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How to Install Hardwood Flooring and Tile Inlay

Create a focal point in a room by adding a stylish hardwood floor and tile inlay. The experts show how to install the flooring.

More in Floors

add hardwood floors with surrounding tile inlay

Step 1: Pull Back any Carpet

Pull back any carpet at the room's perimeter and tack the carpet down out of the way. Use an old chisel to cut off tackless strips at the room's edge.

Tip: Position a new rack of flooring boards in front of you as you work so you can keep moving across the floor during the installation.

Step 2: Align the Boards

Align the ends of the new boards with the ones along the wall. Keep the ends flush as you work across the hallway opening. Near the door, cut the bottom of door trim to allow flooring to fit underneath.

align the boards

Step 3: Fit the Boards Into the Tongue

Face nail the boards closest to the wall using a trim nailer. Use a flat pry bar and scrap piece of wood to force the final boards snugly onto the "tongue".

fit boards into tongue

Step 4: Put the Carpet Into Place

With the boards now installed across the hallway, nail a tackless strip to fit across the opening. Trim the carpet to fit the new area, and press the carpet into place.

put carpet into place

Step 5: Fit the Pieces Around Doorways

Notch pieces to fit around any doorways. Slide the pieces under the jamb before hammering them into place. Finish the installation by installing boards at any entryways and down the length of the wall. Cut to proper width with a saw and face nail to secure it using a trim nailer.

notch pieces to fit around any doorways

Step 6: Install the Shoe Molding

Install new shoe molding all the way around the room to give the installation a finished appearance, securing the molding in place with a brad nailer.

Step 7: Secure the Cement Board

Have the hardwood surrounding the tile inlay in place. Use a 1/8" notched trowel to spread thinset inside a framed area and directly over the subfloor (Image 1). Position cement board over the thinset (Image 2) and secure it to the subfloor using 1-1/4" screws. Place the screws about 6-8" apart. Use a utility knife to cut the cement board to fit and continue securing it to the inlay area.

Step 8: Apply the Thinset

To set the tile, spread thinset over the cement board using a 1/4" trowel, keeping the grooves running in one direction. Keep the trowel at a steep angle as you work so the ridges are the highest possible (this allows for adjustment of tiles to match the height of the surrounding wood floor).

spread thinset over cement board

Step 9: Set the Tile

Add 1/8" spacers to evenly space the tiles and keep the grout lines small. Work one row at a time, positioning the tiles and sliding them into space. Repeat the process one row at a time until the final tile is positioned.

space tiles and keep grout lines small

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