8 More Essential Tools for Hardwood Flooring Installation
Last year, Wagner Meters wrote about 24 tools professional installers find essential on a hardwood floor job site. Now, we’re bringing you eight more essential tools that will help make any job easier and more efficient.
1. Flooring Buffer
Floor buffers are used for removing sealants on subfloors. Sealant removal is especially important when gluing floors directly to concrete because some sealants may react negatively with new adhesives, causing a bonding problem.
Buffers also are useful when gluing over waxed Terrazzo surfaces since this waxy residue must be removed. In addition, when concrete contains a significant amount of paint overspray, flooring buffers work more quickly than hand-scraping the area.
A thermo-hygrometer allows installers to check and monitor the temperature and relative humidity (RH) of the job site where the flooring is to be installed. Temperature and RH of the facility directly affect the moisture content of the wood flooring. Knowing and maintaining correct ambient conditions is critical in wood flooring installation, and can help avoid costly callbacks.
To ensure conditions are being properly maintained for the wood, Wagner Meters offers installers the TH-200 Thermo-Hygrometer. This pen-style digital device displays temperature (both Fahrenheit and Celsius), RH, and dew point temperature. Easily carried in a shirt pocket and with 3-button controls, the TH-200 is simple to operate.
3. Concrete Grinder
While not often used, a concrete grinder is great when facing a slab that may be out of tolerance for a successful installation. One of the leading causes of problems with direct glue-down to concrete is a failure to address subfloors that are not flat and need correction.
Considering that dry grinding can be a messy job unless a vacuum attachment is used, installers may want to use a large commercial grinder when the slab is excessively out of level. It can get the work accomplished much quicker than a small hand-held grinder.
Larger grinders are also useful for removing tile thin set or if there’s an excessive amount of adhesive on the subfloor from a previous installation. The smaller grinding tools come in handy for removing paint overspray that can create bonding problems when glue-down floors and adhesives are used.
4. Manual Floor Scraper
Manual floor scrapers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are used mostly for concrete subfloors before the installation.
Short lightweight scrapers are short-handled scrapers that are useful for scraping old adhesives out of the spaces in between boards of a repair area. They’re great for accuracy and control. They’re also used to remove paint overspray, drywall mud, old adhesives and other lightweight contaminants from the sub-floor when doing prep work.
5. Razor Knife
This tool (also called a utility knife) is useful for opening packaging, trimming wood materials, cutting the layer between a subfloor and a finished floor to improve leveling and adhesion (the underlayment material), marking cut lines, and more. Razor knives may use fixed, folding, retractable or replaceable blades, and come in a wide variety of lengths and styles.
6. Wood H2O App
This handy and FREE mobile app from Wagner Meters allows installers to calculate equilibrium moisture content (EMC), view helpful resources, and troubleshoot common wood moisture problems including buckling, flooring gaps, crowning, and more.
The EMC calculator is simple and easy to use with no on-screen tables or calculations to interfere with the information you need. Instead, installers are able to make quick and simple calculations of necessary temperature and relative humidity for EMC. (EMC is the level where wood neither takes on nor loses moisture when exposed to air – so it’s very important to know before installation.)
The Wagner Wood H2O app also provides links to Specific Gravity settings, manuals, and other wood moisture-related resources for a one-stop mobile tool. Download it for free here.
Wood Flooring Installation Tools
7. Block Plane
A block plane is used to detail individual boards during the installation process. It can be pushed with one hand and is designed for trimming and smoothing, and for cutting across the ends of boards.
Block planes come in two varieties: standard, with a blade, pitched at 20 degrees, and low-angle, with a 12-degree pitch. The lower angle makes it easier to push and improves its ability to cut across the ends of boards.
8. Flooring Jack
This tool is designed to pull or push tongue and groove flooring strips (that are crooked) into place and hold them tightly for hands-free nailing. They will work on almost any thickness flooring without damaging the flooring surface. They can be used next to the wall, at or between stud locations, or away from the wall when it’s not possible to squeeze those last boards together with a mallet.
Flooring jacks offer several advantages: they speed up installation, eliminate using pry bars or crowbars, provide needed leverage in tight spots, and help build a better floor.
Knowledge is yet another important tool you can bring with you to the job site.
To help you gain knowledge about the latest in flooring news and the best flooring moisture management strategies available today, Wagner Meters invites you to sign up for its FREE Wood Flooring Newsletter. When you sign up, Wagner will also send you its FREE moisture guide for wood floor installations – A Comprehensive Guide to Moisture Testing.
Larry Loffer is a senior technician at Wagner Meters, where he has over 30 years of experience in wood moisture measurement. With a degree in Computer Systems, Larry is involved in both hardware and software development of wood moisture measurement solutions.