How to Install Hardwood Flooring [ Step-by-Step Guide]
Not only are you not alone in having questions about how to install hardwood flooring, but many people do as well.
And, if you’re anything like us, you’ve definitely done some preliminary study on the subject.
You’ve done extensive research into the advantages and disadvantages of tile versus laminate flooring; you’ve looked into the greatest vinyl flooring that money can buy.
And you’ve discovered that installing hardwood floors… isn’t nearly as straightforward as it appears.
Take it easy, my friend. We’re here to assist you.
We’ll go over the four most prevalent methods of installing hardwood flooring in the section below.
Following that, we’ll go over step-by-step directions for installing all types of wood flooring, using whatever method you like.
During this session, we’ll answer all of your concerns about how to install hardwood floors in your home; we’ll go through the tools that you will need, and we’ll even cover how to maintain your guarantee valid after the installation is complete.
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How to Install HardwoodFlooring [Quick Guide]
In a nutshell, here’s how to install a hardwood floor:
- Estimate and place an order for the materials you require.
- Prepare the subfloor and secure the asphalt-laminated kraft paper flooring underlayment to it with screws or nails.
- Deliver the materials to the location and enable them to become acclimated to the humidity of the room.
- Layout and designate the location of the flooring in advance.
- Attach the first row of flooring to the subfloor with a screwdriver.
- Cut and fasten a series of flooring strips one after another.
- Remove the final row of flooring and secure it in place using screws.
- The floor should be sanded and polished (unfinished solid flooring only).
HardWood Flooring vs. Engineered Wood Flooring
As explained in the Wood Flooring Buying Guide, the two most common varieties of hardwood flooring—solid and engineered—have substantial differences in terms of appearance and performance.
The third form of flooring, laminate flooring, isn’t really wood at all—it’s a photograph of wood that has been attached to a composite core; nevertheless, this is not the sort we’re talking about here.
Compared to solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring is often thinner in thickness. It is made of a thin coating of hardwood on the surface and a core that is more similar to plywood on the inside.
If you intend to install the floor yourself, engineered-wood flooring is usually the ideal choice because it comes pre-finished, removing the need for sanding and finishing the floor, which makes the job significantly easier and less time-intensive.
Furthermore, because engineered-wood flooring is constructed from layers of wood that have been sandwiched and glued together, it is more stable than solid wood and more resistant to changes induced by severe temperatures and humidity than solid wood flooring.
Because the finish layer on engineered flooring is extremely thin (ranging from 1/16′′ to 3/16′′), it can only be sanded and refinished once or twice at the most.
Flooring materials such as engineered wood (or other flooring materials such as tile or vinyl) can be laid above or below grade depending on the application.
Hardwood flooring is a classic choice for many homeowners.
It is typically thicker than engineered flooring and is evidently cut from a single piece of hardwood rather than from multiple boards.
As a result of variations in moisture and temperature, solid-wood flooring has a proclivity to warp, twist, expand, and compress.
Solid flooring, on the other hand, can be sanded down and refinished numerous times over its lifetime.
Water, which is often present beneath below-grade floors and can be extremely harmful to solid wood, must not be more than 3 inches lower than the ground level outside.
Expert Advice: Floor sanding is an extremely dusty job, and the use of a drum sander can leave noticeable markings and ridges on the surface of the floor.
If you are not familiar with this type of work, you should strongly consider installing a prefinished one.
Bathrooms and kitchens, on the other hand, are a different matter.
Despite the fact that moisture is present in both locations, a solid-wood floor can be protected by applying a durable, protective finish to the surface.
Preparation for Hardwood Flooring Installation
Because installing hardwood flooring is typically a significant and expensive home renovation project, it is important to achieve a high-quality and long-lasting result.
The key to success is thorough planning. This video will guide you through the process of obtaining the tools and materials you’ll need, as well as determining the amount of flooring you’ll require.
Also demonstrated is the process of installing carpet over a suspended wood floor.
New wood flooring should be installed on a clean, smooth, level, and structurally sound subflooring surface before being finished.
A prior floor covering, an existing wood floor in good condition, a newly installed plywood subfloor, or even a moisture-proofed concrete slab may serve as the foundation for the flooring.
The advantage of placing wood over an existing floor is that you save the dirty task of removing the old flooring and you benefit from the soundproofing and insulation provided by the previous flooring.
The disadvantage of leaving old flooring in place is that you will have to fix any imperfections that may have developed in it.
In addition, the new floor will raise the floor level, making the transition to a hallway or an adjoining room more difficult to navigate.
Right tools In Installing Hardwood Floors
DuoFast sponsored the principal tools for this job, providing their DuoFast Floormaster 200-S Hardwood Stapler for the majority of the floor, which was a huge help for us on such a massive project.
We used approximately 3000 staples in our 1100 square foot installation, which is an average of slightly less than 3 staples per square foot.
The Floormaster 200-S performed wonderfully, with no jams or other issues.
