How to Fit Real Wood Floors

Many styles of flooring are available for your home. However, a wood floor is hard to beat with its warmth, charm and beauty. The key to a terrific floor installation is an excellent subfloor underneath. Any problems with the subfloor will be visible on the finished floor. A high-quality real wood floor can last a lifetime with the proper care. With that in mind it is better to use a pre-finished floor since the finish can be baked on and can come with a 15-, 25-, or 50-year warranty on the finish.

Inspect the subfloor before starting the real wood flooring installation. Make sure there is a layer of 13.6kg. felt paper tacked down. Walk the entire floor listening for any squeaks or other noises. Address these if needed before you start laying the floor.

Pick the direction you want the flooring to run in the room. Generally the flooring runs in the long direction of the room. This tends to make the room seem bigger than it is. Pick the wall to start your flooring installation. Measure the room width at both ends and make a mark on the felt paper for the exact centre of the room. Snap a chalk line between the marks. This is the centre line of the room. Measure from the centre line to the starting wall but subtract the width of the flooring you are using plus 1/4-inch. Mark this dimension at both ends of the starting wall. Snap a chalk line between the lines. This makes a line to start your flooring installation on while leaving a 1/4-inch gap for expansion and contraction of the real wood flooring.

Pick your longest pieces of flooring for the first row. Pre-drill a hole in the flooring 3/4-inch in from the groove side along the entire board 16-inches apart. The drill bit needs to be the size of your finish nails or slightly smaller. This will keep the board from splitting when nailed. Place the first board along the chalk line at the far left of the room. Leave a 1/2-inch gap from the wall on your left. Nail the board down using finish nails in the pre-drilled holes. Use a nail set to drive the head of the nail slightly below the surface of the flooring. Continue down the length of the wall with the longest pieces, following the same procedure. Using the longest boards helps to ensure that the first row is perfectly aligned.

Start the next row with a short piece of flooring. Use a scrap piece of flooring as a tapping block to get a tight fit between rows. Use a pneumatic nail gun to shoot a nail in the tongue of the flooring at a 45-degree angle along the length of the board 16 inches apart. Leave the 1/4-inch gap around the room. You will need to cut the last section of flooring with a mitre saw to fit.

Stagger each row of flooring so that no two boards end at the same place. When you are far enough away from the wall to use a pneumatic flooring nail gun, set the floor nail gun against the tongue of the flooring and strike the piston cap of the nailer with a 2.27kg. rubber mallet. This taps the flooring tight against the last row then shoots a flooring nail into the tongue at a 45-degree angle that is just below the surface of the floor.

Finish the flooring installation for the remainder of the floor in the same fashion, always staggering the length of the boards.


Wear knee pads to protect your knees.


Wear safety glasses when using power tools.

Things You'll Need

  • 13.6kg. felt paper
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Drill with bit
  • Finish nail
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Tapping block
  • Pneumatic nail gun
  • Nails for gun
  • Pneumatic flooring nail gun
  • 2.27kg. rubber mallet
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About the Author

Jim Wildman served in the United States Marine Corps as a Communication Chief for 10 years. After his tour of duty in Desert Storm he attended Oklahoma State University receiving his Bachelor of Architecture. He worked as an architect for 10 years before starting his own design/build company. He began writing in 2009 for Demand Studios and published on eHow.