Installing wood floors in your home can come with a variety of benefits. Aesthetically, it adds warmth to the room, while never going out of style and it automatically increases a home’s market value. Apart from that, wood floors are highly durable and resistant to everyday wear and tear. They are easy to maintain and can be cleaned with sweeping and polishing. They are better than carpets since they do not harbor parasites such as dust mites, pests, or allergen-producing spores. They also encapsulate warmth better than other floor types, but to do that, they need to be properly installed. However, installing a wood floor over concrete can be a complicated venture. There are many things that could go south, so it is important to be prepared. If you wish to install wood floors over a concrete slab, here are several things to keep in mind.
Repairing the Damaged Concrete
Installing wood floors over damaged concrete is a recipe for disaster. Before installation, it is imperative to make sure that your concrete floor is intact and free of cracks and collapsed areas. These are common signs of foundation settlement, so it is better to have the situation checked out than to install wood floors over damaged concrete. If a licensed specialist determines that you have a settlement problem, there are several ways they can fix it:
Push piers: These are often used to repair problems caused by foundation settlement. Push piers are driven into the ground, and they are designed to lift back the foundation to its original position and prevent it from settling again. These are galvanized so they will not rust after installation.
Helical piers: Helical piers are screwed into the soil and are used for lighter structures. They come with a longtime warranty.
Slab piers: A settling slab foundation can be easily repaired with slab piers. These are installed in deep stable soil to lift the foundation back to its original position.
Lifting and Stabilizing the Surface
To make the wood and the concrete meet properly, you need to make sure that the concrete is level. According to specifications, within any eight to 10-foot range, there should be no holes or bulges that exceed 3/16 of an inch. If your concrete floor is not even, you can sand down smaller bumps with a concrete grinder. Another option is to fill dips, low spots and gouges with a leveling compound before installing wood floors.
At JES, we offer polyurethane foam injections, which is a durable and affordable solution to your concrete lifting issues. With this method, we can lift sunken concrete back to its original level without any extra added weight.
Solving the Moisture Problem
Moisture is another factor that is problematic when it comes to placing wood over concrete. Concrete is porous, which means it absorbs moisture from the air and the ground. One of the reasons why it is not recommended to place solid wood installations over concrete. Wood can tolerate moisture to some degree, but too much of it and the wood begins to swell and rot. If a lot of moisture is soaked into the planks, they begin to push beyond the small space allocated for movement. Eventually, the boards completely crowd the space and have nowhere to go but up. This is when buckling and warping happen, which can occur in just one area, or destroy the entire floor.
Before installing wood floors, the moisture in the concrete must be at the recommended level, which is about four percent. If your home was recently built, wait two months before installing a wood floor to be sure that the concrete has cured completely. Afterward, place an underlayment with a moisture barrier that will keep the moisture from the concrete from damaging the wood. Underlayment comes in strips, which are rolled out to cover the entire floor. The strips are connected with a special tape, and the ends of the strips can be trimmed after the flooring is installed. For the wood and the concrete to meet appropriately, the concrete must be free of any debris such as nails, dust, or spatters of the compound. Otherwise, they will cause problems under the floorboards.
Do you wish to repair your damaged concrete slab or waterproof your foundation? Call the experts at JES, serving the Washington, D.C., metro area for a free inspection and repair quote.