How to Install a Hardwood Floor

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Expert advice on how to install hardwood floors from start to finish, including tools and materials, preparation, layout, cutting, and fastening few home improvements can transform a room with warmheartedness, beauty, and style adenine effectively as new hardwood floors.

In this article, we ’ ll usher you through the steps of installing a newly wood floor. In short, to Install a Hardwood Floor:

  1. Estimate and order the materials you need.
  2. Prepare the subfloor and fasten asphalt-laminated kraft paper flooring underlayment to it.
  3. Deliver the materials to the site and allow them to acclimate to the room’s humidity.
  4. Layout and mark the placement of flooring.
  5. Attach the first flooring row to the subfloor.
  6. Cut and fasten successive flooring strips.
  7. Rip the final row of flooring and fasten it in place.
  8. Sand and finish the floor (unfinished solid flooring only).

For information about floor sanders, see 10 Time-Saving Rental Tools for Do-It-Yourselfers. nowadays let ’ s take a closer expression .

Engineered vs. Solid Wood Flooring

As discussed in the Wood Flooring Buying Guide, the two main types of hardwood flooring—solid and engineered—differ significantly. A third base type, laminate flooring, international relations and security network ’ t actually wood—it ’ s a picture of forest glued onto a composite congress of racial equality ; this is not the type we ’ rhenium discourse hera. For more about this, see Laminate Flooring Buying Guide.

Engineered wood flooring is frequently thinner than solid wood shock. It is manufactured with a thin surface layer of hardwood and a core that ’ s more like plywood. If you intend to install the floor yourself, engineered-wood shock is normally the best count because it is pre-finished, eliminating the motivation for sanding and finishing the deck, which dramatically simplifies the subcontract. In accession, because engineered-wood flooring is made from layers of wood sandwiched and bonded together, it is more stable than solid wood and insubordinate to changes caused by extreme temperatures and humidity. Engineered floor, at best, can entirely be sanded and refinished once or twice because its finish layer is identical slender ( from 1/16″ to 3/16″ ). Engineered-wood flooring ( or early deck materials, such as tile or vinyl ) may be installed above or below grade. Solid wood flooring is a traditional front-runner. It normally is thicker than engineered shock and is distinctly cut from a single board of hardwood. Solid-wood deck has a inclination to warp, twist, elaborate, and contract with changes in moisture and temperature. On the flip side, solid shock can be sanded and refinished multiple times.

+ Find a Wood Flooring Pro Near YouGet Free Bids Now! You can install a solid-wood deck on a conventional raised plywood subfloor or on a properly prepare concrete slab ( see Installing Hardwood Floors Over Concrete ), but only if the open is above degree. It must be nobelium more than 3 inches lower than the reason degree outside because moisture, which is typically present beneath below-grade floors, can be very damaging to solid wood. HomeTips Pro Tip: Floor sandpaper is incredibly cold work, and a drum drum sander can leave visible marks and ridges on the floor. If you are not experienced at this subcontract, strongly consider installing a prefinished engineered-wood deck.
Bathrooms and kitchens are another narrative. Though moisture is present in both areas, you can protect the surface of a solid-wood floor with a sturdy, protective eat up.

For more comparisons, see solid or mastermind Wood Flooring. Before you get besides far into this project, check out this excellent video on installing a pre-finished 3/4-inch upstanding wood shock. This is a identical exhaustive search at the process of replacing a carpet floor with a nail-down wood floor, from start to finish. Hats off to April Wilkerson, who installed the floor and made the television !

Preparing for Hardwood Flooring

Because installing hardwood flooring is normally a major, expensive home improvement, it pays to ensure a choice, durable solution. The key is proper preparation. This video recording is helpful for gathering the tools and materials you ’ ll need—including estimating the sum of flooring you will need. It besides shows how to prepare a carpet, suspended wood floor.

New wood shock should be laid on a clean, smooth, level, structurally sound al-qaeda. Depending on the particular floor, this establish may be a former shock covering, an existing woodwind shock in adept circumstance, a modern plywood subfloor, or tied a moisture-proofed concrete slab. By installing forest over an existing floor, you bypass the messy job of removing the erstwhile floor, and you gain instant soundproof and insulation from the old deck. A disadvantage to leaving previous shock in place is that you must correct any irregularities in it. besides, the modern floor will raise the deck tied, making the transition to a hallway or an border room awkward .

Removing Doors and Base Molding

Whether or not you ’ rhenium install over old shock, the first step in preparing floors for hardwood is to remove doors and base shoe cast ( remove baseboards only if there is no shoe mold ). Number the cast pieces so you can well replace them when you ’ re finished. Make certain that the function and conditions of the board won ’ t have a negative shock on the flooring during initiation. besides much foot traffic on a newly floor or excessive temperature or humidity swings can diminish the quality of—and sometimes even ruin—wood shock.

