November 11, 2022

A Complete Guide to Installing Hardwood Floors: What You Need to Do

In 2021, 81% of homeowners with home improvement projects took on DIY, and around half completed it with little to no mistakes. DIY home improvement projects are high-risk but high-reward ventures to increase your property value. Although most homeowners take on easier tasks, some challenge themselves by doing major renovations like hardwood flooring installations. While the flooring changes are more subtle, they are the top recommendation for homeowners who want a higher increase in their home value. Despite the risks of installing your hardwood floors without professional help, there are ways to ensure its success.

Making the necessary preparations is only half the battle. Update yourself on what to do before installing hardwood in this link.  In this second story for your hardwood installation adventure, get to know the step-by-step process and other tips when installing your hardwood floors.

1.   Locating the Joists

To start installing your hardwood floors, homeowners must locate the floor joists in the area and start working near one of the ends of the room’s longest wall vertical to the floor joists. Next, temporarily drive a nail into the floor. It will act as a joist locator, and securing nails on your subflooring can help you find other joist locations.

With a measuring tape, find the following joists. These are often 16 to 24 inches in the center, and begin marking each joist end using a protruding nail.

2.   Cut the Casings and Lock the Underlayment

When you finish locating all the joists, you can start cutting the bottom part of the casings. Doing so will allow the hardwood planks or strips to fit better on the floor. Lay the wood plank beside it and put the backsaw on top. This will help the plank keep the saw at the correct height when you start cutting.

After securing the hardwood floor underlayment, staple one layer on the subfloor and run the sections vertically to the joists and overlapping edges by 4 inches. Don't worry about the nails poking through the felt, as it will help secure the underlayment better. In locking in the underlayment, you have a cushioned layer that prevents squeaks on your hardwood flooring.

3.   Snap a Chalk Line

Chalk line guides are essential to avoiding mistakes when installing hardwood floors. These lines act as a guide when laying the first planks to ensure they stay in a straight line while you install the rest of your floorboards.

Start making a chalk line between the nails where the joists are located. After that, you can draw a chalk line vertical to the joist lines and the area near your designated starting wall. For example, the first course of your hardwood floor installation is adjacent to an existing wooden floor. The chalk lines will help keep your first line of hardwood straight and keep it that way throughout the floor.

4.   Plank Racking

Upon delivery, all hardwood planks and strips are bundled and wrapped together. During acclimation, laying out all the planks or plank racking and mixing them on their color and width helps ensure that all your hardwood adjusts to the thermal conditions of the area.

When you install your hardwood flooring, plank racking is also essential to mix and match which planks fit together. The plank-racking process helps you sort all the available strips and give you an initial look at what your flooring looks like when nailed down.

After choosing the planks needed for your first and last hardwood flooring lines, drilling the pilot holes is the next important step. Start driving a nail on the planks of the mentioned lines about an inch from the wall. To prevent your hardwood planks from splitting, you can pre-drill a sixteenth-inch drill hole through the floorboards. Doing this method is better, especially for DIY project beginners.

5.   Laying Your Hardwood Flooring

Remember to lay your first board by following the chalk guidelines you created beforehand and use spacers. Professional hardwood installers and suppliers often add or recommend spacers for homeowners to use during hardwood installation. Spacers help position your floorboards at the most suitable distance from the wall. These gaps are often three-quarter inches thick to allow any wood expansion.

You can secure your first hardwood plank using a hammer or a pneumatic face nailer. Lay the adjoining planks from end to end while following your chalk line. Once you start on the following rows, cut the hardwood planks to offset around six inches of the end joints from the first row.

6.   Work Your Way Through the Room

Work your way across the room by laying the hardwood floors row by row while ensuring they’re tight and snug from end to end. Drive your nails around a sixteenth inch below the flooring tongue’s surface. Flooring tongues are insertable wood pieces sticking out on the opposite sides of the plank. Make air pressure adjustments on your flooring if the nails aren’t sinking to your desired depth.

Avoid making use of bowed planks if possible. They stick out from your hardwood flooring and destroy the look of the floors. But when you start running low on planks, screw a lumber piece to the subfloor and use it as a brace when placing the bowed board. For corners, position the end of the plank against the wall and cut the necessary part but leave a half-inch gap for the wood expansion.

7.   Finalizing the Last Row

On the last row of hardwood flooring, lay out all the planks first before you nail them into place. You may have to rip-cut the last row of hardwood for them to fit into the floor. During this process, you can protect your wall using wood scrap and push them in tightly with a pry bar.

There can be gaps between the last hardwood floor rows and the wall. You can conceal these gaps with shoe molding and a baseboard. Align the edge of the baseboard against the top of the wood floor and secure it by putting the shoe molding just above the planks.

The Road to a Successful Hardwood Flooring Installation Project

Hardwood floorings are the highest ROI remodeling projects this year. However, the process of installing hardwood floors yourself is a task requiring precision, time, patience, and skill. Despite those things, there are instances where mistakes occur and affect the potential of your hardwood flooring.

Knowing how and what to prepare when installing solid and hardwood floors, including how to install them properly, can help lessen the chances of any mistakes happening. Moreover, homeowners avoid wasting time and money.

Are you confident about starting your 2022 flooring project? Contact a professional at Kelly’s Hardwood Floors now!