How to... install wood floors
Wood floors are beautiful and easy to clean. Don't spend a fortune getting them installed. Follow these tips to install solid hardwood floors in your home yourself.
Step 1: Measure your space
Before you get started, measure your room (or rooms) to determine how much hardwood you are going to need. Bring your measurements to the lumber yard, your local home improvement store or other retailer to choose your boards. You have plenty of laminate and engineered wood options these days, but these directions are for solid hardwood floors.
Step 2: Add the vapor barrier
Prior to installing your wood flooring, roll out the vapor barrier paper onto your subfloor. Your home improvement store can advise you on which vapor barrier will be best for your job. Take note of the floor joists. Your flooring will need to run perpendicular to the joists.
Step 3: Install the first row
Pick your starting point (generally the longest exterior wall running perpendicular to the joists). Measure out the width of a plank plus 1 inch and mark a line at that point, parallel to the starting wall. Top-nail the first row (and the last one) by pre-drilling the holes and countersinking the nails, leaving about 3/4-inch from the end wall. Fill nail holes with a colored wood filler. Once your first row is in place, double-check to make sure it's properly aligned and perfectly straight -- this is key.
Step 4: Lay out the remaining rows
Lay out the rest of the wood and stagger the planks for a pleasing appearance. For 3-inch or wider planks, you are going to need to fasten the planks every 6 inches or so. Using a pneumatic nail gun, install the remaining rows of planks across the room until you reach the far wall.
Step 5: Clean up and complete
At this point, you should sweep the floor and clean it with a recommended wood floor cleaner. Install moldings, baseboards and other transition pieces by nailing them to the wall -- not to the floor. Inspect the floor for any gaps or nicks and fill in with wood putty, if necessary.
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