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How to Install a Floating Wood Plank Floor

Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions show DIYers how to install a floating wood plank floor for a dazzling new look.

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Step 1: Determine the Room's Area

Begin taking measurements for the hardwood planks (image 1). You will need to add about 10 percent to the total for any mistakes you might make or boards that might be damaged. Don't forget to include closet space. There are three types of hardwood flooring: strip (image 2), plank (image 3) and square. Tongue-and-groove edges for these flooring types ensure a tight fit. All are installed in a similar manner. Plank flooring, can vary in width from three to nine inches. Square flooring is literally small squares of glued wood and is slightly less expensive.

Step 2: Empty the Room

Remove all furniture from the room so you can easily move around.

Step 3: Remove the Baseboards

To remove the baseboards in the room, first score any caulk or paint at the top of the baseboards with a utility knife. Use a pry bar, hammer and putty knife to protect the wall and pry the baseboards away from the wall, being careful not to damage them if you want to reuse them.

Pulling baseboards for hardwood floor installation

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 4: Remove Carpet

Pull the carpet up at one corner and carefully lift it off the tack strips. Roll the carpet as you go along (image 1) so that it is easier to remove. Once the carpet is out of the room, remove the padding. Again use a pry bar and hammer, this time to remove the tack strips (image 2).

Step 5: Prep the Floor

Carefully scan for any staples that were missed or nail or screw heads that need to be put back down into the subfloor. The idea is to have a smooth subfloor.

Step 6: Cut Under the Door Jambs

Use a hand saw to cut the door jambs in the room. This allows you to slide the hardwood planks underneath the trim to create a smooth, finished look. Sweep the subfloor thoroughly.

Cutting door jams to prep area for hardwood floors

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 7: Install Felt

Lay 30-pound felt on the subfloor (as recommended by the flooring manufacturer) and secure it with staples. Cut the felt to size using a utility knife.

Laying felt on subfloor for hardwood installation

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 8: Mark and Install the First Row

Measure 12 inches out from the starting wall at opposite ends (image 1), make marks, then snap a chalk line over the marks. Place the starter plank against the wall, then measure the distance from the edge of the plank to the chalk line. Verify the distance is the same at several points. Align the board if it is not. Any gaps between the plank and the wall will be covered by baseboards and shoe molding. Some manufactures recommend pushing the first row against spacers that keep the planks away from the wall a small distance. Others advise nailing the first row to the subfloor. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. If nailing the first row down, use a pneumatic nailer to secure the piece in place. Lay a second piece in place beside the first and secure it with the nailer (image 2). Although you are floating the floor, these first planks have to be nailed so they won't shift as the rest of the planks are added.

Step 9: Add More Planks

Spread a bead of wood glue across the top of the tongue of the planks, then slide the next plank in place. It is important to make sure that the planks are snuggly seated against each other to prevent gaps. Do this buy tapping them with a hammer and using a scrap piece of wood as a buffer between the plank and hammer. Every few rows place painter's removable tape every few feet perpendicular to the planks and across several rows to keep them snugly together as the glue dries.

Glueing planks together for floating floors

Courtesy of Marietta Fargueson

Step 10: Mind the Gap

Leave at least a 1/8-inch expansion gap around the perimeter of the room as suggested by the flooring manufacturer. Also, be sure to remove any glue that seeps through the cracks by using a damp cloth.

Expansion gap around perimeter of room

Courtesy of Marietta Fargueson

Step 11: Attach Thresholds and Baseboards

Attach the baseboards with nails going through the baseboards and into the wall. Save time by purchasing pre-primed baseboards and shoe molding. Paint the baseboards and shoe molding outside or in the basement with the finish paint before installing them. This will make it much less likely that a paint "mishap" will mar the new floor. Install thresholds in doorways where the flooring ends.

Installing baseboards

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 12: Install Shoe Molding

Attach shoe molding or quarter round with the nailer making sure that the nails are seated just below the surface of the wood and extend into the baseboard. Fill nail holes in the molding with painter's putty and sand smooth after it is dry.

Attaching shoe molding with a nailer

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 13: Touch Up the Paint

Prime and paint the molding where you can see the painter's putty taking care to protect the new floor from paint drips.

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Resources

  • Hardwood flooring (Nordic American/model: Rappgo Nordic maple floor) from Nordic American Corp.

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