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Install Nail-Down Solid Wood Flooring:
Laying the Wood Floor


This section, is designed to answer the following:

  • Where do I start laying my floor?
  • How do I nail the first few rows?
  • Should I use nails or cleats?
  • How should I select the boards to lay a pleasing pattern?
  • What do I do when I hit the far wall?

NOTE: This is not meant to replace a professional installer, but rather this information is designed to help our customers understand the process and offer some guidance to those that wish to install the flooring themselves. Please read the section on a proper subfloor for a hardwood floor first.

Where do I start laying down my flooring?

Pick the longest, most visible wall to start your installation. Start by laying down a chalk line 1/2" from the wall and extent it the full length. This is where your first row of flooring will go.

Bring in a drawing of your layout and we will be pleased to make a recommendation. It is hard to cover all bases using this written word. Remember for maximum performance strip flooring must be nailed down at opposite directions to the floor joists.

How do I nail down the first row?

The nailer hits the starting wall so I can't use it, so the first row must be face nailed (from the top surface of the wood down), with the groove facing the wall and the tongue side facing the room. You must predrill a hole into the wood, close to the groove side, then using a 2" spiral finishing nails, attach the flooring securely to the subfloor, following along your chalk line.

Nail holes can later be filled with a putty stick. These nail holes end up being very close to the baseboard, so they are rarely visible. Use the longest, straightest boards for the first row.

Once they have been nailed in place, go back and nail the same boards through the tongue, predrilling and nailing at an angle. Be sure to set the nail down as close to the surface of the flooring as possible, before you use a punch. Punches have a habit of slipping off the nail and leaving a hole in your new floor. Use them cautiously.

How do I nail the next few rows?

The next couple of rows, that is until the nailer can fit in place without hitting the wall, must be predrilled through the tongue and hand nailed as above. Remember to set the nail down low enough so that it does not interfere with the tight installation of the next board.

What kind of nails do I use, how many and where?

All 3/4" strip flooring should be nailed down using 2" cleats or nails. The actual brand name of the nails, will have to be compatible with the nailer you are using. Miss-matched nails and nailer can cause the machine to jamb and damage the driver head.

A nail should be set into each floor joist, assuming 16" spacing and an additional nail between each pair. This should result in a spacing of every 8" to 10" as recommended by the National Flooring Association.

Never nail too close to the end of the board or it will split, but nail all boards within 3"of the end to prevent squeaking. Each board must have a minimum of two nails each.

How do I decide which pieces of flooring should go where?

You are trying arrange all your flooring across the room evenly distributing the various colours and lengths of boards. Lay out multiple rows ahead of the person that is nailing and you will be able to tell by looking at it, if the distribution is pleasing. Remove any boards you are unhappy with and use them in a closet.

Never cluster darker boards under a bed. The bed may get moved later on! Assure that no two boards end in the same place. Alter lengths, to stager joints 6" apart.

Should I inspect the flooring before I lay it down?

YES! As you arrange it for good colour and length distribution, inspect each piece for defects. Some manufacturers are careful in cutting out any damage, but humans are sorting the wood and can miss a piece. Some defects don't always show up right away, and develop in transit, so all manufacturers put the responsibility on the installer to do the final inspection at the job site. How much "defective material" a flooring product will have is dependent on the grade and manufacturer.

At Lacasse Fine Wood Products, we put our money where our mouth is and guarantee you that you will not have more than 2% wastage due to manufacturing problems in a MIRAGE hardwood flooring, or we will buy back the defective flooring.

In all the years of dealing with Mirage flooring, experience has taught us that this is a safe bet.

What do I do when I hit the end of a row?

If you can find a piece of flooring that is just the right size then that's great, otherwise pick a piece that is at least 12" longer than you need. Cut what you need to complete the row you are working on and take the left over section down to the other end and use it to start the next row.

You'll notice that the cut end sits tightly against the wall. In this way you generate no waste and the cut section is long enough to use effectively as the first piece in your next row.

It is not necessary to leave a gap on the ends of the rows as wood very rarely changes length, with changing humidity. It only expands and contracts across the width of the boards.

Can I reverse the direction of the flooring?

Yes! Insert a properly sized strip of wood or plywood into the groove side of the piece of flooring. Nail it into place as you would in any other situation. Continue as before. This is great if you want to back into a closet, or bedroom off both sides of a hallway.

What do I do when I hit the far wall?

The last 2 or 3 rows will have to be hand nailed in the same way as you started the floor. Often the last row will not fit a full strip of flooring. You must cut to width enough flooring to hand nail the last row, leaving enough space that when all is said and done there remains a 1/2" expansion space between the wall and the wood.


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