How to Lay Wood Flooring

Wood flooring is prized for its beauty and durability. Learning how to lay wood flooring makes it possible to have these beautiful floors in any room in the house. Because wood will expand and contract with humidity levels, before learning how to lay wood flooring the wood should be left in the home for a few days in order to adjust to the humidity level present in the home.

The wood should be installed on a stable, level subfloor that is in good condition, and should be laid perpendicular to the joists. Marking the locations of the joists as a reference is a helpful step in learning how to lay wood flooring.

Prep Work

Any baseboard or door trim, as well as thresholds, should be removed prior to laying the floor. The subfloor should then be covered with 15 pound asphalt felt to insure that there will be no floor squeaks once the wood has been laid.

The next preparation step in how to lay wood flooring is to lay out a few rows of boards staggered so that the end joints are 6" or more away from the end joints in the next row. When the wood strips are installed, cut wood pieces to fit at the end of the rows. A ½" gap should be left at the wall. A miter saw or a radial arm saw are the best saws to use when cutting the boards.

Nailing Down the Wood

One tip in how to lay wood flooring is to make a few chalk lines directing the board placement to ensure straight lines. Once this is done, lay the first board down with the tongue facing out from the wall. Using flooring nails, nail the first board 1 inch away from the grooved edge.

Drive the nails straight into the top of the board, preferably after pre-drilling nail holes. Pre-drilling will reduce the risk of splitting the boards. Make sure to keep the boards aligned with the chalk lines.

To learn how to lay wood flooring with a professional result, make sure that the floor is not full of nail indentations that will detract from the look of the wood. To keep nail indentations from showing, finishing nails should not be nailed flush with the wood when blind nailing with a hammer.

Leave the nail heads projecting up about 1/8". Place a nail set sideways over it along the upper tongue edge and use a hammer to tap the nail set. Then use the nail set tip to recess the nail head until it is flush with the board.

Nailing Pattern

Nail the starting strip through the tongue. The first few rows will need to be blind nailed at a 40 degree angle into the tongue edge and then countersunk with a nail set. After the first few rows, a power floor nailer, which can be rented from most home improvement stores, can be used to make the job go faster.

Seven or eight rows of boards should be laid out end to end, making sure to use a staggered pattern with the end joints 6" or more apart. An important point with how to lay wood flooring is to make sure that the board lengths should be distributed evenly, with long and short boards alternated. There should not be any clusters of short boards to break up the random-length pattern. Pieces will need to fit within ½" of the wall.