How to Install Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Floors


To help you with your installation project, I asked the Tech & Install team to provide me with instructions for installing your new Bellawood prefinished floor if you choose to tackle the project yourself.

For a print out version and approved installation methods, please download the attachment that is part of this post. 

Bellawood® solid prefinished domestic and exotic products are installed using standard hardwood floor staplers or cleat nailers. While Professional installers have preferences, both types work well. Installers also understand how species variations will affect workability. Some species tend to be very hard, others somewhat brittle during nailing. These natural characteristic are not considered defects. To prevent board damage, nailing methods such as hand nailing may be required when installing the harder species like Rose wood, Walnut or Teaks. See our nailing recommendations.
The Bellawood® solid lower profile flooring sizes (1/2″?- 5/16″?) is installed using specially designed pneumatic hardwood floor staplers or cleat nailers. Ensure that you are using the correct sized fasteners and adaptors. These sizes can also be glued to plywood or with an approved moisture barrier can be glued on concrete. DO NOT nail or glue solid products below-grade.
Bellawood® can also be installed over in-floor radiant heat, however not all species are recommended for this application. Choose species with higher stability ratings and always use moisture barriers, details are outlined in this document. Installations outside these guidelines are viewed as experimental.

OWNER/INSTALLER RESPONSIBILITIES – Install flooring in proper lighting
Exotic and domestic hardwoods are beautiful and unique products of nature characterized by distinctive variations in grain pattern and color. These natural variations are not flaws; rather they make up the natural beauty and uniqueness of hardwood flooring and should be expected. Only topically stained products will have the most uniformity in color or shade. Our floors are manufactured in accordance with accepted industry standards which permit a defect tolerance not to exceed 5%, of a manufacturing or natural type. When flooring is ordered, depending on layout or species, 8 – 12% extra material should be added to the actual square footage needed for board selection and cutting. Diagonal layouts or custom installations usually require about 15% more. During installation any boards deemed unacceptable should be replaced using the extra material ordered. The use of putty, stains, filler sticks or touch up markers to correct defects in prefinished wood during installation is accepted as a normal procedure. Board width variances are considered normal for boards and all organic materials. To minimize board edge gapping, board widths greater than 1/16″? should be selected out and used all together in the same row or placed in closets or near walls. The customer/installer assumes responsibility for final inspection of product quality. Carefully examine the flooring for color, finish and quality before installing. Use reasonable selectivity and judgment, select out or cut off pieces with glaring defects. If more than 5% of the material is unusable contact your local store or call CUSTOMER CARE 800-366-4204 immediately. Before beginning the installation the installer must determine if job site and subfloor conditions are acceptable. Installers must be up-to-date with installation procedures.

Lumber Liquidators denies any responsibility for problems arising from job site failures, environmental or moisture issues, inappropriate or improperly prepared subfloors, poor installations and improper tool usage.

For best performance, wood flooring should be one of the last items installed. Heating and air conditioning systems should be fully operating and running at least 7 days before the installation. To prevent moisture related issues such as board edge cupping, all wet work involving water or moisture (plumbing, plaster /drywall ceilings or wall finishes, painting, etc.) should be finished with ample time allowed for complete drying prior to wood floor installation. New concrete should be cured and at least 60 to 90 days old.

Wood products are affected by environmental conditions. Before installation, acclimate the new flooring in the areas to be installed 10-14 days for most dense exotic species or 2 – 7 days for domestic (North American) species to consistent indoor temperatures of 60°-80° F and constant indoor humidity levels of 35% – 55%. Very dry or humid regions may require extended conditioning. Proper acclimation levels maintained after installation will minimize board movement, excessive squeaks and gaps. Proper acclimation is the responsibility of purchaser/installer.

To prevent board warping or bowing; do not cut the packaging plastic support bindings until ready to install. Do not stand flooring on ends or sides. Do not store directly on bare concrete or next to outside walls. Cartons should be placed as close to the center of the installation area as possible. Store flat, supporting the ends and center sections. Store in a dry place being sure to provide air flow under and around cartons. Keep out of direct sunlight and away from air vents.


To prevent moisture build-up homes with crawl spaces must have vents for proper cross-ventilation. Provide year-round air circulation with multiple vents. Venting allows damp areas to dry-out. Vents must be adequately spaced so that no dead air spaces remain. Under the home in the crawlspace use black 6-mil polyethylene sheet plastic as a moisture barrier. Completely cover 100% of the surface of the ground to guard against excessive moisture. Overlap plastic seams 6″? and duct tape.