Proper training techniques depend upon the type of flooring you ’ ra installation and the conditions of the base that will be beneath it .

Preparing Subfloor for Hardwood Flooring

Most wood floor goes on a typical raised, wood-framed subfloor that is surfaced with plywood or OSB ( oriented-strand display panel ) subflooring panels. The subfloor must be clean, dry, flat, structurally sound, squeak-free, and authorize of any come on bumps or fasteners. Use a long, straight circuit board and a carpenter ’ s floor to check for any dips or rises. Sand depressed bumps and fill dips with leveling compound.

Reseat any raised fasteners and screw toss off any screaky spots using 1 1/2-inch screws. To prevent ground moisture humidity from rising up into the room and negatively affecting the floor, the crawlspace below a lift floor should be at least 18 inches high and properly vented with 1.5 feather feet of vent area for every 100 squarely feet of crawlspace. Cover the entire footing area with 6-mil black polyethylene, overlapping the sheets and then taping them together. Extend the material 6 inches up the concrete initiation walls and magnetic tape it in place .

Hardwood Flooring On a Concrete Slab

Wood deck can be installed on an above-grade concrete slab if the slab is at least 60 days previous, dry, and has been professionally moisture tested ( this is beyond the skills of most do-it-yourselfers ).

The slab must be compressed, without high or low spots. And it must have a trowel finish that is clean. For dispatch data on readiness and installation, see Installing Hardwood Floors Over Concrete .

Before Hardwood Flooring Is Delivered

The conditions of your family must be ready for hardwood floor before the material is delivered. In fact, wood flooring is typically one of the last installations during a remodel.

To avoid physical damage to the coat, be certain it goes in after all structure and completed installation of any fixtures and appliances that will not sit on top of it .

How Heat & Humidity Affect Hardwood Flooring

Wood flooring—especially solid wood flooring—is very susceptible to moisture problems. Unless the manufacturer specifies differently, woodwind flooring must be allowed to adjust to the house ’ mho normal humidity level before installation to prevent expansion and contraction that can spoil the final job. This means any packaging should be removed and the forest should be stacked for several days in the room where it will be installed. Do not store it in the garage or on an outside patio.

Anything that might artificially alter the convention humidity horizontal surface of the room where the flooring will be installed must be controlled, excessively. For model, the house must be amply enclosed and the heat and/or air-cool system should be operating at normal occupation levels. If this international relations and security network ’ metric ton potential, you ’ ll need to set up impermanent heat and dehumidification that matches the conditions of the concluding outer space. All plaster, concrete work, wallboard, texturing, and painting of primer coats should be finished and dry to avoid introducing excessive moisture into the air .

Hardwood Floor Layout & Preparation

Determine the focus of the floor joists that corroborate the subfloor and plan to install the flooring vertical to them ; this international relations and security network ’ thymine imperative, but it is broadly the best practice. Start installation at the longest, most visible straight wall ( frequently an exterior wall ). If you know the positions of the deck joists, mark them on the wall where the base molding will hide your marks late.

Roll out 15-pound asphalt-laminated kraft paper flooring carpet pad to provide a vaporization barrier and reduce deck make noise. Overlap edges of the kraft newspaper by 3 inches. Use a utility knife to trim the paper around objects such as a fireplace hearth. Fasten the carpet pad to the subfloor using a staple gun. At both ends of the long wall, measure 48 inches toward the room, marker these dimensions with a pencil, and then snap a chalk production line between your marks to serve as a guideline. This argumentation should be precisely parallel to the wall so you can make sure your floor boards are in alignment as you work your manner across the deck installing them. From this chump, measuring stick to the diametric wall to check for equal distance at both ends. If the measurements are the lapp, the opposite wall is twin. If it isn ’ thymine parallel, the flooring won ’ metric ton be either, so it may be necessity to slenderly adjust your guideline. then snap bean chalklines across the kraft newspaper at each shock joist location so that you will be able to identify where the best back is for nailing when you get to that footfall.

How to Cut & Fasten Hardwood Flooring

The instructions given here are generic for cutting and nailing solid-wood shock to a plywood or OSB subfloor. Before beginning, read the manufacturer ’ mho instructions for your particular deck .

Cutting Hardwood Flooring

To rip shock, use a power interpret that has a fence, such as a job saw or table visit. For crosscuts, equip a office circular see with a carbide-tipped 40-tooth blade or, even better, use a baron miter ( “ chop ” ) examine with the lapp character of sword. Cut the boards face down with a circular go steady or face up with a job saw, postpone see, or baron miter saw. Be sure all end cuts are precisely squarely ( at a 90-degree angle ). For making curved or irregular cuts, you can use a portable saber understand ( jigsaw ).

The blade on this type of tool cuts on the upstroke, often splintering the top surface. therefore, if the cut will not be covered by molding, be certain to turn the deck face down during cutting. If the cut won ’ thymine be visible, it ’ randomness normally easier to work with the shock face astir .

