Installing a hardwood floor takes advanced handyman skills, but with the right planning, prep, and tools, most experienced DIYers can handle the job. Decide if you’re up to the challenge by first taking a skill level assessment. If you’re ready, then start by making a checklist of everything you need to complete the project. The steps below will help make the task easier.
Step-by-Step Hardwood Floor Installation
Step 1 – Choose your floor
Wood floors come in a wide variety of species in both solid and engineered construction. Engineered hardwood makes a versatile floor that can be nailed, glued, or floated over an existing floor. Solid hardwood flooring is typically nailed or glued to the substrate.
Step 2 – Measure your room
Measure the length and width of your room and multiply the numbers to determine the square footage. Add 10-15% of that number to account for waste and cuts.
Step 3 – Prep the room
Before beginning your hardwood floor installation, acclimate the boards to the room for at least a week. Next, remove the trim and molding around the perimeter of the room. Finally, walk on the floor or subfloor, listening for squeaks. If you find any loose boards, run a long screw through the subfloor into the joist below to secure the board.
Step 4 – Install a quality underlayment
The underlayment acts as a moisture-inhibitor to slow the rate of moisture movement in wood. A quality underlayment will reduce or prevent cupping or other moisture-related problems.
Step 5 – Arrange layout
Installing boards perpendicular to floor joists maximizes stability, but boards running parallel to a room’s longest wall look best. All wood flooring expands and contracts, so leave a gap around the perimeter of the room.
Step 6 – Installation
The first row sets the pace for the rest of the floor, so make sure the end cuts are square and the boards are in perfect alignment. Install one complete row at a time. Board color varies from box to box just slightly, so pull from different boxes every time.
Step 7 – Finishing
Install trim and molding, so that the expansion gap is completely covered.
From start to finish, a hardwood floor installation typically takes 3 – 5 days. Plan ahead so that your new hardwood floor will provide many years of beauty and durability.