HOW TO INSTALL HARDWOOD FLOORS

September 6, 2016

Over the past year we undertook the enormous task of re-doing the flooring in our home. We installed solid hardwoods in our whole house, everywhere except the kitchen and bathrooms. They have made our floorplan feel larger, more continuous, and of course, updated. Goodbye, hodge podge of off white, blue, brown, and green carpets. And some tile, too.

The type of floors we used are not laminate, vinyl, or the click together kind, but the nail-each-board-in-plank-by-plank ordeal. Being nine rooms in, we have our method down! This was our process.

FINISHED WOOD FLOORS IN THE LANDING-2 copy

STEP ONE

Remove carpet, carpet pad, and tack strips using a utility knife and pry bar. Unscrew any vent covers on the walls.

STEP TWO

Remove baseboards from wall. David perfected a method he found never caused any damage to the boards while removing them. First, slide a utility knife between the baseboard and wall, just to get things loose. Then insert a painter’s tool into the opening and tap with a hammer. Finish pulling them off with pry bar. Make sure there are no remaining nails in the wall.

STEP THREE

Remove all staples from the subfloor. Hammer down any stray nails.

STEP FOUR

Saw door jambs. David held a wood floor plank up to the jamb and then knew the perfect height to cut them using a jamb saw.

STEP FIVE

Thoroughly sweep and shop-vac the subfloor.

HOW TO INSTALL HARDWOOD FLOORS copy HOW TO INSTALL HARDWOOD FLOORS-2 copy

STEP FIVE

(Note: On the very first room, we installed an anchor row before putting down underlayment. There are more details on doing this here.)

Install underlayment. We used the silicone paper from Lumber Liquidators. It is the cheapest option and we have been pleased with it. Roll it out and attach it to subfloor using a staple hammer. Sheets should overlap about 3 to 4 inches. Cut out holes for any ground vents. When trimming the underlayment, allow it to curl up the wall a few inches.

STEP SIX

Begin installing planks! We left a quarter inch expansion gap around our walls and that has worked well in both summer and winter. Use a dead blow hammer and tapping block to secure board as tightly as possible on to the groove of the previous row.

Using a pneumatic floor nailer, shoot nails into the side of the board. When close to a wall or in a tight space, we had to face nail with a nail gun. Avoid this whenever you can because it creates a hole in the surface of the wood that must be filled in with wood putty. Use a jigsaw and carpenter’s square to make special cuts to move around doorways, vents, or install a partial row at the end of the room.

Avoid h-joints (when boards one plank away from each other end at the same spot) or stair steps (when the end of planks create a stair case). Varied planks create a nicer look and are more stable.

FINISHED WOOD FLOORS IN THE LANDING

STEP SEVEN

Reinstall vents and baseboards. Fill in any nail holes with putty. You are done!

This is a general picture of how to lay woods floors. There are lots of different scenarios you could run into and we are definitely not experts. (We found this video really helpful too! We made fun of that guy relentlessly and he holds a really special place in our hearts.)

But, I do hope hearing a little about our story installing our floors is maybe a little inspiring. When we first started on this project we felt so in over our heads. By the end, we knew the process really well and any flooring challenges we came across were able to easily problem solve. More than ever I think if homeowners want to, we can do so much to change our homes ourselves.

I blogged about every step of this process, so there are lots of other posts that might interest you!
A post about shopping for our hardwood floors.
A post about about all the tools and materials we chose.
A post about planning the order of rooms to lay floors for a continuous look.
A post about leveling an uneven subfloor.
A post about installing the anchor row (very important!).
A post about how to use wood putty to fill in nail holes.
A post with a fast motion video of the process!

Lastly, although not a professional, David says to tell everyone if you have any questions about this you can e-mail us or comment and he will answer! What a guy.

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