Installation

Fluent Floors is proud to deliver superior quality, Engineered, Solid, Laminate and Vinyl flooring at competitive prices. We are constantly working to ensure that our flooring products meet the highest industry standards, from the raw materials to the finished product. Fluent Floors is sourced from a network of carefully selected manufacturers and sold through our exclusive dealer group to provide you with the ultimate in service and technical installation support.

Fluent Floors could not maintain the high standard of Fluent products if they were sold over the internet. Therefore, the purchase of Fluent Floors via the internet would automatically void the manufacturer's warranty.

NOTE: Fluent Floors EH102, EH104, EC01, EC02, EC03, EC04, EB04, EB05, EW01, EW02, EW03, EW04, EW05, EW06, EW07, EW08, EW09 and EW10 need to be glued down when installed.


Fluent Floors Installation Instructions - Prefinished Solid & Engineered Wood


Acceptance of Flooring

Since wood is a natural product, there will be variations in grain, color and texture. These variations are not to be considered flaws, but a natural characteristic of wood. Inherent in a natural product, there may be imperfections that occur in nature or reveal themselves during the manufacturing process. The accepted standard in the industry allows a defect tolerance and grading variance not to exceed 5%, which may be of manufacturing or natural type.

Prior to installation, all floor boards should be inspected. Regardless of if it is a natural or manufacturing defect, boards that have an unacceptable grade, color, finish, texture or grain pattern should not be installed, and should immediately be reported to the seller. The acceptance of the flooring remains the sole and joint responsibility of the installer and end-user. Once the flooring is installed, it has been deemed acceptable by the installer and the end-user. To achieve a uniform appearance across the entire floor, it is critical to blend several cartons of the flooring during installation. Additionally, extra flooring should be retained due to future repairs.

It is the responsibility of the installer/end-user to determine if the jobsite subfloor and jobsite conditions are environmentally and structurally acceptable for wood flooring installation (see Minimum Jobsite Requirements). Fluent Floors declines any responsibility for wood floor failure resulting from or connected with sub floor, subsurface, jobsite damage or deficiencies after hardwood flooring has been installed.

In addition to the 5% manufacturing defect tolerance, the customer shall order 5%- 7% in addition to the actual square footage needed as allowance for cut-off or waste. For patterned, ornamental or floors with a specific saw grade the cut-off or waste can be higher.

Fluent Floors’ liability shall be solely limited to the replacement of defective products, i.e. materials only in excess of the 5% industry accepted norm, excluding trimming waste allowance. In any case, Fluent Floors shall not be liable for installer’s lack of judgement, quality of installation, labor, installation costs or any other consequential losses.

Installation guidelines are intended to offer general guidance as it relates to Fluent Floors pre-finished solid or engineered flooring and are NOT a replacement for a professional, certified installer. Fluent Floors wood floors MUST be installed according to the National Wood Flooring Association’s (NWFA) installation guidelines in order for Fluent Floors’ warranty to be valid. The most current publication of the NWFA guidelines are available to all members and a list of local NWFA Certified Professional Installers can be located at www.nwfa.org.

Minimum Jobsite Requirements

  1. Do not deliver wood flooring to the jobsite or install wood flooring until the building is fully enclosed, heating and air conditioning is in operating condition, and until appropriate required temperature and humidity conditions have been achieved. Appropriate temperature and humidity conditions are defined as those conditions to be experienced in the building after occupancy or those required by wood manufacturer.
  2. Wood flooring should be one of the last jobs completed on the construction project. All wet trades including concrete, masonry, plastering, drywall, tile, texturing and painting etc. should be complete. Appropriate required temperature and relative humidity conditions should stabilize before wood flooring is brought in. Limit foot traffic on finished wood flooring.
  3. Evaluate the jobsite for potential problems before installation begins and before wood flooring is delivered to the jobsite.

    A. Exterior surface drainage should direct water away from the building.

    B. Basements and crawl spaces must be dry. If power washing is required in the basement, do so before wood flooring is installed and allow subfloor and basement to dry before installing wood flooring.

