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DIY Hardwood Flooring: Tales from the Frontlines

I’ve had a few questions about our floors, so I’m going to answer them all here and in a follow-up post, plus some lessons learned from two survivors who knew exactly nothing about hardwood floor installation before undertaking this giant project.
DIY glue-down engineered hardwood floors, south american walnut
You’ve probably seen a few episodes of some HGTV show in which hardwood floors are installed with a nailgun, by a carpenter who may have paused once to wipe a small bead of sweat off his forehead, then finished the job in a total of about 13 minutes.

So you know exactly what it’s NOT like to actually install hardwood floors.
carpenter clipart
“I just installed 1200 square feet of hardwood floors, and it’s not yet time for lunch!”
At least, not if you’re installing them on a slab (meaning, your house sits on a giant block of cement with no basement or crawlspace underneath).

The first step to installing hardwood floors is to evaluate what you can install in your space. 

If your house is on a slab, you have two installation options:

  1. Floating Floors: These are installed over your subfloor, but not actually nailed or glued directly to the floor – they “float above.”
  2. Glue-down Floors: Obviously, these are glued to the slab or subfloor.

We decided not to go with the floating floor option because when you walk on them, there can be a hollow, empty sound that makes them a little louder than glue-down floors.

So, glue-down it was!

See how happy and easy that sounds? Lies!

If you’re gluing down, you have narrowed down your options to engineered flooring only. Unlike solid hardwood floors, which are, um, solid hardwood, engineered hardwoods have several layers to them that give them stability and allow them to expand and contract, making them more like your easygoing, trustworthy boyfriend, and not like that boyfriend you had for a short time because you inexplicably had a major crush on him but couldn’t bring anywhere in public because he was unstable or had a unibrow.

(This just got weird. I’m sorry.)

Engineered hardwood flooring, hardwoods, walnut, south american

And this has all gotten much more technical than I ever wanted already. Let’s get back to the fun stuff: choosing your hardwoods.

I have a history of being a horrible decision-maker who instantly regrets my most expensive decisions. (See: my kitchen. My dining room. My paint color choices.) But I knew – in the depths of my soul – that dark, warm hardwood floors and I were meant to be joined together for all time and never tire of each other and never lose *the passion.*

Dark hardwoods, be my valentine.

So Andy and I set off on a grand shopping adventure with our three main requirements in mind:
1. Dark color
2. Engineered wood
>3. Costs less than, say, our mortgage. Or our firstborn.

We went to several flooring dealers and found most of our choices to be in the $4-6 per square foot range… until we saw “the one.”

It was in a Home Depot Clearance Center near our house, for something like $2 per square foot. It was dark, South American Walnut, and it was all: “Kelllllllllllllllllly. I’m everything you’ve ever wanted in a floor. I’m smooth, dark, handsome, latin. Te amo.”

And I was sold.

(Spoiler alert: it’s been a rocky romance, but more about that, and about the actual installation process, to come…)Has anyone else gone through this floor selection process? Any regrets about your choice? How’s the passion in your [flooring] romance?

Tips from DIYers on choosing, prepping, and installing hardwood floors. Totally possible to do it yourself!

UPDATE: See part 2 and part 3 on DIY hardwood floors

Let's connect


  1. rindercella @ neatheringourfest says:

    I too love long, dark and handsome, shiny alluring wood floors… I can't wait to see the next post! 🙂

  2. Live, Laugh, Love, Recycle says:

    Thanks for the comment on my salad post 🙂 I love cookies. But I actually went back for seconds on both those salads and chose them over whatever else we were eating.

    Your floors look great! We did floating floor laminate and tile in our last house, and it took about six months each time I did a room to get my courage up to move on to the next room. I can't wait for the next floor post 🙂 Barbara

  3. Erin @ My Rented House says:

    Dark floors are the way to go…we can't wait to refinish the ones in our almost-ours house (right now they're orangey red).

    And thank you for your kind comments on my blog–we can certainly be BFF members of the "I am or know someone who is a teacher of unpredictable and hormonally challenged 15 year-olds" club 🙂

  4. Surprisingly well-written and ionfrmaitve for a free online article.

  5. Hardwood floors are eye-catching and durable, and they increase the aesthetic value of your home. If you’re thinking of installing hardwood flooring on your own, however, consider these must-follow DIY steps so your floor will look professionally installed.

  6. Congratulations on all your amazing projects. We share your love of dark hardwood flooring, especially wide Walnut with its distinctive swirling grain.

  7. No matter if some one searches for his required thing, therefore he/she wishes
    to be available that in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.

  8. Love the simple, yet detailed, explanation of the laminate hardwood flooring process.

  9. Floating floors are a great option if you want hardwood without the expense.

  10. I thought I would surprise my hubby by installing hardwood floors in his office and the surprise was on me! His whole office had floating floors! I did not know you had to glue them down or hammer them down. We had to re-do the whole room! Thank you for reminding me of the basics!

  11. I allready have 4 rooms of hardwood that needs redone & 5 &2 baths need paint

  12. Remarkably well-written as well as ionfrmaitve for any free of charge on the internet post..rally helpful..thanks a lot.and I got some more ideas for help..

  13. I just came upon your website (what an amazing job you’ve done!) while researching walnut hardwood flooring. We’re looking at walnut engineered flooring ourselves and our hesitation comes from walnut apparently not being a very hard wood. How do you feel about it now? Is it holding out well? Thanks.

  14. I always love to keep coming back to your blog. Aside from it is nice and unique all your post is informative and fun to read. I am looking forward to read more of your post. Keep it up!

  15. So creative! Your floor looks really great! Thanks for sharing

  16. Can install a wood plank floor over concrete if you first install a layer of 3/4-in. plywood. You showed here the best way to do it.


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