Thinking About Installing Hardwood Flooring On Your Patio? Here’s How to Do It Right!

Even though hardwood flooring isn’t the most common option used for patios, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it. In actual fact, hardwood will give your patio a sleek look.

First things first, here’s what you need to consider before going shopping:

  • Get an idea about the materials that you’re going to need
  • Prepare the subfloor and fasten the paper underlayment
  • Let the materials adjust to your patio’s humidity
  • Attach the first flooring row to the subfloor
  • Rip the final row of flooring and don’t forget to fasten it in place
  • Sand and give the hardwood floor the final touch.

Engineered wood flooring or solid wood flooring?

When it comes to hardwood flooring, there are two main types to try:

•    Engineered wood flooring

This type is thinner than solid wood flooring most of the time. It’s the best option if you’re planning to install the hardwood floor on your own as it comes pre-finished, so you don’t need to sand it or to give it a final touch.

Due to its nature, the engineered wood flooring is more stable than solid wood and takes the extreme temperatures and humidity a lot better. This is why it’s an excellent choice for your patio, and you may install it above and below grade.

•    Solid wood flooring

This is a somewhat traditional choice. It’s thicker and poses a substantial risk for twisting, expanding, warping. It may also contract from the changes and temperature. However, you may sand it and refinish it several times. You can install it on your patio, but you need to follow some major rules to avoid damage from moisture.

How to prepare for the hardwood flooring

Let’s highlight once again that installing hardwood flooring isn’t cheap nor easy and you should be ready for all the spending and the strenuous work. Planning every single step of the way is fundamental.

You should install the new flooring on a smooth, clean, level and structurally stable base. If you’re going to leave the old flooring, you need to solve anything that isn’t right about it. Remember that the new hardwood flooring is going to raise the flooring level of your patio, so take a look at the transition options as well.

What are the steps to take?

Without any further ado, let’s see step by step how to install hardwood floors on your patio:

1. Get rid of the base molding and remove any doors

No matter if you’re installing it over some old flooring or not, you should begin with eliminating doors and base shoe molding. Number the molding pieces for later use. You need to prepare the flooring, but it depends a lot on the base that is beneath it.

2. Prepare the subfloor

The subfloor has to be dry, flat, structurally intact, squeak-free and clear of any fasteners or bumps. Use a carpenter’s level to check for any rises or dips. Sand down the bumps if that’s the case.

You need to reduce the risk for humidity infiltration, so the crawlspace beneath the raised floor shouldn’t be less than 18 in. high. It also has to be well vented with 1.5 sq. ft. of vent area for every 100 sq.ft. of the crawlspace.

3. Install hardwood flooring on a concrete slab

The slab has to be flat, with no low or high spots. A trowel finish that is clean is also a must for the slab.

Remember that hardwood flooring is one of the last steps to do, so make sure that all the fixtures and appliances are already in place.

4. The hardwood flooring layout and preparations

You should mark the placements of floor joists right at the wall’s base, snapping the chalk lines across the underlayment for identifying their place.

It’s best that you begin the installation at the longest, most open straight wall. Roll out 15-pound asphalt-laminated Kraft paper flooring underlayment so that you reduce floor noise, and to ensure a vapor barrier.

Use your utility knife to cut the paper around any objects on your patio (that you cannot remove anymore) and overlap the edges of the Kraft paper by 3 inches.

You need to make sure that the opposite wall is parallel (or the margin of your patio) and make the necessary adjustments if anything.

5. Cut and fasten the hardwood flooring

Take a look at the manufacturer’s instructions, as there are specific notes for various types of flooring.

Use the power saw for ripping the flooring and a circular saw or miter saw for the crosscuts. Cut your boards face down with the circular saw, making sure that the end cuts are perfect squares. Use a jigsaw for the irregular cuts.

6. Fasten the hardwood flooring

You’re going to use face nailing and blind nailing for nailing the boards to the subfloor. Go with a power nailed for the face nailing and a pneumatic flooring nailer for the blind nailing. This way, you’re not going to damage the flooring, and you’re going to do it a lot faster too.

7. Lay the first rows of wooden floor

Use straight boards for the first three rows of flooring. Cut one starter board for every row and the boards should come with different lengths (at least 6inches).

Face nail the first strip of flooring, using ½-in spacers along the base of the wall. Use a measuring tape so that you have the same distance at both ends. Top nail the board to the subfloor with 1 1/2in finishing nails. The heads should be below the surface and install all boards in the first row. If you’re going to blind-nail by hand, it’s best that you predrill nail holes.

For the second row, you should fit the board so that its groove interlocks tightly with the tongue from the first row. Protect the tongue with a tapping block, tapping the second-row board tight against the first row.

Continue with blind-nailing through the tongue, placing a nail 3 to 4 inches from the end of every board. It should be 8 to 10 inches along the length.

8. Complete the hardwood flooring

Make sure you sort and position the board well in place. Stagger the end joints by at least 6 inches. Remember to cut boards to fit at every end. If you’re going to use a flooring nailer, it’s best that you cover the metal base with some masking tape, so it doesn’t scratch the hardwood floor.

You may glue the ends of the board right after you fit them snug against it. Don’t stop until you’re done with the whole floor. As you get to the end, you may need to use the top-nails once again. Use a small pry bar for forcing the boards really tight.

Once you’re at the final row, you may have to rip-cut lengths of flooring for the best fit. Eliminate any spacers and cut off excess underlayment. Install the baseboards and the shoe moldings, but nail them to the wall and not the floor. Use transition strips between the new floor and flooring materials. Use some matching putty for filling any remaining nail holes.

One tip before you go

Wood flooring (solid wood flooring in particular) is prone to moisture problems. You need to give it time to adjust to your patio’s normal humidity level before actually installing it as you want to prevent the contraction and expansion. Remove the packaging and stack the hardwood floor for a couple of days on your patio (as long as it’s good weather or your patio is protected).

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