The New NWFA Installation Guidelines: A Most Valuable Resource

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) published a new edition of the NWFA Wood Flooring Installation Guidelines. The new publication represents the most comprehensive revision of the Installation Guidelines since they were first published in 1988.


Topics include evaluating job site conditions, subfl oor preparation, proper installation techniques, guidelines for moisture testing, fastener schedules, radiant heat installations, and much more.


• Content has tripled in size, providing more in-depth information on topics including job site conditions, acclimation/conditioning, moisture testing, basements/crawlspaces, substrates, underlayments, layout, installation methods, maintenance, and repair.
• Architectural CAD drawings have been added to help you specify and clarify descriptions.
• Photographs have been added to provide visualizations and to make these guidelines multilingual.
• Updated and improved artwork and illustrations.
• Responsible parties have been clearly defi ned, and include obligations for each.

We spoke with Brett Miller, Vice President of Technical Standards, Training, and Certification for the NWFA, about the history of the guidelines and what to expect with the updates.

Can you share some perspective on the history and importance of the guidelines?

Brett Miller: The new Installation Guidelines are exciting for our industry, our members, and the NWFA. The guidelines are one of the NWFA’s most valuable resources. They have been around for nearly forty years, and have become recognized as the standard for the wood flooring industry.

The first copywritten version of the guidelines was written in 1988. A decade later, in 1998, the Installation Guidelines
were re-released in a binder format. Th at release had a lot of updates done to it at that time. The binder format was done so that when we had updates, we could send out an individual page if necessary.  

In 2007, 2012, and again in 2016, other revisions were made. However, the single most significant overhaul since its inception is what we have just completed. Rather than another revision, we rewrote the entire thing and did so in a format that matches our other publications. It was a massive undertaking.  

One of our objectives was to remove the appendices from the guidelines, and instead go into great detail, chapter by chapter, on each different method involved in the installation process of a wood floor.

One of the updates is an “Involved Parties” section. Can you talk about that?

In the 2012 Installation Guidelines, we added a small section that defined all of the parties that were involved in the wood flooring process. With this update we felt it was critical to elaborate on this section. To me, this is one of the most essential parts of the new Installation Guidelines. It’s a section on page 26 that provides typical definitions and responsibilities of each party involved in the supply chain, including manufacturers, specifiers, suppliers, sellers, buyers, builders, installers, and end-users.

What are some of the other areas that have seen a large overhaul?

Miller: We dive deep into job site conditions, including exterior climate conditions and the thermal envelope of the building where the flooring is being installed. We wanted to give readers a simple way of understanding what job site requirements are.

We simplified information on acclimation and conditioning, but we also expanded on the topic by elaborating on acclimating solid versus engineered wood, as well as parquet, end-grain, and reclaimed wood flooring.

We also have a section on moisture testing that was created through collaboration with many of our meter manufacturers. We have guidelines that focus on basements and crawlspaces, where we refer to residential building codes and the different types of crawlspaces that exist.

Can you talk about the subfloor sections that are included?

Miller: In the new Installation Guidelines, we have separated out chapters on substrates. We now have chapters on wood subfloors, concrete subfloors, wood subfloors over concrete, screeds and sleepers, radiant heat, and existing floors. In addition to those chapters, readers will find chapters on moisture and acoustical underlayments. Each one of these chapters goes into tremendous depth and was made possible by us working with people outside of our industry, who are true experts on the topics.   

Have there been updates done in regard to installation, specifically?

Miller: The first 115 pages are focused on preparation prior to installation. Those sections help professionals understand definitions, proper preparation, and what the substrate and the facility all require prior to ever considering us sticking a piece of wood in a bed of adhesive, or nailing it down to that subfloor.

From page 116 on, we focus on the installation process. We get into the layout. We highlight installation methods, where we have elaborated quite extensively on things like the naildown process. In our prior guidelines, we were fairly vague on glue-assisted installation methods. Today, we have a whole section addressing common glue-assisted installation methods. We also have detailed sections on glue-down installation, floating floor installation, parquet installation, and end-grain.

Finally, we get into protection, care, maintenance, repairs, replacement, and removal. We made sure to include everything we could to assist professionals with knowing how to maintain products that are being put in, and how to sell that to the end-user. In terms of repair and replacement, we get into lacing in and lacing out, board replacements of glue down, nail down, and floating floors. Th ere’s a lot of stuff that’s in the Installation Guidelines that we’ve all assumed for many years, but it just has not been in writing up until now. It’s rewarding to be able to do that and to share these new guidelines with our membership and our industry as a whole.


NWFA members should have recently received a physical copy of the Installation Guidelines and the new Regional Climate Variations in their mailbox. Members may also download PDF copies of the publications for free at

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