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Delay installation until the above guidelines are completed.

[CAUTION] Lumber Liquidators recommends the use of moisture barriers. Most installation failures result from a moisture imbalance. All subfloors must be tested for moisture content. Know your moisture levels and document the readings. Do not deliver flooring to the jobsite until moisture problems are corrected.

Wood subfloors: Determine if conditions are dry before installing. Wood subfloor moisture reading must not exceed 12%; the ideal moisture content within new wood flooring is 6%-9%. The differential balance between new boards and subfloor must not exceed 4% or 2% for board widths over 2 1/4″?. If moisture readings are too high, postpone the installation, find the moisture source and correct. Raise heat and increase ventilation, holding off installation until proper conditions are met. Do not use pressure treated plywood for interior use as these can have high moisture content and latent with rot resistant chemicals.

Concrete subfloor: Prior to installation, concrete should preferably be 60 to 90 days old, the moisture content of concrete must be measured. Moisture testing establishes the presence of moisture at the time of measurement. Of greater concern is future moisture transferring up through the slab to the surface, therefore, the use of a moisture barrier is necessary.

Calcium chloride test is the only quantitative test available at this time and must be performed to determine the extent of moisture passing through the slab. The emission of moisture through the slab must not exceed 3 lbs per 1,000 sq ft, in 24 hours. Calcium chloride test kits are available at most flooring supply distributors.

Phenolphthalein tests may also be performed by using a 3% phenolphthalein solution in water-free alcohol. Drill dime-sized holes, ¼" deep, in various areas of the concrete slab, particularly around the walls. Then apply two drops of the solution into each of the drilled holes. If there is no color change in the solution, then there is not enough moisture to affect the installation. If the solution turns pink or dark red within five minutes, further testing must be done with a moisture Encounter meter or calcium chloride test kit.

A simple “condensation test“? may be performed by taping 18"x18" polyethylene sheets in several locations on the concrete slab. Lamps are then placed close enough to warm these areas and allowed to remain in place for 48 hours. Moisture under the plastic sheets or darkening of the concrete surface under the sheets is an indication of moisture in the concrete.

Alkalinity test recommended for gluedowns. Alkali can be visible as a white powder on the surface of the concrete. Alkali is excess salt contained within the concrete that can cause adhesive failure over time. This problem is magnified if moisture is present and passing through the concrete depositing excess salt on the concrete surface. A simple pH test will determine the presence of alkali on a slab surface; Apply a few drops of distilled water to a small thoroughly clean and scraped concrete surface area and place a strip of pH paper to the wetted area. The paper will change color within 5 minutes. Compare the color change to the chart standard supplied with the paper to indicate the pH of degree of alkalinity. A pH range from 5 to 10 is acceptable. Corrective measures must be taken with any concrete slab that measures a pH reading above 10. Contact adhesive manufacturer for corrective instructions.

Wood floor owner and installer are solely and jointly responsible for site conditions, pre-installation moisture checking of new floor and subfloor and must ensure that all conditions and specifications listed in this guide have been thoroughly met prior to installation.

Do not install flooring directly over joist without subflooring.
All structural panels/underlayment must be installed sealed-side down, and provide ¾”? perimeter spacing. Square-edged or non tongue and grooved panels used as a subfloor will require a minimum 1/8



  1. Hi Ravi, here are our recommendations: For a 3/4" Bellawood DOMESTIC floor: 15.5 gauge staples OR 16 gauge cleats For a 3/4" Bellawood EXOTIC floor: 18 gauge cleats Thanks for writing in! – Lumber Liquidators

  2. Hey Rems, please contact our Tech & Installation pros at 800-366-4204 for assistance. Thank you for your inquiry! – Lumber Liquidators

  3. I need a professional opinion on a Bellawood engineered hardwood floor that was installed a few months ago. The installer tried to repair a few bad gaps from the original install (very bad install job). In the center of the floor, they removed a board and reinstalled it with a "cut" piece which is now splintered on the end. I can see this piece getting worse quickly. Wouldn’t the right way to fix a center piece be to remove that row from the wall to the center and replace the row since the edges of the wood are slightly beveled? It was nailed down, but I’m sure there is an adhesive that could be used for that row and a final nail next to the wall. I need some feedback ASAP as the contractor wants to leave it as is. Thanks.

  4. I’m not sure what your question is, but if you contact our Tech & Install department at 800-366-4204, someone can assist you. Thanks! -Lumber Liquidators

  5. Lumber Liquidators on

    Any non-marring foot will work provided it has correct fitment for the tool and profile of the floor.

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