Also provided was a DuoFast Floormaster 250BN finish nailer for the first and last boards, as well as to assist the installation of the crown molding and trim.
Both of this equipment functioned admirably across our whole floor, and we would strongly suggest them to anyone who is considering putting flooring in their own home.
The Best Places to Buy Hardwood Floors
In this installation, the Bellawood Brazilian Walnut Flooring from Lumber Liquidator was selected as the flooring material.
Bellawood is a high-quality product that has been sealed in many layers of aluminum oxide, which is the ideal surface coating for hardwood floors.
When compared to polyurethane, aluminum oxide is significantly preferable since it has stronger scratch resistance and does not fade or yellow with age.
When it comes to flooring, we highly recommend Lumber Liquidators’ internet website if you haven’t already done so.
In addition, their website offers really competitive prices, and they may ship the items directly to your house.
Hardwood flooring is available from a number of other large box merchants and can represent a significant financial investment.
You should select Lowes if you do not want to make your purchase through Lumber Liquidators.
We’ve previously talked about a free Lowes Coupon that can save you up to 10% off a large purchase, such as hardwood flooring.
The Most Frequently Used Methods of Installing Hardwood Floors
Your search for the best hardwood floors has most likely led you to the discovery of a variety of installation methods, each of which is dependent on the way your hardwood planks are made.
To ensure that the planks fit together, most solid hardwood planks (and certainly engineered wood planks) are produced with tongue-and-groove edges.
These floors, on the other hand, do not lock together in the same manner that click-together flooring does.
As a result, they must be linked to a subfloor or underlayment before being installed.
Don’t understand the distinction?
Learn about the differences between underlayment and subflooring.
Method #1 of Hardwood Installation: Nailing the Wood to the Subfloor
Nailing the planks to the subfloor is the most common way of installing solid hardwood floors in homes and businesses.
The traditional method of nailing is a viable choice if the subfloor is made of wood—ideally 3″ plywood or 3″ oriented-strand board (OSB).
This method necessitates the use of a nail gun, with the nails being driven into the tongue of the planks.
Make sure to provide a 14″ to 3/8″ gap between the wall and the flooring to allow for expansion and contraction during construction.
It’s important to realize that this form of hardwood floor installation is not for the inexperienced homeowner.
Installing hardwood floors by nailing hardwood boards together is by far the most difficult method of doing it.
Our modest flooring recommendation: hire a professional flooring installer to do the job for you.
Method #2: Stapling to a Subfloor
Stapling solid and engineered wood flooring to a subfloor, rather than nailing it, is an option for some applications.
The approach is quite similar to the nail-down method, except that staples are used instead of nails. Surprise.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing nails over staples?
Staples, on the other hand, has a stronger hold on your wood planks, which means the boards are more secure.
Nails, on the other hand, are more forgiving of movement. In addition, when it comes to the natural expansion and contraction of solid hardwood boards, this is definitely something to take into consideration.
Method #3 of Hardwood Installation: Gluing the Wood to the Subfloor
Wood flooring that is attached to the subfloor can be used to produce beautiful wood floor patterns.
Many types of wood flooring can be fastened to the subfloor, and you’ll see this technique utilized to create fantastic wood floor designs (or parquet).
Aside from that, many other types of flooring are routinely supplied as glue-down goods; for example, if you’re looking for the best cork flooring, you’ll find that many of your selections may be installed in this manner while researching cork flooring.
But make sure you do your homework.
The use of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in flooring adhesives might cause toxins to be released into the air in your house.
Again, we strongly advise you to choose a nearby flooring business so that you can be certain of who is installing your floors and what materials they are utilizing to do so.
It is they who you should consult if you want to know how to install hardwood floors without using any toxic materials!
Method 4: Click-Together Floating Floors
Because of the grooves in each plank, click-together or snap-together flooring is able to be locked into place precisely as its name implies.
These floors aren’t even connected to a subfloor in any way.
Instead, they are held in place by the pressure exerted by the boards and the walls surrounding them.
As a result, they appear to “float” on top of the subfloor.
Voila! Floating floors are a type of flooring that floats above the ground.
The installation of floating floors is far easier than dealing with dirty, odoriferous glue or nail/staple guns, which are both time-consuming.
The following is the quickest and most straightforward method of installing hardwood floors as a do-it-yourself flooring alternative.
The majority of engineered hardwood options are available as click-together flooring, but solid wood click-together products are a little more difficult to find.
You get a seamless surface with floating floor planks since they fit together like jigsaw pieces if that’s what you’re looking for.
However, if you like a more rustic appearance, you can also locate it.
Kahrs, for example, offers some of the best-engineered wood flooring available for those who prefer features such as beveled edges and saw marks in their flooring.
If floating flooring is more convenient and quicker to install, you might be asking what the drawbacks are.
Here’s what you need to know.
That’s a great question! Squishy or hollow floors are one of the most often mentioned issues by customers.
But rest assured that this is frequently due to insufficient underlayment and/or other installation concerns, rather than to the flooring itself.
