Hardwood floors have been a popular flooring choice for centuries. They lend homes a sense of permanence and sophistication and eliminate many of the problems with staining and allergens that carpeting is known to cause. Best of all, solid hardwood floors can have a tremendous impact on overall property values. Before you get started, however, you should know that there are a number of common mistakes that people make when tackling this project.

Following are four tips from us, which you must read before installing hardwood flooring

Make sure to check moisture levels before getting started.

Too much or too little moisture are among some of the most common causes of hardwood flooring issues. This is true even if you’re careful to have your materials shipped from a climate-controlled warehouse. From project start to project finish, it’s best to keep your wood at a moderate moisture content (MC) so that it’s never subjected to any moisture extremes. This will prevent future expansion and contraction from either crushing the edges of your boards or creating large, visible gaps between each plank.

Prep your sub-floors before getting started.

If you have experience in installing hardwood flooring, this tip might seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, however, it still happens to be one of the most commonly overlooked parts of the installation process. Before getting started, you have to make sure that this surface is dry, clean, and level. It should have a moderate MC and be swept free and clear of any and all debris. If there is anything sticking to the sub-floor that will compromise adhesion, this should be scraped, buffed, or sanded away. Uneven, wooden sub-floors can be leveled with layers of plywood or asphalt shingles and uneven concrete slabs can be leveled by sanding or applying a suitable leveling compound.

Consider the look of the overall layout.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to installing a seamless and perfectly laid out hardwood floor. Avoid creating areas that are all light or all dark, aside from one, a stray board that sticks out like a sore thumb. Make sure that the grain is always going in the right direction and that you have a seamless strategy for racking and laying the boards out in an attractive pattern.

Start the installation process from the middle of the room.

Expansion in hardwood flooring starts at the tongue of each board. If you install your floors starting from the wall, the expansion will invariably lead to an uneven and unattractive surface. Hardwood flooring installs should always start from the middle of the room, so that expansion and the resulting effects are uniform and do not detract from overall floor aesthetics.