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
TOTAL SQ FT = 187
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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