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How to Install Hardwood Flooring

Learn how to install cherry hardwood flooring in a master bedroom.

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installed cherry hardwood floors
  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Select the Type of Flooring

Choose flooring that matches your preferred style (we used cherry hardwood in this example). Wood is natural, so no two pieces will be identical, and wood will continue to patina with continued use. Make sure the subfloor is clean, smooth, level and structurally sound. Check your manufacturer's preferred subfloor surface. Bring wood indoors to sit a few days to adjust to the humidity level in the home before installing.

2007 bloggers chose cherry hardwood for flooring

Step 2: Lay the Tar Paper

Cover the subfloor with 15-lb. tar paper, nailing in place with a staple gun (Image 1). Tar paper acts as a moisture retardant (Image 2).

Step 3: Measure the Room

Measure the room to ascertain whether it's square. Measure the width to establish a centerline and snap a chalk line parallel to the starting wall. If the room is seriously out of square, position the tongue of the first row parallel to the centerline and rip the groove side at an angle parallel to the wall. Snap another chalk line 1/2 inch from the starting wall, parallel to the centerline.

snap a chalkline to establish a centerline

Step 4: Begin Laying the Flooring

Beginning with the longest or widest planks, place the first row on the starting wall. Face nail the first row through the subfloor. This will be covered by the baseboard, so don't worry about nails showing. Blind-nail the next two rows by hand. Stagger end joints of adjacent rows by 6 inches.

Step 5: Add More Rows of Flooring

When installing the next rows, place a short piece of flooring to the edge and tap with a mallet to tighten the new row into place before nailing. If the room covers a large area, use a flooring nailer after installing the first three rows. Slide the flooring nailer onto the board's tongue and strike the plunger to drive nails through the tongue and into each joist and the subfloor between joists.

On the final row, use a block and pry-bar to wedge the last boards firmly into position. Glue the last row in, as well as face-nailing it to hold in place.

use a flooring nailer to finish a large area

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