    C. Crawl space should be a minimum of 18” (457mm) from ground to underside of joists. Crawl space earth (or thin concrete slab) should be covered 100 percent by a vapor barrier of black polyethylene (minimum 6 mil) or any recommended puncture-resistant membrane, such as Class C, meeting ASTM D1745. Check local codes. See NWFA Installation Guidelines for additional crawl space conditions and follow the local building codes.  

  4. Note the grade level so that the correct type of flooring and system can be specified for the job. Engineered and floating floors can be appropriate for above-grade, on-grade and below-grade installations. Solid wood flooring can be appropriate for above-grade and on grade installations, but not for below grade installations. If the soil surrounding a structure is three inches or more above the floor of any level, consider that level below grade. This includes walk-out basements.
  5. Subfloors (wood or concrete) should be checked by an appropriate method for establishing moisture content. See below for moisture content requirements.
  6. After installation, if you choose to protectively cover the floor, cover the floor completely, since some species/ finishes are light-sensitive and uncovered areas may change color. However, covering a glue-down application may not allow some adhesives to properly cure. Follow the flooring and adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. Use a covering material with a vapor permeance (perm rating) of 1 perm or more (tested in accordance with ASTM E96) to avoid trapping moisture/vapor on or within the floor. Any covering should be taped, using a low adhesion tape, to base or shoe moldings (test adherence and verify it will not damage finishes on these surfaces as well). For floor protection use only a brown “kraft” type paper or Ram-board product that will allow the flooring to “breathe”. Do not use cardboard as it can leave marks in the finish. Do not tape to finished flooring. When taping paper or sheets together, tape them to each other, not to the floor

As in all installations, at completion of job, inspect flooring from a standing position.

Acclimation/Conditioning

  1. Ensure that the building is enclosed.
  2. Verify that the building is maintained at the required conditions for temperature and humidity.
  3. Heating and/or air conditioning systems should be operating at least five days preceding installation to promote proper acclimation and should be maintained during and after installation.
  4. Prior to installation, ensure that wood flooring is within acceptable range of moisture content with the wood subfloor. Moisture content of subflooring should not exceed 12%. For plank solid or engineered flooring (3” or wider), there should be no more than 2 percent difference in moisture content between properly acclimated/conditioned wood flooring and subflooring materials. Moisture content readings should be performed and logged. Forty readings per 1000 square feet, taken from various bundles/ boards throughout.

Rule for acclimation/conditioning:

Solid Pre-finished Flooring- Acclimate/condition the flooring to the environment. Engineered Flooring- Condition the environment to the wood flooring.

  • For solid and solid pre-finished wood - Acclimation can be facilitated by breaking the floor units into small lots and/or opening the packaging. A common practice is to cross‐stack the materials with spacers made of a synthetic material such as plastic builder shims. Do not use wood, due to tannin bleed (¾” to 1” sticks) between each layer of flooring to allow air circulation on all sides of all boards.
  • For engineered wood – Ensure that the temperature and relative humidity of the structure where flooring is to be put into use is within the range tolerance stated by the manufacturer. Check moisture content of flooring and subfloor at time of delivery. No more than 2% variance in moisture content should exist. Packaging should be opened on each end (if applicable) and allowed to condition for a minimum of 72 hours. For wider widths or thicker wear layers, more conditioning time may be necessary but care should be taken that the boards do not begin to swell or shrink and distort due to higher or lower relative humidity. Careful monitoring of moisture content, appearance of flooring and environment should be performed diligently.
  • Acclimate/condition flooring for a minimum of seven days for solid products, and three days for engineered. There is no given maximum in stated time for proper acclimation. While it takes time to acclimate a product, the most important aspect is that the materials reach a moisture content that is in equilibrium with its expected use. When wood is neither gaining nor losing moisture, equilibrium moisture content (EMC) has been reached. Acclimate/ condition the materials as long as necessary to accomplish this task, taking the necessary moisture readings to indicate when the materials have reached the proper moisture content and when no further changes occur. See NWFA Installation Instructions for additional information for acclimating wood flooring. Follow the moisture meter manufacturer’s instructions for proper moisture content readings.
  • Supplemental heating/cooling and humidification and/or dehumidification will be required at different times of the year, in nearly every climate in North America. This is especially important for the Mountain West region which is considered a high-altitude, dry climate. There are additional requirements for radiant heat installations.
  • Fluent pre-finished solid flooring and engineered flooring products require temperature to be maintained between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 35- 55% relative humidity. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in irreversible structural damage to the flooring and void related warranties. Note: Not properly acclimating wood flooring may cause excessive expansion, shrinkage, dimensional distortion or structural damage. The worst‐case scenario is one in which wood flooring is stored at the jobsite in an uncontrolled environment, then immediately installed. This is especially true when the materials are stored in an area that is subject to excessive moisture and humidity conditions. Acclimation outside of the area in which the wood is to be installed does no good at all; in fact, it is likely harmful to store wood flooring at the jobsite under conditions that don’t reflect expected normal or required environmental conditions.

