Posts Tagged ‘Wood floor installation’

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