Hardwood floors can add quality and value to nearly any room in the house. Though there’s no substitute for an experienced professional, you, too, can install hardwood floors with a little elbow grease and ingenuity. Take a cue from the experts at Don Dickel Floors and follow these instructions to install new hardwood flooring.

Step 1) Remove all base trim and undercut all door jambs. Sweep or vacuum the subfloor.

Step 2) Establish a starting point. (Pro tip: starting parallel to the longest wall will give you the best visual effect, as long as the subfloor is free from sagging). If a moisture retardant is used, overlap the seams by 2-6 inches.

Step 3) Measure the room across from where you want to start. Check the manufacturer’s recommended expansion for the product you are installing. Measure back from the wall that distance and snap a chalk line.

Step 4) The first two rows should be long straight boards. Lay the first row on the chalk line. Predrill the first row. (Pro tip: if you nail the first row behind the base trim line, you won’t see the hole the nail makes.) Then blind nail the same board and the second board. Nailing should be 8-10 inches apart, closer for wider boards.

Step 5) “Rack” (lay) the floor. When laying out the floor, the end joints should be 6 inches apart. (Pro tip: for the best appearance, open the boxes and lay out the floor 10 rows at a time. Remove the boards you don’t like.)

Step 6) Install the floor. (Pro tip: you are the final inspector of the wood. Check all pieces for dents or finish irregularities before you nail it down). Begin flooring installation with several boards at a time, nailing every 8-10 inches and 1 1/2 inches from the ends. (Pro tip: if you come across a board that is warped and doesn’t want to fit, tip your nailing gun a little and hit it. That should bring the board in.)

Step 7) The final rows that can’t be blind nailed will need to be top nailed. Predrill the hole with a bit slightly smaller than the nail, then nail it to ensure holding power (an 8d finishing nail is recommended). (Pro tip: always make sure your cuts extend close enough to the wall to be covered by the base molding.) Rip the last row so there is proper expansion parallel to the end wall. If it is less than 1 inch, glue it to the board preceding it.

Step 8) Install the base molding. Clean the floor and enjoy. (Pro tip: check with the manufacturer for cleaning instructions. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for best results.)

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