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How Can Your Concrete and Wood Meet Appropriately?

Installing hardwood floors over a concrete surface can be trickier than it seems. There are several potential problems that could arise during the process.

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Some elements of a house can drastically change its selling price. One of them being the flooring. While laminate floors will lower a home’s value, hardwood floors will likely increase it. Homes with hardwood floors are sought after and are more easily sold than houses with other floor types due to their luxurious appeal and ease to clean.  

Another perk of hardwood floors is their maintenance. These floors can be easily cleaned with simple dusting and shined with a polishing cleaner. When they start to show signs of everyday wear and tear, they can be sanded and refinished to look brand new. Also, hardwood floors don’t harbor dust mites, allergen-producing spores, and other microorganisms that can affect your health. 

To look their best and serve you for years (or decades) to come, hardwood floors need to be professionally installed. However, if you are placing them over a concrete surface, this process can be trickier than it seems.  

In this post, we will address the ways you can ensure that your hardwood floors and your concrete will meet appropriately. 

Uneven Floor

Fixing the Damaged Concrete

Before installing your new floors, it’s important to make sure that your concrete surface is in good condition. Simply put, having no cracks or collapsed areas anywhere. If you notice any of these, you’ll need to call an expert in Raleigh, NC as soon as possible.  

Cracks in concrete are often a sign of settlement, which is dangerous because it can compromise the stability of your entire home. Worst-case scenario, your home could eventually collapse over time. It is imperative to have a professional inspect your foundation to determine whether it is in bad shape. Fixing the underlying problem is essential and simply placing new flooring over cracked concrete is a recipe for a disaster. 

If a specialist lets you know that your foundation is settling, there is no reason to panic. There are simple ways this problem can be solved, and your home’s health restored. Let’s take a look at them. 

Push piers: Push piers are often used when there is foundation settlement. Their purpose is to lift the foundation back to its original position. Since they are galvanized, there is no need to worry about corrosion. Another benefit is that they are almost always invisible once installed. 

Helical piers: This type of pier is used for lighter structures, such as chimneys or patios. While push piers are driven into the ground, helical piers are screwed. Their job is also to lift the sunken foundation toward its original position. 

Slab piers: If your home was built on a concrete slab, your contractor may suggest slab piers. These are specifically designed for slab foundations and have the same purpose as helical and push piers. 

Leveling the Surface 

If your concrete is not cracked but uneven, it will need to be completely level before moving on with your project. There are several ways you can do this. If the concrete surface has bumps that are larger than 3/16 of an inch, they need to be sanded down with a grinder. Smaller bumps can be ignored, they won’t cause trouble during the installation. If your concrete has dipped, you could use a leveling compound to make the surface even again. 

Some homeowners wish to cover their patio with wooden planks for aesthetic purposes. If you have a patio you wish to embellish this way that is uneven, you can use a polyurethane foam injection to lift the sunken concrete. Afterward, you will be able to install the flooring properly. 

Drying out the Concrete 

Have you ever tried to wash your wooden cutting board in a dishwasher? Or spilled some water over your wooden desk without wiping it immediately? If so, you are aware of the effect water has on wooden surfaces. To ruin your new hardwood floors, you don’t have to spill a bucket of water on them. You can just install them over moist concrete and the damage is done!  

But why would your concrete be damp in the first place? Since concrete is a porous material, it contains numerous tiny pores that can soak up the moisture from the soil and the air. While low moisture levels won’t affect the wood, higher ones can cause planks to expand. When the planks have no more room to expand, your floor will begin to buckle. If you are lucky, this will happen in just one area of the room. Otherwise, your entire floor runs the risk of being destroyed. 

It is crucial to make sure that the concrete is completely dry before installing wooden floors. Preferably, moisture levels should be below 4%. You can use a moisture meter to measure the moisture levels, just keep in mind that this device only measures these levels in the upper layers of the concrete. Since moisture settles at the bottom of the concrete, you might be getting an inaccurate reading. 

If you have recently built your home, it’s best practice to wait at least two months before installing wood floors. This way, the concrete will have adequate time to cure.

Before the installation, it’s important to place a moisture barrier on the concrete. This barrier will keep the wooden planks dry and safe from water damage. This product comes in strips, which will need to be rolled out, and then connected with a special tape. When the hardwood floor is in place, the edges of the strips can be trimmed to fit accordingly.

When installing the floors, they must have a clean surface underneath them. Nails, dust, or spatters should not be present on the concrete and should be removed before installation, or otherwise, they will cause problems in the future. 

Are you dealing with damaged concrete? Contact Tar Heel Basement Systems and schedule a free inspection and quote. Our professionals will determine the cause of the problem and recommend suitable solutions for your home. 

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