Fastening Hardwood Flooring

When nailing boards to the subfloor, you will be using two methods : face nail down and subterfuge smash. Both can be done by handwriting with complete nails and a hammer, but it is much faster, easier, and less likely to damage the deck to use a power nailer for side complete and a pneumatic deck nailer for most of the blind nail down. You can rent these tools if you don ’ thymine want to buy them for just one job. To face-nail by hand, first pre-drill a pilot trap in the surface of the wood deck, and then drive a finish nail until its head about reaches the surface. Set the head below the surface using a hammer and nailset and fill the hole with wood putty that matches the floor. To use a office nailer, barely position the tool and pull the trigger—it should sink the nail down below the surface ; fill the hole with wood putty and wipe away the excess. To blind-nail deck, drive a nail at an angle through the tongue. When the rut of the next board is fitted over the natural language, the nails are hidden. For this job, you absolutely need a deck nailer. This creature is designed for easily driving a limited ring-shank shock nail down at an slant through the deck ’ sulfur spit into the subfloor. You just strike the cock with a dead-blow forge, one firm assume per smash.

+ Find a Wood Flooring Pro Near YouGet Free Bids Now!

Laying the First Rows of a Wood Floor

For the first three rows of floor, choose very uncoiled boards. then cut one starter display panel for each course. The boards should vary in length by at least 6 inches then the end joints will be staggered by at least 6 inches from row to row. face the spit of the first quarrel of boards off from the wall and dry-fit the boards in topographic point. Use 1/2-inch spacers along the base of the wall to provide an even expansion break between the floor and the wall ( this opening will be hidden by the al-qaeda mold after facility ). Use a measure tape to measure from the guideline to the board ’ sulfur edge to double-check that it is the lapp distance at both ends. Hold the board in place and top-nail it to the subfloor with 1 1/2-inch end nails placed about 3 inches from the boards ’ ends and about 1/2 inch from the grooved edge at 6-inch intervals. Set the heads below the surface using a nailset. Install all of the boards in the first row. Fit a control panel for the second gear row thus that its groove interlocks tightly with the tongue of the first quarrel. Use a tapping block or little man of flooring to protect the tongue and tap the second row boards tightly against the first rowing. then blind-nail through the clapper, placing a complete 3 to 4 inches from the end of each control panel and every 8 to 10 inches along its length ; where possible, nail through the subfloor into the deck joists. Until you reach the second or third gear row where you can fit the floor nailer in place, you ’ ll have to do this blind-nailing by hand with a drill, malleus, and nailset .

Completing a Wood Floor Installation

now it is time to dry fit five or six rows of shock, sorting and positioning the boards for a pleasing pattern and appearance. Remember to stagger the end joints by at least 6 inches. At the end of each row, cut boards to fit. It ’ second bright to pull flooring from respective different packages or boxes to mix up any variations in wood color and ingrain. adjacent, nudge all but one of the lax rows off from the bind second row and, if possible, begin the process of blind-nailing with a pneumatic deck nailer. HomeTips Pro Tip: If the flooring nailer does not have a protective plastic boot to prevent it from scratching the floor, cover its metal base with masking tape. At floor heating registers, constantly cut boards to fit the opening before installing them. When you come to an obstacle such as a fireplace fireplace, miter boards to create a border that will frame it. Glue this in position and then face-nail it. besides consider gluing the ends of the boards fitting snugly against it. Continue across the floor. When you get to the survive two or three rows, it will be unmanageable to use the floor nailer, so you may need to top-nail as you did the first row. To force the boards tightly together, use a little pry barricade. Fill any front nail holes with woodwind putty and wipe off the overindulgence. When you reach the final examination row, you may need to rip-cut lengths of flooring to fit. quantify from the wall to the top border of the concluding floor strip ( not the tongue ). Subtract 1/2 column inch for clearance, and then mark the boards and cut them. If the plank is less than 1 edge wide, bedspread glue along the clapper of the last full-sized rowing and then fit the final examination piece in put. You ’ ll need to use a short crowbar prevention to force the final airstrip against its mate as you drill and nail it. Use a short man of flooring to protect the wall from being damaged by the intrude barroom. Wipe away any excess glue. Remove any spacers, cut off overindulgence carpet pad that may be sticking up around the edges, install baseboards and shoe moldings, nailing them to the wall, not to the deck, and finish with conversion strips between your raw shock and other flooring materials. Fill any remaining nail holes with matching putty. ALSO SEE: Wood Flooring Buying Guide
Featured Resource: Find a Wood Flooring Pro

About Don Vandervort Don Vandervort has developed his expertness for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, writer of more than 30 family improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV ’ s “ The Fix, ” and served as MSN ’ s home expert for respective years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort

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