Wood Subfloor Specifications

  1. Typically both ¾” CD Exposure 1 plywood and OSB Exposure 1 subfloor panels are appropriate subflooring materials, but the proper thickness of the material will be determined by the factors noted in the NWFA Installation Guide.
  2. Wood subfloors must be flat, clean, dry, structurally sound, free of squeaks and free of protruding fasteners. See NWFA Installation Guidelines for additional tolerances and requirements

    A. Flatness: For nail down installation (1½” or longer fastener) the subfloor should be flat to within ¼” in 10 feet or 3/16” in 6 feet radius. For glue-down installations and installations using mechanical fasteners of less than 1½”, the subfloor should be flat to within 3/16” in 10 feet or 1/8” in 6 feet radius. If peaks or valleys in the subfloor exceed the tolerances specified above, sand down the high spots and fill the low spots with a levelling compound or other material approved for use under wood flooring.

    B. Clean: Ensure all dust, debris and residue (including concrete contaminates that may affect adhesive bond) are properly cleaned and removed from the subfloor.

    C. Dry: Ensure that the moisture content does not exceed 12%.

    D. Structurally Sound: Inspect the subfloor carefully. If there is movement or squeaks in the subfloor, refasten the subfloor to the joists in problem areas.

    E. Protruding fasteners are easily remedied by driving those fasteners deeper into the subfloor.

Moisture Testing

Wood Subfloors

Follow the meter manufacturer’s recommendations to get an accurate reading from the wood floor. Apply the necessary adjustment tables, conversion charts or settings for various species. Test for moisture at several locations in the room – a minimum of 20 per 1,000 square feet – and average the results. Document all results. A high reading in one area indicates a problem that must be corrected. Pay special attention to exterior and plumbing walls.

Concrete Subfloor

Note: All tests give a result – at the time the test is done – and in general give you the ability to start or not start a job. These tests do not give a permanent condition of your substrate, but merely a “at the time the test was performed” indication.

  1. The concrete must be a minimum of 30 days old before testing begins.
  2. Qualitative Moisture Tests: Electrical Impedance Test and Electrical Resistance Test (Moisture Meter). Follow meter manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Use moisture meters designed specifically for concrete moisture testing.
    • Test within the body of the slab (electrical resistance), as well as at the surface (electrical impedance).
    • These testing methods are not recognized by any standard and should not be used for the purpose of accepting or rejecting a floor. These electronic tests are useful survey tools to broadly evaluate the relative moisture conditions of a slab and to select locations for quantitative moisture tests.
    • If the moisture meters indicate the presence of excessive moisture, as per wood flooring or meter manufacturer’s recommendations, further (quantitative) testing is required using relative-humidity testing (ASTM F2170), calcium chloride testing (ASTM F1869) or calcium carbide (CM) testing (ASTM D4944 and MilSpec CRD-C154-77). See NWFA Installation Guidelines for additional acceptable quantitative testing methods.

