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How to Install Solid Oak Flooring

Updated May 25, 2017

Solid wood flooring adds a feeling of warmth to rooms. For centuries, oak has been a favoured wood for floors because it is tough, strong, hard and durable. Solid oak flooring is 3/4 inch thick, which means it can be sanded and refinished many times. With proper care and maintenance, hardwood flooring can last 100 years or more.

Remove baseboard and shoe moulding, doors and floor-level trim that can be taken down. A small pry bar works well for removal without damaging walls.

Clean the subfloor of any dirt and debris, including thick paint or drywall mud splatters. Countersink nail and screw heads so that the subfloor is flat.

Open cartons of flooring material and let them "rest" in the room for 48 hours before beginning installation. This gives the material a chance to acclimate to the room's humidity and temperature.

Lay down a few boards to get a feel for the look of the wood. Wide variations in colour and grain can occur, so it's a good practice to mix boards and avoid patterns that could look like stains or discolourations. Remember that the floor will need to be installed perpendicular to the floor joists.

Measure and pencil-hash a perimeter 3/4 inch away from each wall. Snap a chalk line over the pencil hashes to make them more visible. Flooring will only be installed up to these lines to provide an expansion gap as solid wood will expand and contract with changes in humidity and temperature.

Place the first board with its tongue facing away from the wall (and toward the centre of the room). The groove on this board should be flush with one of the chalk lines.

Pre-drill nail holes 1/4 inch from the edge of the board, starting about 3 inches in from the end and space the holes about 12 inches apart. Stop about 3 inches from the other end of the board.

Hammer 7d nails into the pre-drilled holes and countersink them with a nail set. Cover the holes with wood filler or a wax stick.

Drive nails through the tongue at a 45-degree angle with the power nailer and 7d nails.

Butt the end of the second board in the first row against the end of the first board and repeat the process to complete the first row. The final board at the top and bottom of the row may need to be cut to fit properly. A circular or table saw will do the trick.

Start the second row with a board that is at least 6 inches longer or shorter than its neighbouring board. This will help stagger the seams as you install the flooring. Insert the groove on this board into the tongue of a board in the first row. Tap the board into place with a mallet. Secure the tongue with 7d finishing nails driven into place at a 45-degree angle with the power nailer.

Follow this process for each subsequent row until reaching the final row of boards.

Cut boards lengthwise if needed on the table saw or with a circular saw to fit the final row. Pre-drill nail holes 1/4 inch from the edge of the board, starting about 3 inches in from the end, and space the holes about 12 inches apart. Stop about 3 inches from the other end of the board.

Hammer 7d nails into the pre-drilled holes and countersink them with a nail set. Cover the holes with wood filler or a wax stick.

Warning

Wear safety glasses any time you drill, saw or hammer.

Things You'll Need

  • Pry bar
  • Power nailer with 7d nails
  • Chalk line
  • Saw (circular or table)
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • 7d nails
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver bit
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • Nail set
  • Wood filler or wax stick
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About the Author

Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a certified Master Naturalist, regularly monitors stream water quality and is the editor of freshare.net, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas.