How to Install Wood Flooring

How to Install Wood Flooring

How to Install Wood Flooring

January 24, 2013 by | Jennifer | There have been 0 comments

Installing wood flooring in your home may seem like a daunting task—and to be honest, it is a big job! But with proper preparation, the right tools, and some patience, you can put down beautiful floors that will be a gorgeous accent to your home for generations to come.

Before you start, you have a few decisions to make. What type of flooring would you like? Douglas fir flooring has a warm, rosy glow and is known for being durable and stable. Oak flooring is a traditional American choice and will hold up for years to come. Whether you want an exotic wood. reclaimed wood. or boards in wider widths than are available at many retailers, Altrufir can help you find high-quality wood flooring that will make your visions into reality.

Before you start

Measure your room to figure out how much flooring you need. Add 10-15 percent extra into your total to allow for any irregular boards or cutting mistakes.

Once you’ve ordered your wood flooring, prepare the site where you plan to install it. Remove any existing flooring and check out the subfloor underneath. Are there are any wiggles or squeaks? Is it level all the way across, or are their bumps and low spots? Fix these issues before you put your wood flooring down, or you won’t be pleased with your final product.

Next, you need to acclimate your wood flooring. Maybe you didn’t realize this, but natural materials such as wood are sensitive to cold, heat and moisture—just like people are. Pores in the wood expand and contract in response to temperature and humidity. Bring your flooring into the room where you plan to install it (don’t forget to open up the boxes!) and let it sit for at least four or five days to get used to its new environment.

You’ll also want to install a moisture barrier of some kind over the top of the subfloor—Kraft paper and roofing felt are two popular options.

Day of installation

Now take a look at your room and figure out where you want to start. You want to install flooring perpendicular to the supportive joists of your house, if possible, for additional structural stability. Exterior walls tend to be the straightest, and a longer wall is best.

Before you start nailing, lay out your flooring in the room and take a look at the variations in length, grain and color. You want to keep color tones and board lengths random, and never let the ends of boards in two adjacent rows line up with each other.

There’s one final—but critical—step before you start putting your wood flooring in place. You don’t want your first row of boards to sit flush up against the wall; you need a gap to allow for natural expansion and contraction of wood, as we talked about earlier. Measure about 1/2” out from the wall, and then use a tool called a chalk line to instantly snap down a straight line marking all the way down the length of the room.

Now you’re finally reading to start placing boards! If your wood flooring is tongue-and-groove, make sure to lay down the board with the tongue facing out toward the rest of the room. Follow that chalk-line religiously as you lay the first row. Once the first two or three rows (a complete row of boards is called a “course”) are complete, the rest of the installation should follow smoothly.

Be gentle with the first few rows. Some experts recommend drilling pilot holes through the boards, nailing them in place, and then sinking the nails further into the board with a tool called a “nail set,” which drives them down below the floor’s surface. Another option is to use a small hand-held finish nailer, a tool that is less jarring than the pneumatic nailer or stapler you’ll likely use for the rest of the room. The point of all this care is to keep that crucial first board in place, without messing up the alignment. Placing shims between the wall and the chalk line helps with this as well.

Fit the second course into place against the first, using the same fastening method as before.

Keep it straight

Once you’ve got two or three courses laid down, you can switch to a pneumatic nail gun, which will make the rest of the installation go more quickly. As you’re nailing, make sure to fasten each board in at least two places; aim to place a nail about every 10 to 12 inches.

About halfway across the room, snap out another chalkline and see how you’re doing at keeping your courses straight. If you need to, drive them together more tightly with a rubber mallet, which won’t damage the flooring.

When you get to the other side of the room, make sure to allow for that expansion gap against the opposite wall as well. You can make your final course narrower, if you need to, by measuring and then cutting down the length of the board to make it the perfect width.

You’ll need to put away the pneumatic nailer once you get to final row of wood flooring, as well—here isn’t room for it when you’re working close to the edge.

Final touches

Once all the flooring is fastened in place, give yourself a pat on the back—and a break. Wood flooring needs to sit for a few days after installation to allow the wood to relax into place, before the final staining and finishing  steps.

Yes, that’s a long process. But like any lengthy process, if you take your time and do things right the first time, you’ll be rewarded. In this case, you’ll get beautiful, durable floors that will make you happy every time you walk into your home.


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