How to Install Hardwood Floors

Hardwood installation tools and equipment list

Essential tools are:

1. Nail gun with the rubber mallet.
2. Finish gun.
3. Table saw.
4. Chop saw.
5. Compressor.
6. Pry bar (for taking out bad pieces.)
7. Saw for cutting door frames.

How to Corner

Situation is very similar to fireplace case, but sometimes you’ll have make another snap line if the room opens around the corner. It depends on the rooms layout too. If you’ll understand the idea of cornering right and clear, then you have obtained useful skill, and installation will be a piece of cake. Another difficulty is starting and finishing the process. It’s about the same, and it contains the usage of the same skills, we used in the cornering. Finally you will make it to the last wall. At some point nail gun will become unusable, because there won’t be enough room for it. Use finish gun instead. In order to have the pieces sit tight together, take a regular screwdriver and push the boards together, while nailing it.

And the very last board (and the very first one, and the one from the fireplace) you can probably figure by yourself at this point of time. Cut it using table saw, put in its place, but don’t use a hammer to bring it down. Take another piece of wood, put it on top of the last board and gently (or not) hammer it down, then finish it with a gun. Congratulations! It’s done! Now, if it is a prefinished floor, you should be all set, if it’s unfinished, hire a professional company to sand it and cover it with the poly.

Tip: always wear the goggles while using a table saw! Otherwise it can be very dangerous.

How to choose the starting wall, and make a reference line

The line goes along with the longest line between the sheets of plywood. We gonna need to refer to this line for accuracy. Now measure the space from the wall to this reference line on both ends of it and in the middle also. If all measurements are even and the wall is straight itself (which happens quite often), then it’s a perfect situation, where you can use a wall as a reference line, and simply start from it, without measuring anything else.

That’s easy. But we’ll stick with the situation which takes place much more often: crooked walls. Put a row of boards along the starting wall tightly. Measure the space like you did before, and choose the shortest space between reference line and the board. Remember that measurement. Let’s pretend it is 2 feet and 4 inches. Now measure 2 feet and 4 inches twice, on both ends of the reference line towards the starting wall. Mark these two spots with a pencil precisely. And finally snap the line.

Making a precise snap line is very important, because it is going to affect the accuracy of installation process. You start it right, you finish it right. Now, put the first row of boards along the snap line, so you can see the tongue of the board right along with the snap line, if you look at the board from above. Nail the wood down using a finish nail gun. Shoot from the top. Set air pressure to around 90-95 points.

Check often if the wood stays where it should be. Use preferably long, straight pieces. After first row is down, make another one, using same nail gun. Staple gun probably wouldn’t fit at this point of time. You’ll have to make a few rows using a finish gun, depending on the width of wood. Usually it is about three rows. Then you finally should be able to use the staple gun.

Hint: unpack a few bundles and layout the wood on the floor in a way it’s going to be installed, but leave a space between installed part and layout for the staple gun.

You’ll save some time by following this trick, because handling each board individually will consume much more time. By the way, don’t worry about blank space in the very beginning, we’ll come to it, when we gonna reach the opposite wall.

Ok, let the fun begin. Start nailing boards one by one. Use rubber side of the mallet to hit the nail gun and to place the board tight in place, by hitting the board from the front only. Use metal side to bring the board tight to its left. Do it gently.

The floor will look much better if you do it this way, and it’s going to be stronger as well. If you haven’t taken the moldings off, cut the boards precisely when you deal with the last one in the row.

Nailing boards in the middle of the room is easy enough, so let’s imagine we ran into an obstacle, like a fireplace or corner. If you have a fireplace, you will have to make a frame before you come up to it with the new floor.

Using a saw, make three pieces with 45 degrees angled cuts. It might take some time and effort to place them right, so there won’t be large or very noticeable gaps. Nail the pieces with a finish gun from the top. After frame is complete, we nail the floor boards until we reach the fireplace. Let’s imagine fireplace is to our left, then we simply continue process, as shown below, and we leave that blank space for later.

We leave them now, because those spots require usage of table saw, so we’ll do them all at once. Ok, now we have reached the other side of a fireplace.

