Many homeowners opt for DIY hardwood flooring installation to save money and still enjoy the beauty of wood floors in their home. But inexperienced installers can make bad decisions that result in unattractive and even dangerous flooring. Please avoid these top three mistakes and realize the greatest value for your home.

Installing Hardwood Planks Over Particleboard

Particleboard consists of adhesive and wood by-products, otherwise known as sawdust. This combo works well for many construction applications, but the makeup and design of particleboard makes it a bad choice for subfloors. In simple terms, nails will not stay put. Flooring laid with glue (such as click-lock or laminate) also pulls off particleboard over time, resulting in an uneven, unattractive floor.

Did you remove your existing flooring and find a particleboard subfloor? Ripping the materials out and replacing that substandard subfloor with plywood is the only intelligent option.

Skipping the Subfloor Inspection

Not only do you need to have the right subfloor for hardwood flooring installation, but you also need to inspect that surface before laying the planks.

Two things you need to check on your subfloor include:

  • Level or flatness - your subfloor must be as level as possible in order to avoid overwood. This condition may not show up right away, but once overwood (lifted planks or significant gaps between ends and planks) appears it is very difficult to reverse.
  • Fasteners - your subfloor must be sturdy and well attached, using an adequate amount of quality fasteners. Subfloors with fewer nails or nails that missed the joists will move more drastically with the seasons. That movement causes your wood flooring to shift, pop, crack and possibly even split.

If your subfloor is not flat, remove and replace the boards using shims and other tactics to create a level surface. It's possible to have some grade over a long room, but this grade must remain minimal to allow for an attractive, durable wood floor installation.

Use additional or better quality fasteners to secure loose subflooring. Choose larger staples for subfloors that have loosened over time or invest in nails for the most stable surface.

Using Putty to Fill Holes and Gashes

Every hardwood flooring installation job results in a few scratches and dents. Even professionals end up putting a nick or two into the planks. But you don't need to sacrifice the finished product for those small mistakes.

Avoid using putty for larger gashes, holes and scratches. It may seem like an inexpensive, fast way to correct these problems, but that putty will not last and your wood floor will end up looking old and worm before its time.

Instead, commit to removing damaged planks and replacing them completely. This may seem like a picky method of installation, and you may need to purchase an extra carton or bundle of planks, but the finished look of your flooring will surpass expectations. And those tiny mistakes will fade from your memory.

Are you interested in DIY hardwood flooring installation? Talk to your wood flooring retailer and go for it, but remember to avoid these top three problems for an attractive, durable and valuable finish.