How to install Hardwood Floors like a pro Angies List

How to install Hardwood Floors like a pro Angies List

How to install hardwood floors like a pro

When this member ripped up carpet, this is what the floor looked like. After trying to strip it herself, she called in a pro to install the floor. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Tobi V. of Berkley, Mich.)

Installing and refinishing hardwood floors

Installing a new hardwood floor can give your home an exquisite, fresh-looking appearance, and if you put in the floor properly, you can expect a lifetime of worry-free reliability.  A new hardwood floor is also a great investment, with its return appearing in the form of increased property value.

If you’ve decided to install hardwood flooring yourself, a few useful tips can ensure the best outcome. Before you attempt any DIY project, carefully consider the difficulty level and time needed to successfully complete it. Installing wood floors on large or complicated floor plans will often require a good amount of knowledge and the appropriate tools, so you may want to consider hiring a qualified contractor to assist.

Make sure your floor is carefully prepared

Before beginning the installation, clear your subfloor of any debris. Remove any nails or staples with pliers or a floor scraper, and then sweep and mop the floor thoroughly to remove any leftover dust. Although this step may not seem important, it can ensure an evenly finished floor.

Apply tar paper correctly

Every new floor should have a properly applied layer of tar paper underneath. This paper layer will prevent condensation from potentially rotting away the underside of your the new floor planks. Roll the paper out from wall to wall and use a razor blade to cut to fit. Make sure that the paper is right up on the wall, or at most, a quarter inch away from it. Carefully use a staple gun to affix the paper to the floor where needed.

Prep and arrange wooden planks for an even distribution of color

Whether it’s natural hardwood or engineered wood planks, there will be some variations in their respective tones. Natural hardwood planks will always have unique grains and shades, but this trait is considered desirable if you can manage to distribute them evenly. With engineered flooring, the color variations won’t occur in the same box but rather from box to box, which can cause large portions of your new floor to appear mismatched and unsightly if you don’t plan your layout carefully.

If you’re using engineered wood, mix the planks around beforehand to allow a more attractive blend of color.

Approach the installation process with knowledge and care

Before you begin installing your new wood floor, remember to wear safety goggles and gloves to prevent injuries from the floor stapler and finish nailer.

With the grooved edge facing outward towards the empty room, start by running a row of planks along the longest wall, and then continue to slide the next row into place, using a rubber block and mallet if necessary. You’ll have to cut these planks to fit at each end of the room. Make sure to stagger the short seams by using planks of different lengths. Every time you complete a row, use a flooring stapler to drive staples through the groove every 12 inches at a 45-degree angle. When you get to the last wall, you will have to use a finish nailer to secure the planks to the subfloor.

Finish the new floor with baseboard and transitions

To hide the seams where the wall meets the new wood floor, attach baseboards with a finish nailer. Remember to measure carefully and take your time when making cuts for the corners. To avoid wasting material, make sure your angled cuts are in the right direction. Cut thresholds to fit and install them with a finish nailer.


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