In addition, several hardwood floor alternatives are available as click-together floating flooring that are easy to install.
You’ll see, for example, that laminate can be installed in a variety of methods, but that it’s most commonly sold as a click-together product if you’ve been comparing laminate and hardwood floors.
As a recommendation, if you’re considering some of these alternatives to hardwood flooring, do some research on faux wood flooring!
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Install Hardwood Flooring
Some types of wood flooring are known to be more durable than others, and this is no exception.
For example, if you look into the advantages and disadvantages of engineered bamboo flooring, you’ll discover that bamboo is one of the most durable flooring options available—and that it may be up to twice as hard as some hardwoods.
However, and we emphasize the word “but,” the life and longevity of your hardwood floors are most heavily influenced by the quality of the installation.
So, no matter which installation method you choose, if you want to ensure that your wood flooring is as long-lasting as possible, make sure to follow these step-by-step guidelines.
Step 1: Set Up the Workspace
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to use the straightest boards possible, placed such that the tongue side of each plank faces the middle of the room.
In the expansion gap — the space between a wall and a floor that allows the wood to expand as a result of heat and humidity — place spacers to support the wood.
Predrill nail holes in the planks 1/4 inch from the narrow side and 1/2 inch from the wall, starting 1/4 inch from the narrow side. Keep going at 6-inch intervals for the whole length of the boards.
Step 2: Countersink the nails
In order to avoid having to maneuver around the pneumatic nailer close to the wall, face-nail the first few boards into position.
Countersink the nails with a nail punch and fill the remaining hole with putty that matches the color of the nail heads.
Then insert a blind nail through the tongue at a 45-degree angle.
Make certain that the nail is countersunk so that it does not interfere with the board-to-board connection.
It’s Beneficial to Know
By utilizing the adjacent installed board, blind-nailing can be used to conceal a nail from view.
When installing tongue-and-groove flooring, drive a nail through the tongue at a 45-degree angle, then cover it by engaging the groove of the next board in the same manner.
Remember to countersink the nail, which means to drive it just a little bit below the surface of the wood, to avoid interference in the joint.
Step 3: Assemble and secure the boards
On the second row, lock the tongue and groove together and tap them together with a mallet and block to ensure that the boards are tightly fit together.
Spread the ends of adjoining boards at least 6 inches apart, cutting the end board if necessary, to create a more durable and aesthetically-pleasing floor design and to increase the strength of the flooring pattern.
Step 4: Install the flooring with a flooring nailer.
Continue to blind-nail the second row through the tongue until you are able to use the flooring nailer.
Because the flooring nailer requires a large amount of space to operate, it is normally not used until two to four rows of flooring have been placed.
When using a flooring nailer, make sure to insert the protective boot that comes with the nailer to keep the flooring safe.
Step 5: Complete the hardwood floor installation process
When you reach the last few rows, you can switch back to hand nailing the rest of the way.
On the last row, cut the pieces to fit by measuring the distance from the wall to the board — not the space between the tongue and the board — minus the expansion gap and cutting the pieces to fit.
Use only a little amount of wood glue to hold the tongue and groove together if the final piece is less than 1 inch in width.
Insert the piece into the wall using a pry bar and a scrap piece of wood to protect the wall from damage.
If the final piece is more than 1 inch in width, face nail it to the board, countersink it, and fill the hole with matching putty to finish it off.
Step 7: Install the Transition Pieces
Install the transition parts in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and then remove the spacers from the installation process.
Rather than to the floor, cut the underlayment and reattach the baseboards and shoe molding to the wall instead.
Our Final Thoughts
You should also consider that getting a professional to install your floors could cost you upwards of several thousand dollars, so taking the extra effort to do it yourself may be worth it.
When you do your own flooring installation, you simply have to pay for the goods and tools you use, or the cost of tool rental.
This is far less expensive than professional installation because you are not paying for the high level of quality and craftsmanship that specialist labor provides.
After all is said and done, if you believe you are up to the task, are handy, and consider yourself a want tobe Bob Vila or Vern Yip, this project is for you.
Frequently Ask Questions
Is it possible for me to install hardwood floors myself?
This type of innovation has made it easier than ever before to install a hardwood floor on your own, saving you time and money.
It goes without saying that hiring a professional to install your floors will save you a significant amount of time compared to doing it yourself.
When you do your own flooring installation, you simply have to pay for the goods and tools you use or the cost of tool rental.
Is it required to use underlayment for solid hardwood floors?
While underlayment for your hardwood floors is not always necessary, there are numerous advantages to using it whenever possible.
One of the most important benefits of installing underlayment is the increased stability and durability it provides.
Underlayment provides stability for your floor while also helping to level out any flaws in the subfloor.
Is it necessary to nail down hardwood flooring?
Solid hardwood floors must be secured in place by either gluing or nailing them to the subfloor to prevent them from shifting.
If, on the other hand, you intend to install your hardwood floor directly on joists, you will need to concealed nail them into place before proceeding.