There are a variety of methods for installing hardwood flooring. The nail down technique of laying hardwood floors has become very popular. For those learning how to install hardwood floor, there’s no simpler or straightforward technique than the nail down technique.
Unlike other methods which basically require you to be an amateur carpenter or even a professional carpenter, the nail down method on how to install hardwood flooring can be accomplished by anyone who can swing a hammer. Well, that’s not all it takes. You also have to be persistent, patient, and willing to try new things if you want to learn how to install hardwood floor. Also, you need to be willing to read the safety instructions that come with the tools you’ll be using.
Tools You’ll Need as Your Learn How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels
Broom and Dust Pan – You need to clean up constantly as you learn how to install hardwood floor to make sure no dirt, sawdust, or other debris get caught in between the grooves or under the boards.
Carpenter’s Crayon – Use this to create guidelines on your sub floor. You’ll also need it to draw lines where you’ll cut your hardwood panels.
Claw Hammer – Any areas near obstacles or walls where you can’t get enough space to swing a rubber mallet will have to be reached with your claw hammer.
Cutter Knife – Use this often for unforeseen activities involved as you learn how to install hardwood floor. But the main purpose of this device will be to cut out any excess wood when adjustments of only a millimeter or two need to be made.
Electric Drill and 3/32″ Drill Bit – Use this to drill your pilot holes, which should be slightly smaller in length and circumference than your nails. This will prevent your flooring panels from cracking when you put the nails in them.
Hardwood Flooring Nails (2″) – These nails are important because they will be what hold your floor in place.
Nailer – This can either be a hammer or pneumatic nail gun. The pneumatic nail gun is obviously faster and easier, but you have to get it calibrated just right so that the nails don’t go too far down into the wood and destroy your hardwood panels.
Rubber Mallet – This is your chance to pound your frustrations out as you learn how to install hardwood floor. Actually, you should pound them out gently to bring the surfaces of the two panels together perfectly. You don’t want to get them too far apart or your floor will have crevices. But if you pound them too hard together, you can damage them or push them so far together as to bow them.
Circular Saw – At the end of each row of boards as you go into the corner, you will need to cut your floor panels to fit. Any fixtures in the room will also have to be cut around.
Preparing to Install Hardwood Floor Panels
Although the nail down method of installing hardwood floor panels is pretty simple, it should still be done carefully as the hardwood floor has to endure for many years in whatever form you complete it.
All of the furniture and obstacles that can be removed from the room should be removed while you install your hardwood floor panels. This is true even if it requires manual dismantling and reassembly. For those fixtures build into the floor of the room, you’ll just have to panel around them. It’s not the easiest way to go, but you have to do what you have to do to get your hardwood floor installed. If you have door sills, an old hardwood floor, baseboards, or carpet, remove them before you begin as well.
If the surface beneath where you will be flooring is cement or any other lumpy material, use a felt floor liner to cover this surface. Then install a plywood sub-floor over it. Once laid, you should be ready to begin installing the hardwood floor.
Steps on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels
1. Put your first floor panel in the corner of the room in which you have decided to start your flooring. The grooves should be toward the wall and the tongues should be toward the room.
2. Start adding panels to make a row. The last panel shouldn’t quite fit right, so you’ll have to use that carpenter’s crayon to mark where to cut it. Use your circular saw to cut it. Be very careful not to cut it too small. The fitting needs to be just about perfect.
3. Use your drill to make your little pilot holes. Put the nails in to fasten your floor down. Though it will take longer, you’ll be thankful when you’re done if you used pilot holes when you’re learning how to install hardwood floor.
4. Grab the other half of the panel you cut off the row you just completed and use it as the starting point for the next row. This will seem strange at first, but when the floor is completed, the offset of the boards will look really nice. Additionally, if all of your boards matched up, the floor won’t have interlocked strength.
5. Continue on doing this as you go through the remaining rows. Use the rubber mallet as necessary to make the boards and rows nice and snug. When the rubber mallet won’t fit, use the claw hammer to pull the boards tight. The last things you need are some giant crevices between your boards when you’ve finished your new hardwood floor.
6. The last panel is the hardest one to get put in place, but your floor will look really awful if you hurry at this step. You need to patiently measure, cut, and make your last panel fit.
7. Clean the floor you just laid.
Cleaning Up After You Install Hardwood Floor Panels
In the process of how to install hardwood floors, cleaning up is important and overlooked enough to warrant its own follow-up section. But unlike other nail down method guides on how to install hardwood floor panels, we want to make sure you understand this step.
Cleaning up is important because there are little wood chips and saw dust everywhere after the typical hardwood floor installation. Use your broom and dust pan to pick up any debris on the floor. These particles, if walked on and rubbed on by furniture, can make your brand new floor look like a scratched up old floor pretty quickly.
Unless you went beyond the instructions on how to install hardwood floors and used glue on your hardwood panels, there’s no need to get your floor wet before it has had a chance to settle. This is because you don’t want it to swell before you’ve moved the furniture back in and given it a couple days to get itself in its final arrangement.
Special Tips Add-On on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels
Don’t get too aggressive when putting your hardwood flooring in place. It’s very easy to ruin the surface of floor panels when they’re floating freely and you’re placing them and pounding on them. Be especially careful when fixing a row that looks a little bit off.
If your rubber mallet is sturdy enough, it’ll be the best thing to put nails in because it won’t do as much damage to the surface of your floor panels.
Your nailed down floor probably isn’t going to be quite as nice as the one installed by a professional. On the other hand, it’s going to look pretty nice on its own. It will probably be about the nicest looking job an inexperienced hardwood floor installer can do. And if you change your mind about the floor, it’s one of the easiest hardwood floor installation methods to undo.
But besides being easy to install and uninstall, nailed down hardwood floor has some usage advantages over other types. The main advantage to keep in mind is that a glued down floor is rigid; once a floor panel is dried in place, it’s there for good whether it’s snug to the next panel over or not. The loose floor isn’t attached to anything and can be creaky, bubbly, and move around. So enjoy your new well-fixed hardwood floor.