DIY Network

How to Install Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring is beautiful, durable, and fairly easy to install, especially if you use tongue-and-groove, prefinished boards.

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Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Staple Vapor-Barrier Paper to Subfloor

To find the square footage you need, multiply the width of the room by its length. Allow 10-15 percent extra for irregular boards and mistakes. To prevent warping and gaps, the flooring needs at least 48 hours in the room to adjust to the temperature and humidity. Start by stapling vapor-barrier paper to the sub-flooring. Allow at least a 4-inch overlap on the vapor barrier paper. If the subflooring squeaks, screw a long drywall screw into the subfloor and joist where the squeak is located.

For a solid anchor, boards should be laid perpendicular to the floor joists. Lay out the boards in a dry run to get right the pattern of shading and random length. The first row should be face-nailed into the floor joists.

Step 3: Allow for Expansion

Leave a 3/8-inch gap along the wall to allow for expansion. Then, the boards can be secured with a flooring pneumatic nail gun. The pneumatic flooring package can be rented from a rental center for approximately $50 per day. Make sure you get the staples and nails that fit the particular gun you are using because they are all different. Brazilian teak is 80 percent harder than oak and you will have a hard time getting the nails through the tongue and you also risk missing and damaging the flooring. The pneumatic tool gets the staples in at a precise 50-degree angle through the tongue. The staples will be covered up by the next piece that comes in.

Step 4: Prevent Awkward Alignment

Nails go through the tongue every 10 to 12 inches and the groove is then tapped to ensure the boards stay and fit snug. Stagger boards at least 6 inches to prevent an awkward alignment of end joints. If the gap for the last board is narrower than the board, cut the board lengthwise to fit the space.

Step 5: Nail the Baseboard in Place

After the last board, the baseboard is nailed in place. Stain shoe molding to match flooring. One quick install and prefinished hardwood flooring will give you a lifetime of beauty and pleasure.