No heat in home where wood floor is being installed

Q: I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me and give a little guidance. I’m a tile installer 95% and on occasion I install some hardwood or laminate. I am heading out to Montana in late April to do all the tile and hardwood in a friends new cabin.

There isn’t going to be any heat or electric at the cabin while I’m installing besides a generator to run tools and a fireplace that I will use intermittently for heat. I’m concerned about temperature and moisture changes without the cabin being more finished. I’ll be installing refinished hardwood, he hasn’t picked a species yet. I’m guessing 3/4″.

Any advice? Should I have him hold out on the hardwood until the place is temperature controlled? He will only be maintaining a 50F temp in the cabin when he isn’t there.

A: Given the setting, I think you can only have so much control over the temperature. My bigger concern would be moisture. If this is a new building, it now has a roof and is all closed in but at some point, everything was fully exposed and got wet. You are going to need a moisture meter to check the levels in the hardwood and the subfloor you will be installing on. There should not be more than a 4% difference. If the subfloor is say 7% or higher than the hardwood, you need to wait for it to dry out. I’d probably be checking the structure too if this is a new building to see how high those readings are. And you will be injecting more moisture into the environment when you do the tile work. Wood floors should be one of the last things done, definitely, after all the wet trades have been completed.

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