How to Install Hardwood Flooring

How to Install Hardwood FlooringOf all of the home improvement projects out there, installing hardwood floors yourself is quite possibly the most fulfilling. The smooth, continuous look of natural wood adds an undeniable beauty to any room in your home. Fortunately, installing a hardwood floor does not have to prove difficult. With the right tools and a few simple steps, you can completely transform the interior design of your home, giving it a classic warmth that never goes out of style. Follow these tips to learn how to install hardwood floors yourself.

1. Select the Boards for the Job

Choose the wood type, grain, color/stain, and width of the boards to be used.

2. Take Measurements of the Room

Find the square footage of your room. Do this by multiplying the length of the room by the width of the room. Record this number for later use. Find 15% of this number and record it as well, adding it to your total wood order. This allows for errors in cutting or irregularly sized pieces.

3. Check the Quality of the Sub-Floor

First, ensure that your sub-floor is at least 3/4" thick (for plywood) and that is free of squeaks. If you do come across a squeaky spot, insert a long screw designed for dry wall installation at the point where the squeak is most noticeable. Remove all resulting debris.

4. Use a Vapor Retardant Paper

Prevent later moisture damage by applying your preferred type of barrier paper. This is available for a relative low price at most hardware or home improvement warehouses. Lay this out across the entire area to be worked, marking a spot approximately 3/8" away from the wall. This is where you will begin laying your wood planks. The extra space, while small, allows for natural expansion and contraction, which will inevitable occur during the life of your wood floor.

5. Begin Installing Your Floor

Place the long edge of your first board against the longest wall in your room, taking care to leave the small space mentioned previously. Baseboards to be installed later will cover the visible gap. Drill holes through the board and through your sub-floor beneath. To secure completely, repeat this step with every board after the first and nail each down, setting after each nail is placed. Use quality nail-sets to avoid later issues with drifting and loosening. Keep the lengths of your boards irregular. This provides essential strength as well as an aesthetic advantage when the project is complete. Face-nail your entire first row of boards.

6. Staple your Floor Boards

Use your pneumatic nailing gun for this step. Situate the lip of the fun over the board's edge and hit with the mallet. This should plunge the staple firmly into the tongue of the board and attach it securely to the sub-floor below.

7. Prevent Gaps

When installing a hardwood floor, you'll notice that one end of each board has a tongue and the other is fitted with a coordinating groove. This allows the boards to fit together seamlessly. When cutting your boards, ensure that you do not remove the end of the board you need to match your next board's end. If this occurs, you will be left with a rather noticeable and unattractive gap. Fortunately, any additional hardwood you have ordered will aid in remedying this situation, should it arise. When nailing your boards, a good rule to follow states that placing nails every ten to twelve inches yields the best results.

8. Clearance Problems with the Far Wall

As your begin to approach the wall opposite your starting wall, it will become more difficult to accurately place nails with your pneumatic gun. Instead, hand nail these last few boards and secure with a nail set for added security. This step is nearly identical to the steps you used for the first boards.

9. Place Final Boards

If the last section of visible sub-flooring is too narrow to accept a full floorboard, carefully measure the gap and record this number. Take another board and mark the edge with this measurement, cutting it length-wise to fit it into the gap. Leaving a 3/8" space between this board and the wall will allow for normal temperature- and settling-induced expansion.

10. Apply Wood Putty

All nail holes that have been face-nailed will need to be filled with wood putty. It is important that the wood putty match the color of your hardwood. Completely fill each hole as according to the package directions, clearing away any excess as you go. Clean and shine the floor to complete your hardwood floor look.

Following these simple steps, you'll find that installing hardwood floors yourself isn't an impossible task, but rather an attainable do-it-yourself project that will leave your home looking better than ever before.

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