How to Install Hardwood Flooring

Choosing hardwood flooring over laminate gives you several distinct advantages: Knowing you're walking on the real thing will give you a real sense of pride in home ownership, and you can sand and finish as needed (impossible with laminate flooring that merely looks like wood) if the flooring ever becomes damaged or faded.

When it comes to selling your home, it's also a good deal more impressive to add real hardwood flooring to its list of amenities, as well. Although many people appreciate and are drawn to any type of flooring that looks like wood, those in the know are quick to note when authentic hardwood floors are being offered.

Skill Level Needed

Basic carpentry skills and a few specialized tools are needed in order to install hardwood flooring. And unless you are prepared to sand and finish, it's recommended to purchase hardwood flooring material that is pre-finished. Although pre-finished flooring may be somewhat more expensive, it will save you a huge amount of time and work.


You will need a pneumatic floor nailer (because this is rather expensive to purchase, we recommend renting one at your local big-box home-improvement store), a miter saw, and jamb saws besides other 'ordinary' tools such as a string line, hammer, and pry bar.

Getting Started

Remove baseboards (carefully, to avoid breakage) and lay down a layer of 15-pound builder's felt, overlapping the seams about four to six inches and taping them down to secure. As you lay out the wood, do it so that the planks run parallel to the longest wall, if possible.

Long pieces of wood should be placed near doorways and entryways, while shorter pieces should be spaced intermittently throughout the room. Around the perimeter of the room, spacers should be placed so that when the wood is installed, expansion and contraction can take place without fear of warping or damaging the baseboards once they are replaced.

Use a string line to ensure the first course of wood planks are installed straight. Place the planks so that the grooved edge is against the wall. With nails long enough to go into the sub-floor by at least one inch, nail through the planks so that nails are hidden beneath the baseboard. You will also need to angle in a nail every six to eight inches over the tongue.

The Main Work and Finishing Up

Continue installing the courses of planks, staggering the rows to avoid seams being continuous. Use a scrap block of wood and a hammer to tap planks into place. The pneumatic floor nailer should be used to blind-nail planks into the tongue edge. Fitting the last course of wood planks, pull them as tightly as possible using a pry bar. Nail this course at the edge so that nails are hidden beneath the baseboard.

That's it! Now, after you've replaced all the baseboards and repaired any nicks or dents you've put in them during removal, you've got a beautiful hardwood floor that will serve you with pride for years to come.

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