Things to do before installing hardwood flooring

When you have shopped around and finally found the type of hardwood flooring you wanted, it is necessary to have it kept in your house for about two weeks, or at least for a few days. The longer the better, but one week is pretty much enough, though. It is done for the purpose of acclimatization of the wood with your house temperature. This way the wood won’t start shrinking later, which would have happened if you’d install it right away.

After you have waited enough, it is time to begin the installation process. Clean the area very well, it should be nice and flat, especially for prefinished flooring. Drive down sticking out nails, remove little pieces of stones, and sweep well. Oh, almost forgot: if you’re using the staples, never install on the particle board! It is NOT suitable for holding staples, and later on the floor will move, since particle board doesn’t hold staples and nails very well. Install on the plywood or existing old wooden flooring. If you have a particle board for the subfloor, you need to either remove it or install a plywood on top of it, depending on the clearance issues.

The frame around the doorway usually gets undercut. Using a special saw (hand saw or electric one), cut all the door frames. Use a piece of hardwood flooring to make sure you cut at the right height.

So, after preparing the surface, choose the wall you gonna start at. If you’re installing on a plywood, lay the boards preferably across the beams. You can easily determine the way the beams go by looking at the longest nail lines on a plywood, or, if in doubt, you can figure it out by looking at the beams in the basement. If you’re installing on the existing flooring (could be wide pine planks or just worn out hardwoods) always go across it. This way new floor will be much more flat and stronger than otherwise.

To be continued…

Hardwood Floor Installation Process

In this section besides basic installation technique, you’ll learn a few useful tips, which will help you to complete your task right, and make your floors look nice.For the tools needed, see “Hardwood installation tools and equipment”.

First of all, you need to decide what type of hardwood floor you want to lay down, unfinished or prefinished. There’s not much of a difference in the method you will use for either of them, except for that when you’re dealing with prefinished floor, you will have to be much more careful.

If you’ll leave a scratch, groove or crack on the prefinished floor, you might not always be able to fix it for it to still look good. Some of it you can fix, by putting polyurethane over it for example, but sometimes problematic spot is beyond an easy repair and attracts unwanted attention. Thus, you have to make your way to victory carefully, step by step, without leaving any bad spots behind, otherwise you might have to do some repairs afterwards, which is never a pleasure to do. It takes time and effort, and can be avoided. Shall be. Unfinished flooring is much easier to deal with, considering the fact you can skip more or less bad spots while moving on, and take care of ‘em later relatively easy. Grooves, scratches, scuffs, nail holes, cracks, misplaced staples, broken pieces, all of that can be punched down, patched and/or glued. After that, when you’ll be done with sanding part (which is necessary for the unfinished floors), it won’t look bad but rather nice.

To be continued…

Working with Oak Flooring

One of my favourite types of wood: hard and durable.It’s fairly inexpensive.You can find select unfinished oak  in the most stores, such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s.The price in these stores varies between $1.99 and $2.99 per ft.(depending on the time you’re buying it, I guess: if you will look for it during the summer months, when everybody seem to do some sort of construction in their houses, the price is higher).Most popular brand are: Bruce (you can find it at the Home Depot and Lowe’s) and Mullican(to get this flooring, you will have to do some shopping around).

You can find prefinished select oak, as well as unfinished.A lot of people prefer prefinished flooring lately, as this is the easy way out.Maybe it costs more (the lowest price that I’ve seen is $2.85 per sq.ft), but you save on the labor( it doesn’t have to be sanded and polyed), plus you’re not going to have that much dust, since there is no sanding involved.

If you’re not that picky and want to save yourself some money, get unselect oak.The difference is that there are more knots in the wood, the pieces are shorter and there is obviously more waste.In most cases ,if you are buying unselect oak, you will not be able to return it, even if you never opened the bundle (which, in most cases 19,5 sq.ft.).You can buy this type of oak in Lumber Liquidators for $0.99 per sq.ft. Also, you will not be able to find prefinished unselect oak, it only comes unfinished.I personally don’t like to deal with that type of oak, but if you have a rental, or rehab project, probably this could be the way to go.

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