Archive of ‘Wood Floor Installation’ category

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Part Two

Wood floor installation techniques - dining and living rooms finished

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Part Two

Welcome back, in Wood Floor Installation Techniques Part One we covered the preparation for wood floor installation including carpet and carpet pad removal, baseboard removal, subfloor repairs and clean up. In this post we will cover some important wood floor installation technique tips and tricks we learned including which wall to start, tongue in or out, changing directions and fitting under door jambs.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Installing the First Row

Installing the first row for wood floors requires selecting a good place to start. Since outside walls are straighter then inside walls, we started with the far wall that has the sliding glass door. This created three challenges. Our initial challenge was to account for the fact the sliding glass door set back was slightly different than the walls on either side. This meant the gap in front of the sliding glass door would be more then ½. The second challenge was to make sure the entire row was straight to the wall. After all, even a slight 1/32” gap will become quite large by the time you get to the end of your room.  We also had to trim the wood floors to fit around the vent.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - First Row and Trimming Vents

Since wood expands, we left a ½” gap between all our walls and the wood floor. We then measured along the entire wall to ensure the first row of wood floors was exactly ½” from the wall. This gap will be easily covered by our new baseboards. If your baseboards are too narrow, another option is to add a shoe against the baseboard. This time the wood floor installation techniques solution was to use a square threshold that covered the larger gap. To adhere the first row I suggest you either face nail, or if you have regular nailer, position at an angle and nail directly into the tongue.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Installing the second row

Now that the first row is installed straight to the wall, you need to install the second row. Make sure you stagger the ends, versus abutting the edges of two rows or create an H-pattern, which occurs when first and third row edges are aligned.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - Staggering Edges

Fit the groove and the tongue together and tap snug using a hammer and wood block. Don’t tap too hard, or you may damage the tongue. For the second board in a row, you will also need to tap the edges together. I recommend you place a board against the wood floor and the wall to make sure you don’t change the ½” space when you are closing the gap between the boards within a row. For the final board in a row, you need to use leverage to close the gap between the previous board. Place a scrap wood against the wall and use a crow bar and pull until the gap is closed.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Undercutting Door Jambs

Eventually you will need to lay wood floor under a door jamb. The trick is to undercut the door jamb, using either a Dremel Multi-Max, or a traditional saw. Lay a piece of underlayment and a piece of the wood floor next to the door jamb and remove the material with your saw. By using both your underlayment and a scrap piece of wood floor, the flooring will fit perfectly underneath.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - Door Jamb

The next step is to determine how much you will need to trim from your wood floor. This is one of the most time consuming aspects of wood floor installation. There really is no specific trick. Just determine the size of your door jamb and mark your cut lines allowing for expansion. The final step is to cut the material using your Ryobi Skill Saw.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Reversing Directions

Unless you are really lucky, you will inevitability need to reverse your tongue direction when entering a new room.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - When to Use a Spline

This happened when we moved from the living room (Pictured below) into the master bedroom (Second picture).

Wood floor installation techniques - Living room complete

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - Spline to reverse direction

A really cool trick to reverse your tongue is to cut a spline or slip tongue and glue into the groove.


To cut a spline, use your table saw and cut a narrow strip from a piece of your wood floors. I recommend cutting more than you think you need.

Glue the spline into the groove, which will allow you to join two grooved boards and reverse your direction. The last step is to draw a chalk line between the two rooms to ensure your boards are straight. You can also measure from the board to the wall, but remember, inner walls are rarely straight.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Trimming to fit against a wall

When a row ends against a wall, you will most likely need to trim your flooring to fit. Be careful and don’t assume the gap between the flooring and the wall are identical. Our walls often were off by ¼”. If your walls are not plumb, cut your wood floor pieces using your skill saw. If your walls are plumb, then use your table saw or circular saw. Another installation technique is to use a straight edge to ensure a straight cut. Since you can’t use your hammer and wood block to snug the two boards you will need to use some leverage to fit the tongue and groove.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Tips and Tricks to Remember

  1. Start on an outside wall
  2. Leave a consistent gap between your wood floor and the wall to allow for expansion. Check with your wood provider. Use a spacer to ensure consistency.
  3. Your first row should have the groove towards the wall, since you need to nail in to the tongue.
  4. Once you start into a room, continue with that room.
  5. If you need to reverse direction, cut a spline and glue two grooved ends to each other
  6. Use scrap wood and a hammer to tap the tongue and groove and the ends and ensure they are snug
  7. When you are against a wall, you may need to face nail, or angle nail, or use glue to join your tongue and groove
  8. Mark your cut lines using a utility knife

Hopefully these Wood Floor Installation Techniques will provide you the assistance you need to conquer this DIY project. For additional guidance, you can also checkout Bob Vila Nation.  As you can see, the finished result is well worth the effort. We really love how they turned out.

Wood floor installation techniques - Living and Dining Rooms

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - A few rooms

Wood Floor Installation Techniques

Wood floor installation techniques - dining and living rooms finished

Wood Floor Installation Techniques – Part 1

Well, we finally decided to bite the bullet and remove that hideous beige carpet and install wood floors throughout the upper level, about 1,100 SQ FT.  Every since we moved in to our villa we always knew we would do the wood floor installation; it was just a matter of when.  Well that day finally arrived, we could no longer procrastinate.  What I hope to share with the Hello I Live Here readers are the wood floor installation techniques, tips and tricks we learned with this big undertaking.

