How to Fit Oak Flooring

Written by kevin mcdermott
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There are many ways to install oak flooring---nailing, gluing, and even "floating'' the floor unattached. However you do it, though, it's important not to start laying boards without knowing how they're going to "land'' on the other end of the room. If you work your way all across the room with your flooring rows, and you discover only then that the last row is going to be 1 inch wide, it will be difficult to install and will look out of proportion with the rest of the floor. Fit your floor before you lay it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Chalk snapline (a tool that uses chalk-covered string to make straight lines)
  • Table saw
  • Mitre saw

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  1. 1

    Use your hammer and pry bar to remove the floor trim throughout the room. Remove it carefully so you can re-use it later.

  2. 2

    On the longest wall, measure out from the wall by 1/4 inch and make a pencil mark on the floor. Do the same thing every few feet along the wall.

  3. 3

    Stretch your snapline along the pencil marks. Make sure the line isn't closer to the wall than any of the marks. (If the wall is uneven, the line may be slightly farther from the wall than some of the marks.) Snap the line.

  4. 4

    Follow the same process on the other three walls, laying parallel lines 1/4 inch from each wall.

  5. 5

    Stretch your tape measure across the room, measuring the space between the two lines. Divide the number by the width of a floorboard, to determine how much space will be left over after the final full row of flooring. (Example: If the floorboards are 3 inches wide, and the space between the lines is 301 inches wide, then it means you'll have 100 full-width boards, and an additional 1 inch of space left over at the end.)

  6. 6

    Take the width of the final row and add it to the width of a full floorboard (i.e., the 1 inch of the last row, plus the 3 inches of a full board, equals 4 inches). Divide that number in half (2 inches, in this case). This is the width that both your starting and finishing rows should be.

  7. 7

    Use your table saw to cut the boards lengthwise ("`rip'') for the first row at the width of your measurement. Rip from the side of the board that has a milled "groove'' in it, so that you're left with just the side that has a milled "tongue'' on it.

  8. 8

    Install the first row with the cut side sitting on the snapline and facing the wall, and the tongue side facing out into the room.

  9. 9

    Clip the ripped boards together at the ends, cutting the end pieces as needed on your mitre saw so that they sit on the line that's 1/4 inch from the wall.

  10. 10

    Secure the boards according to your flooring system (nailing, gluing, or letting them sit unattached as part of a "floating'' system). Work your way across the room, attaching the boards to each other by their tongue-and-groove milling.

  11. 11

    For the final row, rip the boards to the width that you determined at the beginning. This time, rip off the tongue side. Connect the groove side to the second-to-last row, with the cut side of the last row sitting on the snapline and facing the wall. Secure the last row according to your flooring system.

  12. 12

    Re-install the floor trim to cover the gaps at the walls.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection when cutting your floorboards.

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