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How to Level a Floor So You Can Install Engineered Hardwood

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    LESLIE: Mark in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    MARK: Well, I am going to be putting down an engineered hardwood floor.

    TOM: OK.

    MARK: And I’ve got the manufacturer’s instructions and I’m going to tell you, the tolerances for the floor are really tight. They want the floor – so the plywood subfloor, off-grade house – they want the floor to be no more than 3/16-of-an-inch over 10 feet or an 1/8-of-an-inch over 6 feet deflection.

    TOM: I haven’t seen a house yet that has that little deflection, right?

    MARK: I know. Exactly. Yes.

    Anyway, my question is – I’ve taken a 10-foot 2×8 and confirmed it was straight and put it on the floor.

    TOM: OK.

    MARK: And I’ve got a Sharpie and I’m kind of marking off what is within tolerance. And there are some sections that are and ones not in tolerance. So my question to you is: how do you meet that specification that they call out for? For instance, some of the load-bearing walls, you can see where the subfloor has actually dipped down from the weight of the home. The house is about 23 years old. And I’m just wondering, how do you meet that? It’s extremely tight.

    TOM: How close are you, Mark?

    MARK: It depends. Some of the areas, we’re talking probably half – maybe a ½-inch in some of the bad places.

    TOM: OK. So what you want to do in those areas is you’re going to fill in with a floor-leveling compound. You don’t have to do the entire floor but if you have the areas that are really down, you can fill those in.

    The thing here is you want it to be reasonably flat. And the reason it wants to be reasonably flat is because with engineered hardwood floor, the panels lock together. You know, I’ve got an 1886 house and I put in a laminate floor when it sort of first came on the market. And this is similar to the engineered hardwood floor except that when laminate floor first came on, you had to glue it together; it didn’t lock together.

    And so I was able to glue this together. It actually worked in my favor because by gluing it together, it had a lot more ability to stretch and bend and twist over my very roly-poly floors. But if you’re just going to rely on the joint of the hardwood floor to lock together, then you can’t really stress it that much. If you try to twist it, it could crack or pop up.

    MARK: I see.

    TOM: And so, what I would do is I would get floor-leveling compound. DAP makes one that works very well. It’s called Flexible Floor Patch and Leveler.

    MARK: OK.

    TOM: And so, if you go to the DAP website at DAP.com – D-A-P.com – just search for the flexible floor patch. You’ll see a picture of it there; you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. And then you can order that from, I’m sure, your home center or your hardware store or find it online. And that’s designed specifically to work on wood floors or under wood floors and level them out.

    LESLIE: On subfloors, especially.

    MARK: OK. Well, great. Thank you very much. I really enjoy your show and look forward to maybe meeting the two of you one day.

    LESLIE: Oh, thanks.

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