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How to Install Veneer Flooring

Carter Oosterhouse shows how to install walnut veneer tongue-and-groove flooring.

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Step 1: Determine the Direction

Determine which direction you want the flooring to run. Usually flooring is installed so it runs the length of the room for aesthetic purposes, but it depends on personal taste.

Step 2: Remove the Baseboards

Remove any baseboards as the flooring needs to be installed close to the wall.

Step 3: Attach the Underlayment

Place the underlayment on top of the existing floor or the subfloor, as this will help reduce moisture and squeaking. Staple the underlayment into place so it won’t shift.

Step 4: Place the First Board

Start at the corner of the room and place the first board with the tongue facing toward the wall. Be sure to leave a gap of about half-an-inch so the floor has room to expand and contract.

Step 5: Place the Second Board

Place the second board next to the first so the shorter ends touch. Pull the second piece as close as possible.

Step 6: Make a Tight Fit

For a tight fit, grab a small scrap piece of the flooring and fit it into the grooves of the last piece. Place a block on the end of the scrap piece and knock it with a mallet a few times until it locks into place. Do not try to knock the wood directly, as it may damage the edge. If a piece is damaged, save it to use later as an end piece.

Step 7: Cut the End Piece to Size

Continue laying down the flooring in this manner. When you get to the end next to a wall, mark with a pencil how much flooring remains and cut down the piece to the appropriate size.

Step 8: Lock the End Piece

In order to lock the end piece into place, try using a smaller scrap piece of flooring. If there isn’t enough room in the gap to fit a tool, place a pry bar and pull it into place with the mallet.

Step 9: Stagger the Rows

Continue laying down each floorboard until the room is complete. For any irregular corners, try cutting the flooring with a jigsaw. It’s best not to have the seams line up, so stagger the rows.

Step 10: Reinstall the Baseboards

Many types of flooring come pre-finished, but if you choose an unfinished floor, be sure to sand it down, stain it and finish it. Finally, reinstall the baseboards when all the flooring is down.

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