How Long Does It Take to Install Hardwood Floors?

If you’re lucky, your home came with beautiful hardwood floors. Perhaps you tore up the carpet and revealed the preferable floor that was there all along. But if you were not so lucky, you will have to install your own. 

Are you wondering how long does it take to install hardwood floors? Our guide here details the things you should know. Keep reading to learn about hardwood floors and the installation process. 

Why Hardwood?

Why install hardwood floors at all? Wood flooring gives your house an air of sophistication, warmth, and style that other floors don’t. They look beautiful. They feel luxurious to walk over and improve the overall style of your space.

But apart from those reasons, wood floors are easier to keep clean than carpet and they last forever. Carpet attracts and traps bacteria and dirt, while hardwood floors are much more hygienic since you can clean the surface so easily. 

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact, rest easy.

Since hardwood floors can last over 100 years, their ecological footprint is minimal. The floor will likely need to be sanded and refinished every twenty years or so. Fortunately, the wood is typically thick enough for this to be done at least 6 times

That covers a lot of years!

Hardwood floors also add a lot of value to your home if you decide to sell it. Many buyers look specifically for good hardwood floors in a house they’re interested in buying and will be willing to pay a premium for them. 

But the real reason to get hardwood floors is that you want them. For many people, they just look and feel better and more interesting than carpet or vinyl.

Even though hardwood floors have been around for centuries, the demand is still on the rise! It has never gone out of style and probably never will. Its timeless, classic look goes with any decor you’d ever want in your house. 

Some of the most popular choices of hardwood include red or white oak, American cherry wood, and hard maple wood.

Oak is the most popular in the United States since it’s known for being easy to work within a wide variety of settings. Red oak is the easiest to cut, while white oak is a bit hard and more durable. 

Cherry wood is somewhat less common but interesting to use as a hardwood floor since it changes color with time. It gets darker with age. 

Finally, maple wood has been used since colonial times and is still a top choice for flooring. It’s tougher than oak and more resistant to scratches. 

Of course, if you prefer a softer, warmer flooring, hardwood flooring might not be for you. Carpet may be your best option. Flooring is a personal preference, though hardwood is an enduring preference. 

How Long Does It Take to Install Hardwood Floors? 

Of course, the exact time it takes to install a hardwood floor varies according to several factors. But a quick and easy answer is that it takes a few weeks to properly install. It also may take a few weeks for the hardwood to arrive after being ordered. 

Some obvious factors that influence how long it takes are how large an area is being installed, the condition of the current flooring, and what type of hardwood floor you’re installing.

The trend lately has been to go with 3.25-inch planks rather than the traditional 2.25-inch width. The wider the plank, the fewer individual pieces need to be installed, which speeds up the time a little bit. 

One less obvious factor has to do with the humidity level. See below for the details on the acclimation process to address issues with humidity and wood flooring. 

Acclimation Process

A critical part of installing hardwood floors is acclimating the moisture in the wood to match the moisture in your home. How do you adjust the moisture level? It’s an easy, but slow process. 

The best way to acclimate the wood is to simply set it out and leave it in the house for at least 5 days. A week or even up to 10 days is even better. There is a misconception that two days is enough. 

During the time, the wood has a chance to naturally come to the same moisture level as the rest of the house. You then use a wood moisture meter to determine the exact level and whether or not the wood is ready for installation. 

Why is this important? If the moisture in the subfloor is greater than the wood flooring, the flooring will attract moisture into it and expand. If the wood flooring has more moisture than the subfloor, the opposite is true.

The subfloor would then attract the extra moisture and the wood flooring will become too dry and split apart. The moisture of the new flooring needs to match the subfloor.

On average, this is going to be at about 9% relative humidity for the actual wood flooring. That’s assuming that the house itself hovers between about 35 to 60 percent relative humidity. 

This passive process takes about a week of the entire installation process, and involves the wood flooring just laying in the room it will be used in. Take moisture readings from several planks before assuming it’s ready to use. 

The pieces of flooring should each be open to the air (ie. you can stack them, but staggered so each piece gets airflow.) 

The Order Matters

The ordering that the construction process happens in is important to the success of the hardwood floor. The delivery of the flooring shouldn’t happen until any wet aspects of the job (plaster or paint) have already dried.

