The Anatomy Of A Hardwood Floor

by on 03/25/2015 - 01:43 pm

Categories: Building & Remodeling, Kitchen & Bath

By Monica Guhde

Owner, Guhde Flooring America

We all love the look of a gleaming hardwood floor, but what we cannot see underneath it is just as important. If you are planning to install hardwood flooring in your home, you need to understand the anatomy of a floor before you start the installation.


To prevent squeaky floors, you need to make sure the joists are properly installed. Joists are cross beams that frame the floor, either sitting atop the foundation of the house or holding up the upstairs floors. They provide the structural support of a floor so it will be stable and secure. Ideally, you want the joists to run perpendicular to the flooring. If the flooring must run parallel for the desired visual orientation, it is recommend to add blocking and install a thicker subfloor for extra support.


Providing a stiffer base for the floor, a plywood or OSB wood particleboard is placed on top of the joists. Typically a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch plywood is recommended for the best support, depending on joist spacing and materials used. A properly installed subfloor will minimize moisture absorption and keep the floor level and well insulated.


Often made of foam, felt or cork, underlayment is not to be confused with a structural subfloor material. It is placed over the subfloor as a cushion to soften the tread when walked upon, helps deaden sound, and acts as a vapor retarder. When installing laminate or engineered wood flooring that floats (not attached to the subfloor), an underlayment is required.

Floor covering

Whether you install hardwood floors, or opt for laminate, vinyl, tile or carpet, the top layer is what you will see and walk on. Within each category, there are many options depending on your style preferences and lifestyle needs.

Guhde Flooring America is located at 1880 Mentor Avenue in Painesville, Ohio. For more information, visit or call 440-607-5064.