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In general, hardwood flooring should be installed on a plywood subfloor. In particular, it is recommended to cover the frame with 19 mm plywood to obtain a solid floor. This will also prevent the floor from vibrating when you walk on it. Now, if you plan to lay your hardwood floor yourself, this guide is specially addressed to you. Here are the steps to follow.


Gather all the tools needed to lay the hardwood flooring


It is often said that the right tools make the right workers, and we agree wholeheartedly. Before you even begin the work, make sure you have all the equipment you need to install your new hardwood floor. This list will certainly help you in this first step:


– Hand saw

– Mitre saw

– Square

– Measuring tape

– Pencil

– Manual or pneumatic wood nailer

– Nail Hunter

– Finishing nail, twist nails and 2 inch wood nails

– Hammer

– Electric drill

– Vacuum cleaner or broom

– Vapour barrier membrane

– Chalk Line

– Wick 3/32


Preparing the room where the hardwood floor will be installed


Now that you’re properly equipped to carry out your mission, you can start preparing the groundwork – the room in the house where you’ll lay your new hardwood floor. To make it easier for you, here are the things to do in the right order:


– Take all the measurements of the room to make sure your hardwood floor is installed squarely.

– Lay the planks or strips on the floor according to the desired pattern before installing the floor.

– Place the planks perpendicular to the joists to provide a stronger surface and prevent warping.

– Install a second plywood ½ or fasten 2×6 pieces between the joists at 24-inch spacing. This ensures a perfectly parallel installation to the joists.

– Since the successful installation of the entire floor depends, among other things, on the installation of the first row, you must ensure that it is done correctly at this stage.

– Make sure that the last row has a minimum width of one inch so that the boards can be fastened properly.

Installing the subfloor


Regarding the installation of the subfloor, which can be OSB or Plywood, there are a few basic rules to follow. First, the installation must be done on a straight surface, the difference cannot exceed 3/16 by 10 feet. Secondly, the humidity level of the subfloor must be less than 12%. If you have a crawl space, it is strongly recommended to waterproof the concrete beforehand so that air can circulate more easily. Clean the crawl space before installing a vapour barrier which can be saturated asphalt kraft paper or laminated tar paper with overlapping joints of 4 inches or more. This minimizes moisture problems.


Installing hardwood flooring in 8 steps


At this stage, everything is ready for the installation of your hardwood floor. Here are the 8 steps to fulfill your mission.


1. Drawing the guideline

Nothing can be left undone when installing hardwood flooring. The slightest mistake can alter the solidity of the floor. Therefore, even if you have already taken the measurements of the room earlier, we advise you to do it again after installing the subfloor. Here, the objective is to define the layout of the boards by checking that the parallel sides are equal and at equal distance from the walls. A space of ¾ must be left between the boards and the walls for lateral expansion and a space of ¼ between the ends and the walls for longitudinal expansion. There you have it, you have set the guideline for the installation of your hardwood floor.


2. Install the first hardwood strip on the guideline.

In order to have no difficulty installing all the hardwood planks, and also to ensure that the flooring is stable, take the time to choose the straighter planks in the lot. They will make up the first line.


3. Drill guide holes

It is now time to prepare the first row of flooring and to do this, straight guide holes must be drilled at ½ inch on one side of the board every 10 inches. It is important to stop making holes 2 inches from the ends.


4. Fasten the first row with finishing nails.

Namely, you cannot use a nailer on areas near walls. So you will have to fix the first and last rows manually. For the very first row, you must use finishing nails, a nail punch and a hammer to fix them.


5. Fix the other rows with 45° drill holes.

For other rows not close to a wall, you can use a surface nailer. Fasten these boards with this tool at a 45-degree angle in the stud every 8 inches. Each time, make sure that the nail head is well embedded and hidden in the wood.


6. Nail the rows

Each board should be nailed in two or three places, or even more if it is too long or too wide. So grab your wood nailer and a rubber mallet as soon as space permits. It is recommended that you nail the boards every 6 to 8 inches and about 2.5 inches from the ends.


7. Arrange the boards to avoid joint alignment.

It is important to avoid joint alignment to get a look worthy of the work of a professional hardwood floor installer. To do so, you must take great care to ensure that the ends of the boards are at least 4 inches apart.


8. Nail the baseboards into the wall

The very last step is to manually fix the last two or three rows as appropriate. You just have to proceed in exactly the same way as when you laid the first rows. Now place the baseboards and quarter-rounds correctly and nail them into the wall. We would like to insist that you nail them into the wall and not into the floor. Otherwise, they will not be stable and may move when the hardwood floor expands.


Additional tips for the successful installation of your hardwood flooring


As you have seen, the installation of hardwood planks, whether oak, maple, ash, beech or cherry, requires the use of nails. It is important to know that each plank has a male side, also called the tongue, and a female side called the groove. Both sides allow the boards to be nested inside each other. They are then fastened with nails driven at 45 degrees into the corner of the tongue. Then, you will fit the groove of the next plank into it.


It is strongly forbidden to cut the boards into small pieces using a portable circular saw. It is better to use a saw bench or an electric mitre saw to avoid damaging them and especially to avoid injuring yourself. In addition, the first hardwood plank must be fixed on the mortise side with finishing nails. This is the best way to hold it in place. To avoid splitting the wood, drill a hole with an electric drill before inserting the nail. Installing quarter rounds at the end of the work serves to hide the nails on the edge of the boards. You should also avoid placing a nail within 3 inches of each end of the boards.


The use of a pneumatic flooring nailer is more efficient for installing hardwood strips. This tool allows nails to be driven more precisely into the corner of the stud. Even if the first row must be nailed manually, a nailer adapted for other rows must be used to save time and be more efficient. Since the board can move, hammer blows can damage the blade. The pneumatic hammer is mainly used to fasten the boards tightly and place the nail at the right angle. Position the nailer against the board you want to nail and hit the trigger with the rubber mallet to drive the nail in. This will ensure that the board to be nailed will be well glued to the boards that are already installed.


Next, cut the blade, drill it and nail it with finishing nails. If you used unvarnished strips, use a sander to polish and sand your new hardwood floor. This will allow you to obtain a smooth finish on which you can directly apply protective coating, stain and varnish.