How to Install Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors will forever be in style in the home or in businesses. While imitation hardwood floors in vinyl or laminate form are just as popular, how you go about installing them as planks is still a top customer question.

Preparing your subfloor before installation usually takes as much time as the installation. One thing to remember about installing hardwood floors is it’s typically easier to put in place than other types of flooring.

Even better, basic tools can be used to get it done in one day. Thanks to today’s flooring manufacturers, other quick methods of installation are also available.

Prepping Your Subfloor

What kind of subfloor you have determines whether you can realistically place hardwood flooring securely there. You need a sturdy subfloor to make this work, preferably plywood.

Getting that subfloor ready for the hardwood is going to take a little effort. Also, when first buying your hardwood planks, you’ll want to lay them out on the floor and make some specific decisions before putting them in place.

First, you need to remove all wall base from around the edge of your walls. This might need replacing as well if that and the floor were installed many years ago. Then clean the subfloor as thoroughly as possible with sweeping or vacuuming.

Then you need to use a moisture inhibitor product on the floor to prevent moisture from affecting the incoming wood. Usually silicon vapor shields are good to use.

When bringing in your planks, lay them out on your floor in the order of how they’ll be installed. At this point, you’ll also want to arrange them in ways showing the natural wood pattern you prefer.

What Kind of Installation Method Will You Be Using?

Real hardwood is going to require nailing the wood to the subfloor. It can also be done with a staple gun.

Many hardwood floor products from brands like Armstrong offer the product as a floating floor. This usually works by using a click-lock method for each plank piece. As one of the more convenient install methods, it doesn’t dissuade some from still using real hardwood.

If so, you’ll have to be sure to nail the hardwood into the right places. Nails have to go into the face of each plank on opposite rows. All other nails go into the tongue of the boards.

You’ll have to drill 1/32-inch holes into each ends of boards to get the nails in without causing splitting. The holes need to be spaced accordingly so each nail goes into the joists in the floor.

Positioning the Planks Correctly

While installing, the tongue side of each plank needs to face your room’s center.

As you place each plank in place, countersink each nail to make sure the boards stay properly connected. Sometimes this means doing blind-nailing at a 45-degree angle to keep the nail concealed.

A flooring nailer is a good tool to use as you install each plank row. You may have to use a mallet to make sure the nail goes into the tongue of each piece.

Once reaching the opposite wall, always leave a ¾-inch gap so you can properly fit your wall base back in there.

Dealing With Obstacles in the Room

Not all rooms are going to be perfectly shaped with four walls. Running into a fireplace or a door frame is inevitable.

To take care of this problem, you’ll need to mark on the plank where you’ll cut to take care of the obstacle. A jigsaw tool is essential to have on hand to make the cuts.

Oftentimes, it’s the tongue of the wood piece that needs cutting to work around things like fireplaces.

Properly Nailing the Boards Along Edges

Drilling pilot holes for face-nailing becomes necessary once reaching the edges of your floor again. This might require cutting the planks in the final row first so everything fits properly.

Should you place hardwood flooring in hallways, install it there before any other room so it meets properly with the other planks.

When placing your wall base back in, keep it even with the floor and use nails to put it back in place. With many top brands making quality wall base products, you might need a new one to match your new hardwood floor.


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