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How To Install Hardwood Flooring | Tips and Tricks

How To Install Hardwood Flooring | Tips and Tricks

Important - Before You Start

Hardwood is a living organic product that reacts to changes in humidity levels - In the Winter it will retract and in the summer it expands. In order to keep the expansion and retraction to a minimum, it is important that you maintain the humidity level of your home between 40% and 55% all year long. *Remember to let the hardwood acclimatize in your home for atleast 96 hours before installing your floor.

  • Hardwood floors should be the last thing you install when renovating.
  • Start heating your home a minimum of 1 week before you begin installing.
  • Keep the sub floor dry and the basement well ventilated.
  • Maintain the relative humidity level of your home between 40% and 55%.

1) Verify the Conditions of the Sub Floor

Verify and, if needed, correct the solidity of the sub floor. Since it must be absolutely flat, sand down any irregularities with a 20 grit sandpaper or fill them with compound.

Clean the sub floor to ensure it is free from any dirt, dust or debris.

2) Prepare Baseboards and Door Sills

Remove baseboards and door sills. Remove 3/4 of an inch off the bottom of door frames with a saw to leave enough room to insert a hardwood board.

3) Be Careful not to Damage the Finish

There's nothing worse than a brand new hardwood flooring that has been scratched and damaged during the installation process. To avoid this from happening, Lay down your tools and floor hammer on a protective mat or thick piece of cardboard. Vacuum periodically while installing to remove any abrasive material or sawdust.

4) Plan Your Installation

*This is a Very Important Step. It's important to take your time here to ensure the best possible results for your new flooring.

Determine the direction your will install the board and which wall or starting point you are going to use. Remember, it is ideal to install your flooring either perpendicular to the floor joists or at a 45 degree angle.

Measure the room very carefully to ensure your new floor is installed at the correct angle and is even. Note that corners rarely form a perfect 90 degree angle.

To achieve the best result, open up a few boxes of flooring at a time and like a puzzle, lay out rows of flooring before you install them to ensure an even mix of colors, shades, and board sizes. This is a great time to remove any unwanted boards and move them to another spot - Keep the less perfect boards for the less visible areas. Tip: Be careful not to unintentionally create patterns with the wood's normal color variations.

5) Use a Chalk Line and Trace the First Row

Use a chalk line to trace a guide parallel to the starting wall. Depeding on the width of the boards you are installing. Depending on the width of the boards you are installing, add 3/4 of an inch. This measurement corresponds to the area needed for the expansion joint and the tongue. For Example, if you have chosen to install 2-1/4 inch boards, trace the line 3 inches away from the starting wall. This guide line must be perpendicular to the adjacent wall. It is absolutely crucial that you begin the installation at a perfect square angle. Tip: Choose the longest and straightest boards for the first row.

6) Pierce and Nail the First Row of Boards

Install the first board 1/4 inch away from the wall. This will allow for an expansion and contraction joint along the wall. Remember the baseboard and floor moulding will hide this gap. The toungue side of the board should be along the starting line and the groove side facing the starting wall.

Pierce and nail on the face of the board as close to the wall as possible, approximately every 12 inches along the board. Install the following boards by moving to the left and continue until you have cut the last board and finished the row. Remember to leave a 1/4 inch gap between the wall and the edge of every last board of every row to allow for the expansion and contraction joint.

7) Re-Use the Cut Boards to Begin the Next Row

Using this method will drastically cut down on losses due to cuts. The remnant should be at least 6 inches longer or shorter than the board it will be nailed to - This will prevent the joints from lining up in an unattractive manner.

8) Nail the First and Last Rows by Hand

The first rows of boards in a room must be nailed by hand with a hammer, a punch and finishing nails because the wall is too close to use a nail gun. The nails must be nailed along the board every 4 inches.

You must install the last four or five rows as you did the first rows before of the proximity of the wall. You may have to cut the board installed along the wall to leave the 1/4 inch gap needed for the expansion and contraction joint.

Use the Nail Gun for the middle rows of boards as soon as you can.

  • The distance between the nails must be about 8 to 10 inches and more than 3 inches away from the edge of the board.
  • The distance between staples must be about 4 to 5 inches and more than 2 inches away from the edge of the board.

9) Install the Baseboards

Re-Install the baseboards and the quarter rounds as needed by nailing them to the walls - This is very important as it will allow the natural movement of the floor to occur.

10) Clean the Floor

After you have completed installation, vacuum the floors thoroughly. Spray hardwood floor cleaner and wipe the floor dry.

11) Install Felt Cushions Underneath All Furniture