So you’ve finished you’re preparations and you’re ready to know how to lay hardwood floor. The wood you’ve chosen has been acclimatized and the floor is level, clean and the underlay is down. Now for the fun part. The floor starts to come together – with a little elbow grease on your part of course.

You’re on Stage B!

Stage A: Preparation – See INSTALLATION GUIDE

Stage B: Laying the Floor
               Step 4: First boards and rows
               Step 5: General laying procedure
               Step 6: Special maneuvering
               Step 7: Final rows

Stage C: Finishing Touches – See INSTALLATION GUIDE

Before reading the instructions below check out this video on how to lay hardwood floor:

Stage B: Step 4 – First Boards and Rows

The most important thing to keep in mind – the first row must be straight! Get this right and your project will be on its way to success.

With ‘straight as an arrow’ in mind here’s how to lay hardwood floor…

  • Chalk line should be used to snap your guideline – 3/8-inch away from the wall (usually starting from the longest, straightest wall in the installation area). This space will be your expansion area for changes in the wood with changes in temperature – don’t worry your baseboard/moulding or quarter round will cover it.
  • Your first board should be a long and straight one. Use your chalk line guide placing the ‘groove’ side of the board facing the wall. This first row will be the most awkward to nail since you’ve got the wall there but getting the first row right is essential. You can also drill pilot holes into the plank and into the sub-floor and joist for this and the rest of the first row.
  • Get out your handy flooring nailer, prepped and ready for action. Nails should be placed every 10 to 12 inches with minimum 2 nails in every board, more for longer boards. Nail into the ‘tongue’ of the flooring board.

Step 5: General Laying Tips

  • Once the first row is set it’s pretty smooth sailing, you just want to make sure you choose your boards carefully, looking at their color variations and length. Staggering the boards is important not only for the final look of the floor but also for its overall strength. This means making sure the ends of the boards don’t match up to the rows next to them. Choose varying lengths of boards to start your rows and as you go along – just make sure your first board is fairly long.
  • Fit the boards together, tongue and groove, snugly fit using a mallet to tap them if needed.
  • At the end of the row, if the board ends don’t match up exactly, don’t worry. You can cut them later.

Step 6: Special Maneuvering

You are likely to come across some obstacles along the way. Knowing how to lay hardwood floor in closets, additional rooms, doorways and hallways are just a few of the common ones. No sweat! With a few cuts you can fit the pieces of the puzzle and the result will be something you can take pride in.

*From your preparation planning you’ve hopefully already thought about these obstacles and how they’ll affect your installation. For example: Direction of the boards is usually lengthwise down hallways since it’s more pleasing to the eye and it’s simply easier to install. This may mean changing direction of the boards for adjoining rooms.

Step 7: Final Rows

You’ve probably been working so hard that you’ve not yet realized you almost have a completed floor! Take a look and admire your work.

The main thing to remember is that the final row should have another 3/8-inch expansion gap, just like the first row.

You’re making progress but not quite done with how to lay hardwood floor. Just a suggestion, but skimping on materials or trying to cut corners may lead to a project that becomes a much bigger headache than you had hoped.

For the next steps including the final touches, click back to the Hardwood Floor Installation guide. If you’re sanding and finishing the floor yourself check out Refinishing tab at the left. By the way, congrats on getting this far – take a break to give yourself a pat on the back!

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