Installation Guidelines

Solid Prefinished Installation Methods - Nail Down, Nail with Glue Assist

  1. Floor preparation: Refasten any loose areas of subfloor and clean the subfloor by sweeping, scraping, etc., as necessary. With frame construction, mark location of joists on perimeter walls so that starting runs and finishing runs, which require face nailing, can be nailed into joists. Marking also locates the joists for plank flooring installation.
  2. Unfinished and factory-finished solid strip and solid plank flooring should be installed perpendicular to the joists or on a diagonal for any single layer subfloor. See NWFA Installation Guidelines for exceptions.
  3. Before installing wood flooring, use an approved vapor retarder such as Forti-Fiber Aqua Bar “B”, lapped 2”- 4” along the edge seams. This retards moisture movement from below. Extend the felt/building paper completely to the walls. It is necessary to fasten the felt to the subfloor.
  4. Wall Line Layout
    • Choose a starting wall according to the most aesthetically or architecturally important elements in the room, taking into consideration fireplaces, doors, cabinets and transitions, as well as the squareness of the room. The starting wall will often be the longest unbroken wall in the room.
    • Snap a working line parallel to the starting wall, allowing ¾” expansion space between the starting wall and the edge of the first strip or plank run.
    • As a general rule, a ¾” expansion space must be left around the perimeter and at all vertical obstructions.
    • Random-width plank is laid out with alternating courses varying by widths. Start with the widest board, then the next width, etc., and repeat the pattern.
    • Lay one row of strip or plank along the entire length of the working line.
    • Top-nail and blind-nail the first row (hand-nail if necessary), using appropriate fasteners. Denser species may require pre-drilling. Each succeeding row should be blind-nailed with the nailing machine wherever possible. At the finishing wall and other obstructions, it may be necessary to blind-nail by hand until top nailing is required.
    • Racking rule of thumb: Avoid H patterns. Stagger end joints of boards row to row a minimum of 6” for strip flooring, 8”-10” for 3” to 5” planks, and for planks wider than 5”, stagger as much as possible with minimal or no H joints.
    • To minimize expansion on floors wider than 20 feet, more or less spacing between rows may be needed, depending on geographical area, interior climate control and time of the year.
    • Where spacing is required: Use a washer or removable spacer to leave additional space every few rows and/or start in center of room and work out to both sides. Do not use spacers that may cause damage on factory-finished products.
    • Nailing: Blind-nail through the tongue using 1½” to 2" fasteners. Use 1½” fasteners with ¾” plywood subfloor direct to concrete slab. Face-nail boards where needed using 6d-8d casing or finish nails. Fasteners should be spaced every 6”-8” on blind nailing, or every 10”-12” on face-nailing.
    • Blind-nail, face-nail or use wood floor adhesive, as necessary, to complete the final rows.
    • In board widths over 5”, Fluent Floors recommends using a nail down with glue assist method. Follow NWFA acceptable nailing schedule and supplement mechanical fastening with Bona R850-T. Bona R580 can be spread by trowel over the entirety of the subfloor to act as a vapor barrier. See www.Bona.com for manufacturer’s instructions. The use of subfloor or construction adhesive is not recommended.
    • See NWFA Installation Guidelines for additional layout methods.

Engineered Installation Methods - Nail Down, Nail with Glue Assist, Full Surface Glue-Down, Float

