How to Install Hardwood Flooring and Keep Your Sanity

Are you going to learn how to install hardwood flooring? First thing’s first: You need to choose the flooring. You have many options when it comes to hardwood flooring. Some of it can be installed the old-fashioned way, and some of it just snaps in place.

If you decide to use laminates or snap-together hardwoods, you’ll find that the kits come with their own instructions. However, traditional hardwood flooring is more involved. Here are some steps to help get you started.

Before anything else, the flooring base needs to be put down. You want the subfloor to be dry, clean, and level. Before you begin, remove the baseboards.

Whether you’re picking up your new flooring at a home improvement center or having it delivered by a flooring company, time its arrival so that it will be stacked inside the house for a few days. Remember, wood is a natural material that’s sensitive to temperature and humidity levels; it expands and contracts. It won’t fit properly if you don’t give it time to adjust to your home.

While you’re figuring out how to install hardwood flooring, determine which direction the floor joists/supports run. Once you do that, mark the position at the base of the walls so you have a handy reference. Now you’ll need to layer the top of the subfloor with 15-pound asphalt felt.

This does a few things for you: It protects the flooring from moisture and minimizes squeaking and creaking. If you’re installing the hardwood floor in your bathroom or kitchen, this step is especially important.

Mark the centerline of your room to indicate the position for the first board. When installing, leave a 1/2-inch gap at the walls.

Make sure to use a nail set to finish each nail you put in by hand, so the hammer doesn’t leave indentations. The first three boards or so should be nailed in by hand, even if you’re using a pneumatic flooring nailer. This will keep them from shifting.

Learning how to install hardwood flooring isn’t all that difficult. However, it takes time and requires precision.

Make sure to visit How to Install for more tips on everything from How to Install Carpet to How to Install Shingles.

- Christine Julianne

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