I hesitated writing a post on installing hardwoods because I’m far from an expert. At this point, I’ve only installed two rooms so far in my DIY journey, our living room and bonus room. BUT, the more I thought about it, the more I realized this would be the perfect time to write a post on installing hardwoods yourself and share with you all the things I wish I knew before, things I found helpful and what I learned along the way. With that said, please do your own research!
If you have been thinking about tackling your own hardwoods, this post is for you! And short answer is, “YES”, you can do this yourself!
Tips For Installing Hardwoods Yourself
I’ve had this post planned for so long and I finally got around to doing the final little touches in the room so I can share alllll the steps with you! Again, I’m not an expert but I found all of these key details important and good ones to know if you plan on doing then yourself.
SUPPLIES FOR INSTALLING HARDWOODS
- Hardwood selection
- Quarter round to match your hardwoods
- Pneumatic Flooring Gun (linking the one I have)
- Air Compressor
- Rubber Mallet (mine came with my flooring gun)
- 2″ Flooring Staples
- Underlayment for Hardwoods
Steps for Installing Hardwoods
Let me start off by saying that I encourage you to do your own research before installing your own hardwoods. I did a TON of research. My brother also helped me with the first room so we learned a lot together.
Pick Your Flooring
You will need to think about the type of flooring you are installing; engineered hardwoods, solid hardwoods, tongue & groove, etc. Also, what type of installation does the flooring require? Some flooring requires you to glue it down, others will be floating (literally just clicked together), others will be stapled. Most flooring will give you a few options but a lot of them are pretty specific.
Both hardwoods I installed I was able to staple down and that was super easy!
Let Your Flooring Acclimate
When your flooring arrives, bring it inside to acclimate to your home. It’s important to let it sit inside your home for 48-72 hours before you install it because the wood can expand with different levels of humidity. Again, do your own research based on the flooring you picked out. Based on what I read, engineered flooring should be inside for a minimum of 48 hours and solid hardwoods will need to be longer, 72 hours.
Remove Your Old Flooring & Prep Floors
In both rooms I installed hardwoods, I removed old carpet. Honestly, it took like 30 minutes max, so I highly recommend you do it yourself to save money. Then you will just need to pull up the tack strips and clean up the flooring.
Let’s talk trim! If you plan on replacing your trim remove it now. If you plan on keeping your trim, you have to decide if it’s worth removing it so you can put it back on and cover the raw edges of the flooring, or if you have nice trim, you can keep it on but will use quarter round to go around the edges after you are done. (this is what we did)
I don’t have experience installing over existing floors, so you will have to look elsewhere for that!
Lay Down Underlayment
Once your floors are clean and clear, you will need to lay down an underlayment to go under your hardwoods. I picked up this Underlayment and used it for both rooms I did and it worked great.
My only tip is to be careful on the seams. This is a thicker underlayment, so if you overlap the seams at all it will cause your hardwoods to push up a little bit. Every 1/8″ makes a difference! You want it as flat as possible.
PS. you don’t want any wrinkles in it like the picture, I straightened those out!
Where To Start Installing Your Hardwoods?
Since you put the staples into the side with the “tongue”, you want to start by pushing the “groove side” against the wall. If your walls are not level or straight, you want to make sure your hardwoods are. So don’t always assume you can just push them against the wall and they will be straight. Remember your first row will dictate how the whole room pans out.
There are several different tutorials online on how to make sure your first row is straight, I suggest looking a few of them up!
You also have to think about what direction you want your flooring. How you run your floors could make your room feel larger or smaller.
Laying Your Hardwoods
After your floors are clear, you have your underlayment down, it’s time to start installing the hardwoods. Buying my own Pneumatic Flooring Gun was 100% worth it versus renting it. If you are doing your whole house or plan on doing at least a few rooms, buy your own! Also, the flooring gun, hooks up to an air compressor! Make sure you have one of those!
Start with laying your first few pieces and connect them together. The key is to get them as snug as possible and tap them together until you don’t see any gaps.
My brother built these wood blocks out of 2X4’s to use as a tool to help push the blocks together. The wood creates a barrier between the hardwoods and the mallet, protecting the edges from getting damaged.
Now remember, when you use the flooring gun, the pressure of the staple with help bridge some of those gaps. So don’t fret over a tiny 1/8″ that you can’t seem to close. Typically once I stapled the piece down the force would close it.
I typically would hammer in 2-3 pieces at a time and then nail them down.
When you hit the flooring gun, you want to give it a BIG HIT. No soft little ones or else that staple won’t go in all the way and you will have to remove it. Trust me, I had to take a few out and it wasn’t fun!
When you get to the end, you will likely have to cut the last piece so it will fit. I used my chop saw and it was easy.
Plan Out Your Planks
When laying your next row, you want to be cautious of how your planks are lining up. You’ll want to space out the seams so they are staggered. I like to make sure the seams are at least 4-6″ apart. Sometimes it was less, but this was a general guideline.
And repeat until the room is finished!
Securing the Last Few Rows
When you get down to the last 2 rows, you won’t be able to staple them because there won’t be enough clearance between the wall and the gun to be able to use it properly. So what do you do?
You can either use flooring glue to secure the pieces and/or nail from the top with a brad nailer. Then you will just have to fill the holes. If you get close enough to the wall they will likely be covered by the quarter round.
Finishing With Quarter Round
If you didn’t take your moulding off, like us, then you will want to finish up the job by installing quarter round on the edges to make it look polished.
I used my Chop Saw to cut the right angles at 45 degrees, it was really easy.
We have rounded outside corners, so for those outside angles you cut at 22.5 degrees to go around the outside.
I chose to paint my quarter round black to match my trim, but you could also use quarter round that matches you flooring perfectly and leave it. It’s a personal preference.
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Here’s a quick video of the install!
I am really happy with how both of our rooms turned out and I am so glad I did it myself. It was tedious, but worth it. Both rooms took about 3-4 days to complete from start to finish (removing carpet, cleaning, installing, finishing) touches).
You can tour more of our bonus room here!
If you have any other questions, I’m happy to try and answer them!