If you recall we installed beautiful dark wide planked laminate floors throughout the downstairs about two years ago.
- Pneumatic Flooring Nailer *Amazon Affiliate link* (this is the flooring nailer we purchased, you can also rent nailers from hardware stores.)
- Regular Nail Gun
- Drill + Bits
- Spacers (you can make your own by ripping wood)
- Nail Punch
- Circular saw
- Pry Bar
- Tape Measure
- Tapping Block
- Chalk line
- Vapor Barrier
- Nails for Flooring Nailer
- Nails for Regular Nailer
- Puddy to fill in holes in wood made from Regular Nailer
Step 1: Measure Floor
The first thing we did when we pulled the trigger on the upstairs floor was take measurements so we could determine how much flooring we needed, and what our price range was. We had approximately 435 SqFt to cover. We originally added 10% for mistakes, but while we were at the store the associate told us to just do 5% and we could always come back for more.
Step 2: Pick Floor Out
As I said we picked out 3/4″ x 5″ Hickory from Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators isn’t paying me or giving me anything for this post. However, I would HIGHLY reccomend using them. I was almost annoyed we didn’t check them out when we were doing out downstairs floors. They had the most hardwood flooring in our price range. The store was small and easy to navigate, and associates were nothing but helpful. These particular floors were out of stock so we did have to wait three weeks for them to come in (not a big deal in the grand scheme of things). Also, when we looked into ordering out of stock floors from a different company they were going to charge us extra for shipping (even though it was not a special order item). This wasn’t the case with Lumber Liquidators which was a nice surprise!
Step 3: Floor Prep
Step 3.1: Pull up Carpet and Remove Staples
Step 3.2: Nail Down Squeaky Floors
Check the sub-floor for squeaks, if there is a squeak simply screw a long drywall screw into the subfloor wherever the squeak is.
Step 4: Decide Which Direction to Lay Floors
Step 5: Determine if Room is Square
Before laying the floor it’s very important to determine if the room is square. If it isn’t, the rows along the far wall will end up being at an angle and not parallel with the wall. We did this by measuring the diagonals of the room which told us that the center of the room was indeed the center of the room. We used a chalk line to measure the diagnols. Fortunately for us our house was actually square (surprising).
I will explain more of this in Step 9, while our rooms were generally square, we had bowed/wavy walls which made our first row difficult (See Step 9 for more info).
Step 6: Bring Floor inside to Acclimate
Step 7: Lay Vapor Barrier
Next it’s time to lay your vapor barrier. We used a 500SqFt roll of Aquabar from Home Depot.
Use a staple gun to secure it to the floor. Making sure each sheet overlaps at least 4 inches. Instead of laying it down all at once we just laid it down as we worked.
Step 8: Pattern
Step 9: The First Row
The first row proved to be difficult again (we had trouble with the first row on the laminate floor install too). After laying our first row (the first time), we pulled it up, because after laying our second row the boards all had terrible gaps. For the record, pulling flooring nails out is absolutely terrible… We ended up giving up and just putting them in a giant ‘we screwed up pile’ to use later if we ran out of boards. I’ll briefly describe what should happen with the first row and then explain our troubles.
For the first row you should try and find long straight planks (good luck) and place them tongue side facing away from the wall. You should also start your first row on the longest unobstructed wall. Mind the expansion gap by using spacers (What’s an expansion gap?? Expansion gaps are important to allow the wood to expand when the temperatures change). You can either buy spacers (which don’t work well in our opinion), or you can make your own spacers by ripping 2×4’s and nailing them into the wall. We did this for the laminate downstairs and made a sweet coat rack with the left over wood. While trying to lay our first row (for the second time), we discovered that our wall had a huge wave in the middle section and it was making out first row gap ridden and crooked. So we ended up ripping our first row out (again), and taking our spacers out. We then very carefully put down a chalk line and laid our boards carefully along that. We made the chalk line parallel to the opposite wall. This was incredibly tedious. Once the first row was nailed in things went much smoother.
Also note, since the first row is so close to the wall you’ll most likely have to face nail the first row. The tutorials we read suggested face nailing the boards at 6″ intervals (for the first row). With this particular flooring face nailing was no big deal. It’s hand scrapped and full of knots, and other random blemishes so a few nail holes (filled in with puddy later) really didn’t show up.
Step 10: Lay the rest of your floor!
10.1- Tools we used for getting boards into place
10.2 Making Cuts
For doorways transitioning into carpeted areas or more hardwood (closets) we laid down a board along the doorway threshold carefully cutting the carpet to fit and then tucking said carpet carefully down. I don’t think we’ll end up using this as a permanent solution for the hardwood to carpeted area thresholds. We’ll probably end up adding some type of t-molding to these thresholds.