Then, you should take a reading of the relative humidity in the space. If it isn’t between 35-60 percent relative humidity, the wood should not be delivered yet.

Once everything that was wet is dry, and the humidity is in the right range, then the wood can be delivered and you can start the acclimation process. 

If this happens in a different order, you will likely have moisture problems in the future that could have been avoided. (An exception is certain engineered hardwood flooring which does not need to be acclimated.)

The Actual Installation

After the wood is acclimated, the actual installation process can start. This usually only takes two to three days to do. The larger or more difficult the job, the longer it would take, but it’s roughly a few days.

The first two days are typically spent removing the old flooring and installing the new wood flooring. The third day is usually spent cleaning up and redoing the trim and any other details that still need attention. 

The condition of the subfloor may also cause the job to last a bit longer. Sometimes as the old floor is removed it becomes clear that the subfloor needs repair before you install new flooring. 

One current trend in hardwood floors is to go with larger individual planks of wood. The larger the plank, the quicker the installation process will go. 

Finishing up 

If you have installed flooring that’s come pre-finished from the factory, this step isn’t necessary and will shave 4-5 days off the total time.

But, if the flooring is unfinished when it’s installed, you’ll need to stain and seal it. Many people prefer to install unfinished wood because it tends to look the most uniform when it’s finished on site.

Unfinished wood does require sanding, as well, which adds a little time. Prefinished wood does not need sanding or staining and is, therefore, more convenient. 

There are combination stain and sealant products that will shorten this time a little bit. Otherwise, each layer needs to be applied separately and you must wait a day before applying the next layer.

Typically, you’ll want two or three layers of polyurethane sealant. This means you’ll need a day for the stain and two or three days for the sealant. Then, you’re all set with your new floor!

How Does the Installation Time Compare to Other Flooring?

Hardwood flooring takes a little longer than most other flooring types, but that is no reason not to get it. You’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of having a great floor for just a few days or weeks longer on the installation.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is popular with some people because it can look like wood but is cheaper and quicker to install. You still have to give it a few days to acclimate, just like real hardwood flooring.

After that, though, the process is quick, only taking a matter of hours to install at that point. And you do not have to finish the surface. This could be an easier start for someone installing their first flooring. We offer laminate flooring, as well!

Carpet

The installing time for carpet is the fastest. It does take some prep work just like anything else. The measuring, cutting, and planning can take a few hours. The actual installation then takes several more hours on average. 

There are several factors that affect the actual time (size, the complexity of the space, experience, etc.) but generally installing carpet only takes a day or two.  

Tile Flooring

Tile flooring takes about 1-3 days to install. Like all the others, there is some prep work to be done before actually laying the tile. You have to inspect the subfloor and make sure it’s undamaged and level. 

Then, you can set the tiles using a mortar. The size of the tile will determine how fast this part of the process is–the smaller the tile the longer it will take. If the tiles are unglazed, they’ll need to be sealed, too. Most tiles come prefinished and don’t require that, though. 

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring, including newer vinyl plank flooring, is durable and easy to install. Standard vinyl flooring can be installed in a few hours by professionals. It may take you a little longer if you don’t have the experience, but not more than a few days. 

Vinyl planks can be made to look like wood but are much easier to install. They clip together and don’t require glue or adhesive. Again, it will not take professionals more than a day to do, and you can likely do it yourself in a few days.

Since it looks good, is more waterproof than real wood, and easy to install, this type of flooring has become quite popular. Of course, for those that want real wood, there is no real substitute. 

Learn More

So, how long does it take to install hardwood floors? It takes a mere couple of weeks for a lifetime of classy, functional flooring that never goes out of style. Installing hardwood floors is a significant decision, but almost always a good one!

The first 5-7 days are for acclimating the moisture in the wood, the next several days for the actual installation, and the last 3-4 days for finishing the surface and cleaning up.

Call today or check out the rest of our website for great flooring options today! We have all the types of flooring mentioned in this article and several more beyond that. Check out reviews of lots of flooring options on our site, as well.  

If you are are ready to install a beautiful hardwood floor in your home (or any of our great flooring options) please contact us today. We can answer any questions you still have about the type of flooring you should get and what to expect for the installation process.

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