How to Install a Hardwood Floor - DIY Guidelines from Hardwood Experts – Gaylord Flooring

How to Install a Hardwood Floor: Do-it-Yourself Guidelines


At Gaylord Hardwood Flooring we pride ourselves on having some of the best flooring installers in the country. In fact, we have more NWFA (National Hardwood Flooring Association) certified installers than any other flooring company in Canada. Although most of our customers take advantage of our professional installation services, we understand that some people are the do-it-yourself type. So let’s look at a few tips on how to install a hardwood floor.


Tigerwood Hardwood Flooring


If you’re considering doing your own hardwood flooring installation, we’ll assume you have a working knowledge of construction principals and are adept with power tools. We’ll also assume you’ve done your research on how to properly handle hardwood flooring, including acclimation and moisture testing. If not, this is definitely not a job you should tackle. For the example situation, we’ll talk about installing ¾” solid hardwood to a prepared wood-based subfloor in an on-grade room. The subfloor has been properly prepared and is flat, free of squeaks, well screwed down and rigid enough for the hardwood you’ve chosen, and it is clean.

Tip* Hardwood flooring will only lie as uniformly as the subfloor.

Hardwood flooring must be installed perpendicular to the floor joists or on a diagonal for any single layer subfloor. To run parallel to the joists, you’ll need to add a 1/2” plywood underlayment or brace every 16” between joists with a nominal 2”x 6” SPF nailed in place. Before installing the hardwood you need to lay down Aquabar “B” 30/30/30 underlayment using a 3” over-lap. This will minimize moisture transfer from the subfloor to the wood floor.

Establishing A Starting Point

Select a starting point based on the most aesthetically or architectural important element in the room, taking into consideration stairways, hallways, fireplaces, cabinets, adjoining floors, transitions, the squareness of the room, etc. Often, the starting point is the longest, unbroken wall, however, using a spline allows you to start wherever you choose. We recommend starting in the centre of the room because this will reduce the pressure of the floor, as it won’t all be pushing in one direction.

Let’s Start Nailing

Once the starting point is established, secure a backer board to the subfloor and start nailing. We recommend using 2” cleats, 1-2” from board ends, and 6-8” apart with a minimum two cleats per board. Around the perimeter of room, allow ¾” on the width and ¼” on the length for expansion.

Tip* If using pneumatic nailer/stapler, air pressure must be set so the fastener doesn’t drive in too deep and crack the tongue.

Let’s say we are using a centre of the room starting point for our example. Rack out at least five rows of flooring to find the most aesthetically pleasing look. The tongues will be facing the wall. You’ll want no joints closer than three times the width of the boards, and avoid H joints and a stair-step effect from not completing rows. Start by butting the first row of boards (groove side) up to the backer board and begin nailing. Proceed with the installation until there is insufficient room to use the floor nailer. Next, remove the backer board. Glue the groove then insert a spline and fasten the piece with the floor nailer. Continue the installation in the other direction until there is insufficient room to use the nailer.

*Tip As you progress, check your straightness with a string or laser.

Wide Plank White Oak Flooring

Finishing the Last Rows

Treat the last rows as you would a floating floor installation by gluing the boards together at the tongue and groove. As well, brad nail or hand nail the boards in place. Face nail the last row only if baseboards or quarter round will hide it.

Tip* Never glue the last rows to the subfloor because this prevents hardwood floor from expanding.

Hardwood flooring is an investment you want to protect and a level of skill is necessary to properly install it. With the Gaylord Install, we take care of everything for you while warranting both the flooring and the installation.

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