How To: Install Hardwood Floors

We sure do love the look of hardwood floors and have covered hardwood flooring throughout AT. Since this is do-it-yourself month at Apartment Therapy, we thought we'd do some research on this more advanced project. We found an 8-step process on how to place this pretty accent in a room but still wonder...is this an easy DIY or is it easier to bring in a professional?

Ok, AT, have any of you tackled hardwood floor installation on your own?

Let us know about your installation experience and any special tips.

Pin it button big

1) Cover the subfloor with a layer of 15-pound asphalt felt, overlapping seams by about 3 inches. Tack down with a staple gun. Then measure the room's width at two or more points to establish an accurate centerline, and snap a chalk line parallel to your starting wall. Working from the joist marks along the walls, snap chalk lines to mark the locations of the support members.

2) To indicate the edge of the first row of flooring, snap another chalk line about 1/2 inch from the starting wall exactly parallel to your centerline. This 1/2-inch gap between the flooring and the wall will allow for expansion; it will be covered by base shoe or baseboard molding.

3) Choose the longest boards or widest planks for the first row. Near the wall, where the nailheads will be covered by a base shoe, drill pilot holes for 1 1/2-inch finishing nails, then face-nail the first row through the plywood subflooring to the floor joists or sleepers. Use a nail set to recess the nails below the surface.

4) Blind-nail this and the next two rows by hand. Drill pilot holes at a 45-to-50-degree angle through the tongues, centered on each joist or sleeper, at the ends and every 10 inches along the lengths. Fasten with 1 1/2-inch finishing nails. Use a nail set to finish driving each nail.

5) When installing the second row and every row thereafter, move a short piece of flooring along the edge and give it a sharp rap with a mallet to tighten the new row against the previous row before nailing.

6) If you're installing flooring over a large area, use a flooring nailer once you've installed the first three rows. Slip it onto the board's tongue and, using a heavy rubber mallet, strike the plunger to drive 2-inch nails or staples through the tongue into each joist and into the subfloor midway between joists. Be very careful to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging the flooring.

7) When you reach the final row, use a block and a pry bar to wedge the last boards tightly into position. Drill holes and face-nail boards where base shoe or baseboard molding will cover, using the reference marks along the wall to locate the joists. Set the nailheads below the surface using a hammer and nail set.

8) If your new floor will cause a change of level to a hallway or adjoining room, install a reducer strip for a smooth transition. This strip, milled with a rounded or beveled top, fits onto the tongue of an adjacent board or the ends of perpendicular boards.It can also be butted against the edges or ends of grooves. Face-nail the reducer strip at the edge of the floor, set the nailheads below the surface, and fill with wood putty. Last, reinstall the base shoe or baseboard molding.

Click here for information on how to snap a chalk line and click here to learn how to blind-nail.

[Images and tips via Home Tips.]

Check out more HOW-TO ideas from Apartment Therapy here:

21 Comments