  1. Engineered wood flooring can be installed directly to screeds, provided the engineered flooring is a minimum of ¾” thick. For engineered flooring less than ¾” thick, the screed system must be overlaid with proper subflooring. (See NWFA Installation Guidelines)
  2. Fluent Floors pre-finished engineered flooring should be installed perpendicular to the joists or on a diagonal for any single layer subfloor.
  3. Random-width plank is laid out with alternating courses varying by widths. Start with the widest board, then the next width, etc., and repeat the pattern.
  4. Choose a starting wall according to the most aesthetically or architecturally important elements in the room, taking into consideration fireplaces, doors, cabinets and transitions, as well as the squareness of the room. The starting wall will often be the longest unbroken wall in the room.
  5. Glue-down pre-finished engineered plank
    • Test the substrate for moisture. Excessive/elevated moisture should not be present. The subfloor should be within acceptable moisture content before installing. If a moisture barrier sealer is needed, Fluent recommends either a full surface glue down using Bona R851 or nail down with a glue assist using Bona R-580. Bona R580 can be spread by trowel over the entirety of the subfloor to act as a vapor barrier. Follow NWFA acceptable nailing schedule and supplement mechanical fastening with Bona R850-T. Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s guidelines for application instructions.
    • Expansion space should be left around the perimeter. The expansion space should be a minimum of the thickness of the product being installed.
    • Snap a working line parallel to the starting wall, the width of the board, plus the tongue and recommended expansion space.
    • Install a starter board along the edge of the working line and begin installation. Lay one row of plank in the adhesive along the length of the working line. This will either need face nails to hold in place, or it should be weighted overnight until glue is set before continuing.
    • The tongue side of the flooring faces the direction in which you are installing.
    • Fluent recommends the use of Bona R851 for full surface glue-down applications. See www.bona.com for product details and instructions. Follow the installation procedure recommended by the adhesive manufacturer, which includes subfloor moisture content, spread rate, trowel size, open time, working time and flash time as necessary. Spread the adhesive as instructed up to and along the working line.
    • Distribute lengths, avoiding “H” patterns and other discernible patterns in adjacent runs. Stagger end joints of boards row to row a minimum of 6” for strip flooring, 8”-10” for 3” to 5” plank, and 10” for planks wider than 5”.
    • Fluent does not recommend the use of tape at any time to maintain a tight floor. Use straps or tensioners.
  6. Mechanically fastened strip and plank.
    • If necessary, add a vapor retarder.
    • Snap a working line parallel to the starting wall, allowing expansion space as specified by the manufacturer.
    • Lay one row of plank along the entire length of the working line.
    • Top-nail and blind-nail the first row (hand-nail if necessary), using appropriate fasteners. Denser species may require pre-drilling. Each succeeding row should be blind-nailed wherever possible. a. Typical: Narrow crowned (under 3/8”) 1”-1½” staples or 1”-1¼” hardwood flooring cleats designed for engineered flooring, spaced as recommended by the manufacturer. b. Typical: Every 3”-4” with staples, every 4”-6” with cleats, and within 1”-2” of end joints. Use appropriate size fastener for top nailing first row, last row and any area where blind nailer will not fit.
    • Add each additional row of flooring. Distribute lengths, avoiding “H” patterns and other discernible patterns in adjacent runs. Stagger end joints at least three times the width of the boards, as product allows.
    • During installation of flooring pieces, push or gently tap boards flush to the previous row. Tap against the tongue; tapping the groove may damage the edge. To prevent damage to the finish, avoid tapping the face of the board with a rubber mallet.
    • In board widths over 5”, Fluent recommends using a nail down with glue assist method. Follow the NWFA acceptable nailing schedule and supplement mechanical fastening with Bona R850-T. Bona R580 can be spread by trowel over the entirety of the subfloor to act as a moisture barrier sealer. See www.Bona.com for manufacturer’s instructions. The use of subfloor or construction adhesive is not recommended.
    • Please note that thinner engineered products may require additional underlayment for wider joist spacing (19” +), along with either a full surface glue down, or a glue down with nail assist method. See NWFA Installation Instructions for underlayment requirements.
  7. Floating engineered flooring.
    • Subfloor flatness is critical to the success of a floating floor installation.
    • Test the substrate for moisture. Excessive/elevated moisture should not be present. The subfloor should be within acceptable moisture content before installing.
    • If necessary, add vapor retarder.
    • Expansion space should be left around the perimeter. The expansion space should be a minimum of the thickness of the product being installed.
    • Typical: Subfloors are covered with a resilient material, foam underlayment or cork. Follow manufacturer's instructions for correct materials and thickness.
    • Typical: Floating engineered flooring is edge-glued or edge-attached with a self-locking mechanism. For edge-glued products use a glue such as Tite-Bond Tongue and Groove Flooring Glue. Do not use an expanding wood glue.
    • Starter boards should be aligned with the groove side and end against the starting wall. Tapping block should be used against tongue only.
    • Stagger end joints at least three times the width of the boards, as product allows.

  8. Chain of Custody Disclaimer

    It is the responsibility for all parties involved in the acquisition of this flooring material to pass this document along to the installer and the end-user. This includes, but is not limited to retailers, dealers, distributors, designers, architects or other specifiers.

    THIS DOCUMENT SUPERSEDES ALL PREVIOUSLY DATED INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS