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Léa Plourde-Archer
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How to Install Hardwood Floors

Last modified: 2019/08/08 | Approximate reading time 3 mins

Are you considering installing a hardwood floor in your home? Here is an overview of the different steps of the process, as well as some advice if you want to do-it-yourself.

Installing a hardwood floor can have a huge impact on your house: it can transform a room and increase the value of the building. Timeless and durable, hardwood floors are also popular due to the fact that they are known for their warmth and beauty.

It is recommended that you hire a professional for this type of renovation project. However, if you feel that you have the required manual skills, completing the installation process is quite accessible.

Laying the groundwork for the new hardwood floor

Installing a hardwood floor requires a certain amount of preparation, as well as a lot of patience.

The humidity level of the room will affect the success of the installation process. If the room is too humid, the wood will tend to expand, which will cause swelling. On the other hand, if the humidity is too low, the volume of the wood will decrease. Therefore, before you install the new floor, check the room’s humidity level. It is also recommended that you remove the wood from its packaging and to let it become acclimatized with the room’s atmosphere for around 72h.

When you install the floorboards, each one should be perpendicular to the windows, in order to dissimulate the joints. They should also be perpendicular to the door’s threshold to ensure a harmonious transition between rooms.

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Installing the hardwood floor

Before you start installing the floor, there are a few other things to do: if needed, remove the old floorboards, using a lever, and spread construction paper on the false floor. This construction paper will act as a vapour-barrier and will make things easier for you when you start installing the new floor.

Now, the installation process can start! Here are the 8 main steps to follow when installing a hardwood floor.

  • Tracing the main line
    Start by tracing a line, using chalk or a piece of string. You need to trace this line in order to make sure that your floor is straight. If the first row isn’t straight, the rest of your floor will be affected.
  • Installing the first floorboards on the main line
  • In order to complete this step, you have to choose boards that are both straight and long to make up your first row. Install the board’s tenon on the main line.
  • Pierce
    Pierce the holes, which will serve as guides, at ½ inch (12 mm) on one side of the board and repeat this process every 8 inches (232 mm). Once you have reached 2 inches (50 mm) from the board’s extremity, you can stop piercing holes. Plan a minimum of at least two holes per board.
  • Finishing the first row

In order to complete the installation of the first row, you must fasten the boards that are used in your first row. To do so, use 2 inch (50mm) finishing nails and a nail punch. Don’t forget to hide the nails using wood putty.

You should also insert spacers between the boards in the first row and the wall, in order to leave extra space if the wood starts dilating when the weather is hot and humid. Your baseboards will hide this extra space. 

  • Pierce at a 45-degree angle
  • Pierce a hole in the tenon, at a 45-degree angle. This hole will serve as a guide. Repeat this process every 8 inches (200mm) using nails. You must ensure that the head of the nail doesn’t push out.
  • Install the other rows
  • To install and nail your rows, use a nailing gun and a mallet. Nail the boards every 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) and every 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) on the end of each board. If the board is 5 to 8 inches long, you will have to nail it in at least two spots.
  • Organise the floorboards
  • It is extremely important to make sure that the floorboards are not perfectly aligned. With this in mind, you can alternate between shorter boards and longer boards when assembling the floor.
  • The last step
  • The final step of the hardwood floor installation process is the floor finish. This includes mouldings, baseboards and quarter rounds.

If you want to know more about renovating your house with the intent of selling it, check out our article Renovation projects that will increase the value of your house.

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