How to Measure Square Footage

Our first and most important wood floor installation technique step was correctly measuring the square footage and adding 10% for waste and miss cuts (Trust me, you will have miss cuts).  My first wood floor installation technique tip is to divide your house into squares and rectangles and measure the width and length for each.  For example, measure the bedroom, hallway and closet separately.  Then multiple the length by the width and add them for a total.   This may seem a tad technical, but you want to make sure your measurements are accurate.  Here is the wood floor installation technique for calculating square footage for wood floors using the three sample rooms in our diagram:

Bedroom  – 13’6” x 9’10” = (((13’  x 12”)+6”)/12 x (((9’  x 12”)+10”) = 133 SQ FT
Hallway  – 5’3” x 3’7” = (((5’  x 12”)+3”)/12 x (((3’  x 12”)+7”) = 19 SQ FT
Closet  – 6’4” x 5’8” = (((6’  x 12”)+4”)/12 x (((5’  x 12”)+8”) = 36 SQ FT

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - Measuring Rooms

Trestlewood provides a square footage calculator on their website.  However, for the true DIYer, use the spreadsheet method so you can save your measurements for later use, like determining how much baseboard you need to buy.

Also, checkout Hosking Hardwood for some other measuring tips and wood floor installation techniques.

 What to Purchase for Wood Floor Installation

With your measurements in hand, purchase your hardwood floors and allow them to acclimate inside your house for about one week.  We purchased our wood floors from our local Lumber Liquidator.  While we are on the topic of purchasing, here is our list:

Air compressor
4 in1 16 gauge  nailer/stapler
Thresholds and trim
Miter saw blade
Skill saw blade
Dremel multi-max wood blade
Utility knife blades
5 in 1 painter’s tool
Knee pads

We purchased a 6-gallon pancake air compressor and 4in1 18 gauge nailer/stapler combo kit from Lumber Liquidators, which we will sell on Craigslist when we are done (This will be cheaper than renting a compressor and flooring nailer).

We decided to use Dream Home Quiet Walk underlayment.  It is made from recycled material, provides a moisture barrier and helps smooth any minor floor imperfections.  It was a bit more pricey but worth the investment.

For thresholds and transitions we purchased a stair nose for the stairs leading to the basement, a square nose threshold for the sliding glass door, T-moldings between the bathrooms and the laundry room and quarter round for the front door.  By purchasing these at the same place we purchased our wood floors we didn’t have to worry about matching the stain.  Below is a picture of the most common thresholds.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - Thresholds

Other wood floor installation techniques you will need including having several different saws and new blades for each.  We purchased a new 100 tooth saw blade for our miter saw.  This ensures we have nice clean cuts.  For cutting the wood floors to fit around doors, against walls and under door jambs we used our Ryobi skill saw and a new wood blade.   For undercutting the door jambs we purchased a new wood blade on our Dremel Multi-max.  To cut the underlayment, we purchased a 25 pack of new utility knife blades (Wood floor installation technique tip – The underlayment needs a really sharp utility knife to cut, otherwise, it ends up ripping).  The final item we purchased was a painter’s 5 in 1 tool, which proved invaluable for removing baseboards and carpet padding staples.

Wood Floor Installation Technique – Preparation Tips

Carpet Removal

Since this was a DIY installation we decided to lay one room at a time.  My hubby took Thursday and Friday off from work.  The goal for the first four days was to install all the wood floors in the living room, dining room and master bedroom, stopping at the kitchen.  We started Wednesday night and worked in phases.  Phase one was to move the furniture in the first two rooms to other parts of the house.   Next, using our utility knife we ripped up the carpet in our living room and family room.  We cut the carpet into long 3’ wide strips.  We then removed the carpet padding and rolled them both together and tied them with twine.  This made it easier for disposal.

Wood floor installation techniques - remove carpet

Carpet Pad Removal

The next step was very time consuming, removing the carpet pad staples.  At first we tried using pliers, but this was a royal pain.  So I searched for online DIYer techniques and found a cool website that explained how to use a 5in1 painter tool for quick staple removal.

Wood Floor Installation Techniques - carpet staples

Check for Subfloor imprecations

While removing the carpet staples, we also checked for subfloor imperfections.  It is critical that your wood floor installation be done on top of ¾” minimum subfloor.  Any imperfections need to be addressed otherwise; your wood floors will squeak and not lay flat.  We got lucky.  There was the occasional screw that stuck up a bit and had to be tightened flush to the subfloor.  You may need to remove the screw, and install a new one, depending on how damaged the screw head is.

Baseboard Removal

Next up was baseboard removal.  This can be tricky, especially if you plan to reuse your baseboards.  Since we decided to purchase new 5” baseboards, we weren’t too concerned with destroying the baseboards.  However, there are several wood floor technique tips if you want to save your baseboards.  First, score the chalking with either your utility knife or your 5in1 painter’s tool (We are using a 5in1 painter tool in the image below).  Be careful not to mar either the wall or the baseboards, take your time.  Next, hammer the 5in1 painter’s tool between the baseboard and the wall and gently move the baseboard from the wall.  Next, use a crowbar, or similar tool and, placing a piece of wood between the crowbar and the wall, gently pull the baseboard from the wall.  If you are careful, you can reuse the baseboard.  You will need to remove the nails that remain in the baseboard and putty over the holes however.  The last baseboard step is to use your nail puller and remove any nails remaining in the wall.

Wood floor installation techniques - score baseboard

Clean the Debris

The final step was to sweep then vacuum all the dirt and debris left behind from your demo.  Afterall, you don’t want to lay new floors on a dirty subfloor.  We have a handy Ryobi battery-powered handheld vacuum that worked wonders getting between the wall and the floor.

RyobiVacuumWe worked late Wednesday night and had the two main rooms completely prepared, so Thursday morning we could start the wood floor installation.

You may be wondering why we didn’t prep our master bedroom. The simple answer was we needed a place to sleep.   So, the master bedroom was phase two, but more on that in Part Two of Wood Floor Installation Techniques.

And finally, readers can also stop by Bob Vila nation and find other tips for installing wood floors