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Mastering DIY Hardwood Floor Installation: Essential Tips

Posted on May 14, 2023


Ultimate Guide to DIY Hardwood Floor Installation

If you’re looking to add a touch of sophistication and durability to your home, hardwood flooring is an excellent choice. However, as with any DIY project, the success lies in the preparation. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through all the necessary steps to ensure a flawless finish to your hardwood floor installation project.

DIY Hardwood Floor Installation

Choosing the Right Wood for Your Floor

The first step in your hardwood floor installation journey is selecting the appropriate wood. Factors such as the room’s use, your budget, and your aesthetic preferences play a crucial role in this decision. You have a wide range of options, from finished and unfinished wood to distressed wood, parquet, solid, or engineered flooring. Each type offers different aesthetics and durability, so choose wisely.

Choosing Wood Floor

Preparation is key.

Once you’ve decided on the type of wood, the next step is setting aside some prep time. Proper preparation at the start of the job can mean the difference between a beautiful wood floor and a heart breakingly spoiled job. Here are the key steps to consider:

Understanding Your Sub-Floor

Before purchasing the wood, it’s advisable to note the direction of the joists in the sub-floor. Professionally laid real wood flooring is always laid in the opposite direction of the joists. This approach adds stability and helps prevent warping or bowing of the wood over time.

Assess your carpentry knowledge.

Installing a hardwood floor requires a basic understanding of carpentry. If you’re unsure about your skills, consider enlisting the help of a knowledgeable friend. Remember, laying floors may not be rocket science, but it does require skill and know-how.

Avoid Complexity

If you’re a wood floor rookie, steer clear of complex designs like decorative middle pieces, diagonals, and border edging. Start with a simple, straightforward design that you can handle confidently. With time and experience, you can progress to more intricate designs.

Getting Started with Installation

With the wood chosen and preparations complete, you’re ready to start the installation process. However, before you even think about nailing down a floorboard, there are a few more steps to complete:

Remove old floor coverings.

Ensure any previous carpeting, complete with tacks, staples, and nails, is completely removed. You may also wish to remove the vertical pieces of any door frames to make the installation process smoother.

Remove old floor coverings

Prepare the Subfloor

If your existing floor is concrete-based or if there are significant gaps in the original wood floor, you may need to lay a subfloor first. Neglecting this step can lead to an uneven finish, so it’s critical to address these preliminaries before laying the new floor.

Lay the Rosin Paper

Red rosin paper is a sheathing paper used for floors and roofing. It serves as a guide and a protective barrier against draughts and moisture. Staple the rosin paper directly onto the subfloor, marking base points on the paper. Then, connect the points together via a straight edge, allowing about 9½ mm from the base for the expansion of the boards during warmer weather.

Laying the Hardwood Floor

Now you’re ready to lay your hardwood floor. Here are step-by-step instructions to guide you:

1. Start Laying: Begin by laying your floor against the longest wall in the room. Place the end of the first board at the base mark you’ve drawn, fixing it in place with a hammer and a single nail.

2. Staple the Boards: Opt for a pneumatic staple gun to fix each board to the subfloor. However, be cautious with the gun’s setting to prevent damaging the wood fibres.

Hardwood Floor installation

3. Join the Boards**: Lay the next board end-to-end with the first one. Use a mallet to gently tap the two pieces together, ensuring they fit snugly. Remember, tight fitting is crucial for the floor to look good and last for years.

4. Proceed Methodically: Carry on methodically, carefully attaching each board. Be patient and meticulous, as rushing can lead to mistakes and imperfections.

5. Fit the Last Board: When the floor is almost complete, the last piece of board will likely need to be cut to fit. Recall the old carpenter’s adage – measure twice, cut once! Use a special carpentry crayon to accurately mark where you will make the cut. If you have access to a circular saw, it will provide a fine, professional finish to your floor.

Finishing Touches

Once your hardwood floor is installed, the final step is to add the finishing touches. This includes adding baseboards and transitions, filling any gaps with wood filler, and applying a sealant or finish, if necessary.

If you’ve chosen prefinished wood, your work is done once the floor is laid. However, if you’ve opted for unfinished wood, you’ll need to sand the floor to smooth out any imperfections and then apply a finish to protect the wood and enhance its natural beauty.


Installing a hardwood floor is a significant DIY project, but with careful preparation and a patient, methodical approach, you can achieve a beautiful, professional-looking result. Remember, preparation is the key to success in any DIY task. So, take the time to understand the process, gather your materials, and prepare your workspace before starting.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIYer or a woodworking novice, this guide should equip you with the knowledge and confidence to install a hardwood floor that will stand the test of time, enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal, and increase its value. Happy DIY-ing!

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