How to Install Hardwood Floors

If you’re looking for a way to add beauty and value to your home, adding hardwood floors is a great choice. Hardwood floors are durable and add a timeless look to any room. If you’re working on a budget, you may think hardwood flooring is out of your reach. However, if you install it yourself, hardwood flooring can be found for nearly any budget.

First, you need to know what type of subfloor you have. The subfloor is the base on which your flooring is installed, and is typically wood or a concrete slab. Either type of subfloor will need to be prepared for the hardwood flooring installation, and preparation varies for each type. Concrete subfloors must be cleaned thoroughly to remove any paint or other substances, and the moisture level should be checked. You can check the moisture level by placing sheet plastic pieces on the concrete in various areas, taping the edges down. Check for condensation in 24 hours. Wood subfloors should have flat, even seams between pieces. Both types of subfloor must be level, with no more than 3/8″ of slope for every 10 feet. Concrete subfloors can be sanded or patched to come into line with this specification. Wood subfloors may need to be sanded or completely replaced to come into line.

After your subfloor is prepared, you’re ready to install the hardwood flooring. There are a few different types of hardwood flooring, but the 3/4″ nail-down hardwood is very common. You will need a pneumatic nailer with 2 inch staples or nails, a mallet, your hardwood flooring, and underlayment such as rosin paper or felt paper. A floor jack tool should also be purchased or rented for ease of installation.

You should begin installing the floor in one of the longer walls of the room. Beginning along this wall, roll out your underlayment parallel to this wall, stapling it to the subfloor to keep it stationary. Repeat this process until the entire floor is covered in underlayment.

Going back to your starting wall, you can install the first row of flooring. Nail-down hardwood flooring has a tongue-and-groove installation system. You will install the first row of boards with the tongue closest to the starting wall. You should leave a 3/4 inch gap between the tongue and the wall to allow the wood floor to expand with temperature changes. Nail into the groove area of the floor boards at a 45 degree angle, placing nails 6-8 inches apart. You can also nail through the top of the boards close to the tongue, but only if your chosen floor molding will cover the nail heads.

For the second and subsequent rows, fit the tongue of the new board into the groove of the board in the previously installed row. Use the mallet to tap the new boards snugly into place, and staple or nail through the groove. You should cut your flooring boards so that the seams are staggered from row to row. When you reach the final rows of flooring where you cannot use the mallet to tap the boards together anymore, use the floor jack tool to set the boards in place. As with the beginning row, you will need to top nail the last row into place.

Finish your hardwood flooring job by nailing all your moldings in place around the perimeter of the room and across any thresholds in the room. With just a bit of planning and hard work, you now will have a beautiful hardwood floor that you can be all the more proud of because you did it yourself.


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