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Installation - Solid Floors

Modified on 2007/12/27 13:15 by Administrator Categorized as Somerset Hardwood
Installer / Owner Responsibility

Somerset products should be installed by a qualified hardwood flooring mechanic. Many important decisions affecting the performance and appearance of the installed floor must be made on the installation site, and therefore are the responsibility of the installer and/or owner. These include, but are not limited to, complete evaluation of site conditions including moisture testing of the entire site and flooring, acclimation of flooring to proper site conditions, site preparation, flooring layout, milling, grade and color, proper installation methods, and clean up. DO NOT INSTALL any flooring if there is any question as to acceptability — INSTALLATION CONSTITUTES ACCEPTANCE. Additional technical information can be obtained from the National Wood Flooring Association at www.nwfa.org.

Site Conditions, Handling, and Storage

Somerset solid hardwood flooring may be installed above or on grade (outside soil level). Never install below grade (where soil is present along any perimeter wall and is more than 3” above the installed wood flooring level).

Somerset floors must be installed after all other construction that may affect them is completed. Concrete, drywall, plumbing and any other “wet work” should be thoroughly cured.

Keep flooring dry at all times. Provide good air circulation around pallets, bundles, or cartons. Do not stack flooring bundles or cartons more than three layers high, and maintain a flat stack. Record flooring moisture content upon delivery and at time of installation for future reference.

Factory finished flooring is finished wood work, and should be handled carefully to avoid damage to the finished face, edges, corners, etc.


Solid hardwood flooring must be acclimated to stable, permanent site conditions before installation. Hardwood flooring should be between 6 and 9% moisture content, and the subfloor and flooring should be within 4% of each other (2% on wider planks). In no case should the moisture content of either exceed 12%.

Permanent HVAC must be in operation before, during, and after installation. A temperature of 70 degrees F +/- 10 degrees and a relative humidity between 35-55% is recommended. Heating units or un-insulated ductwork close to the flooring or sub-floor may cause “hot spots” which must be eliminated prior to installation.

Radiant Heat: Somerset recommends only narrow widths (2-1/4, 3”, and 3-1/4”) of solid hardwood flooring may be installed over modern radiant heat systems (excluding exotic species). As installation and heating system conditions are very detailed, please consult NWFA and the manufacturer of the heating system for further details. Somerset cannot be responsible for improper use of radiant heat.

Site Moisture is the most important factor. Confirm proper drainage exists around the structure. In crawl spaces, exposed earth must be fully covered with minimum 6-mil polyethylene sheeting. Crawl space vents must be open at all times, and must equal at least 1.5% of the total square footage of the crawl space. Basements must be dry and remain dry.

Sub-Floor Types And Conditions


The sub-floor must be clean, dry, flat (within 3/16” in 10’), and structurally sound. Correct any joints or areas that are not flat. Securely fasten any loose boards or panels.


CDX plywood or OSB subfloor/underlayment grade is recommended. Minimum single layer sub-floor thickness is 5/8” plywood on 16” o.c. joists or 23/32” OSB on 19.2” o.c. joists. The flooring must run perpendicular to the floor joists, or additional sub-floor thickness is required (refer to NWFA for more details).


Somerset solid hardwood flooring may be installed over concrete subfloors by first installing a wood subfloor or screed system (refer to NWFA for details).

Installation Preparation

Allow 3/4” expansion space between the wood flooring and any walls or other obstructions. Undercut door jambs, casings, drywall, etc. A clearance of 1/16” above the floor is recommended so the floor fits underneath and allows proper expansion space. Over the subfloor, install a layer of #15 building felt, overlapped 4” at the seams. After applying the felt, chalk joist locations for reference when nailing. Layout

The best appearance is usually achieved by installing parallel to the length of the room, but always install perpendicular to the floor joists unless special sub-floor conditions are met (see wood sub-floors). While each job is unique, it is critical to establish a primary working line for the entire job (usually through the longest continuous area to be installed) and reference all flooring layout from that line. Always rack out the flooring before installing to avoid clustered end joints and repeating patterns. Work simultaneously from several cartons to achieve good color distribution. Fastening

Use caution to avoid edge and face damage during installation. Special footer plates are available for flooring tools to protect factory finished flooring faces and edges. Use backer boards of 1/2” plywood ripped to an appropriate width to establish straight lines. Backer boards should be secured to the sub floor and carefully aligned with starter lines.

Use flooring fasteners (cleat or staple) minimum 1-1/2”, (avoid conflict with concrete under subfloors and radiant heat systems). Air pressure should be regulated so the fastener seats fully in the groove, but does not split the tongue or wood below it. Nailing schedule is standard NOFMA, for strip 8-10”, 1-3” from end joints, for plank 8”.

Face nail only as required with 7d or 8d finish nails or cleats, 1/2” from the groove, pre-drilling the nail holes to prevent splitting. Nailing schedule is the same as with blind fasteners (above). Face nails should be counter sunk and covered by molding or properly filled.

Adhesive/fastener Installation:

On wider width planks (4” and wider), combining adhesives and fasteners is an option to minimize flooring movement after installation. #15 felt paper should be omitted when using adhesives. Use a quality urethane hardwood flooring adhesive.

Follow all practices recommended by the adhesive manufacturer including adhesive temperature, room temperature and humidity, proper ventilation, spread rate, open time, safety procedures and equipment, clean up and cure time. Avoid allowing urethane adhesive residue to dry on the face of the flooring. Special cleaners are available (from the adhesive manufacturer) to clean off any residue.

Aggressive solvents may attack the finish, so test any cleaner for finish compatibility before using it on installed flooring.

Finishing Touches

Somerset offers five standard molding profiles factory finished to blend with your Somerset wood floor. These moldings will address most trim and transition situations quickly and cost effectively, and should be ordered with the flooring to avoid needless delays in closing.

Fill any nail holes or small cracks with the proper filler (Somerset Touch-Up Kits are available). Leave the touch up kit with your customer for their use as needed.

Clean the floor thoroughly and remove all scraps and debris. Leave care and maintenance information for the consumer. A Somerset floor care kit makes a good closing gift, and starts them on the right maintenance program.

Note: Applying additional finish over the factory finish may cause problems and does not improve durability or seal the joints. Any finish materials used that are not recommended by Somerset Hardwood Flooring will void your warranty.

If you have questions about proper installation, contact Somerset, your Somerset distributor, or the National Wood Flooring Association (www.nwfa.org).

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