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How to Install a Prefinished Hardwood Floor

Above: Your First Board

Want a great way to increase the value of your home? Install a hardwood floor! The following steps will remove the doubt and fears you may have of taking on this task by yourself. By doing it yourself you will not only save money but have the satisfaction of looking at a floor installed by You!

Things You'll Need

  • Floor Nail gun
  • Square
  • Chalk line
  • Hammer
  • Table saw
  • chop saw (mitre saw)

Shopro Professional 4-Piece Cutting Tool Set

Shopro Professional 4-Piece Cutting Tool Set

More cutting tools


  1. Purchase a wood that will give you the right look for your space. (be prepared for delivery of a very heavy large stack of wood if you are doing more than one room)
  2. Store the wood in the space you will be installing at least 2 weeks prior to actually starting the install. This give the wood a chance to expand and contract based on the humidity and temperature of the space.
  3. Removal of old floor. Remove the old floor down to the sub-floor. This will prevent having different "levels" of flooring across the space where you will be installing. remove as many nails, tacks, etc. as possible for best results.

Old hardwood floor

  1. Start by snapping a chalk line across your sub floor. Measure out from the wall the distance of one floor board plus 1/8 to 1/4 inch expansion room (you can use a scrap piece of luon or other thin wood material against the wall to use as a spacer ) - See "Your First Board" image above.
  2. Begin with the longest, straightest wall; using the longest, straightest floor boards you have. It is very important that the first few floor boards you lay down are perfectly straight across the room, this prevents your floor from looking crooked or slanted across the room.
  3. Use spiral nails at an angle on the first few boards.

Face nail, (using finish nails) then angle nail the first few boards you install. This will keep your very first boards straight (and using a floor nail gun won't fit between the first boards and the wall)

  1. Check for square early and often. Check your work as you continue, use a square if you have a good reference point.

  1. Undercut trim

Use a jamb saw to undercut trim pieces.


Old removed carpet can be useful.

Pieces of carpet are useful to rest your tools (and knees)


  • Check your sub floor condition. It should be level and free from rot and other major defects; you may need to use leveling compound to even your surface. As a rule of thumb, the floor boards you install should cross perpendicular to the joists under the sub floor. (If the sub floor above is more than 1 inch thick this rule can be bent in many cases)
  • Some walls may not be square or straight, make sure you keep this in mind when starting the first floor board.

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