began in front of the fireplace and extended to the front of the back door. The team mixed 300 pounds of self-leveling float in the low areas, using a six-foot straight edge to help the leveling process. One end of the straight edge was rested near an “F” point and, using that location as a pivot point, the team pulled the filler over the low areas.

Because self-leveling float will not featheredge, the team used a multi-purpose filler over and around the first application. It was set up overnight, scraped smooth, and used as a featheredge filler, the edges smoothed out with a trowel. After the final scraping, it was ready for the hardwood to be installed (photo 2).

After removing the threshold by the backdoor, the team trimmed the door jams and installed ½-inch plywood for backside support (photo 3). A straight line was chalked approximately two feet in front of the semi-circled stone fireplace. The adhesive was spread with the recommended trowel, and wood was installed up to the fireplace.

Working from the fireplace to the left, some tricky cuts were made around the rocks, allowing the wood to be tapped in as close as possible. The team continued around to the right and worked their way toward the opposite wall. After the new threshold was installed, the door was trimmed for a good, tight fit (photo 4).

The most creative moment of the project came when the team concocted a caulk paste to use as filler next to the rocks. Using floor filler, water, sawdust, topsoil, and some wood stain, the team was able to almost perfectly match the color in the rocks and mortar.

The next day, after shifting the furniture onto the newly completed area, the team tackled the living room, trimming the remaining door jams and preparing a new threshold in the same manner as they did at the back door. Before applying adhesive over the polished marble in the entry, a flat trowel was used to spread a thin coat of latex primer. After letting it dry for 45 minutes, the team spread the adhesive. The procedure helped to ensure proper bonding to the marble (photo 5). Plastic spacers were placed at the end of the planks to hold the wood joints tight, then later removed. Odorless charcoal starter fluid was used to remove the excess adhesive on the wood surface.

The installation required a jig saw, a circular saw, and a miter saw. The miter saw was used for cutting the 3-inch planks, as well as the angles on the quarter round. The prefinished solid oak quarter round helped add a professional finishing touch. The 4d finishing nails were set, the holes covered with a stained filler. A darker stain was applied afterward with a Q-tip to achieve a shade match.

The placement of transition trim in the doorways was an important consideration. If there was no door in place, trim was installed in the center of the doorway. Because the kitchen had brick pavers, T-mold was installed at the living room/kitchen doorway, and Z-bar at the entry/dining room doorway. Z-bar was also installed in the doorways with a door, positioned so the transition would be under the door.

The completed installation (photo 6 and 7) fit in very well with the rest of the home.