Lowe's Home Improvement
FREE PARCEL SHIPPING on Qualifying Orders

Install a Solid Hardwood Floor

Hardwood flooring adds warmth and beauty to any room. It’s also a great way to increase the value of your home. These instructions will show you how to install a ¾-inch-thick solid hardwood floor over a plywood subfloor.

Getting Started

  1. Bring the flooring into the room so the wood planks can acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity for at least 72 hours before installation. This reduces problems associated with moisture, such as warping and fit. Stack the flooring in a flat position in the room or rooms where it's to be installed.
  2. Check the moisture level of the subfloor to make sure the floor is within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If your moisture level isn't within the manufacturer’s recommendations, stop the installation and call a Lowe’s associate for assistance.
  3. Once you've prepped the subfloor, carefully sweep and vacuum the surface on which the flooring will be installed.
  4. Check the planks for warping and defects, which typically affect around 5% of the product. These boards are unusable and should be discarded. If you experience more than 5% defects, stop the installation and call a Lowe’s associate for assistance.
  5. Once your subfloor has met the moisture requirements, install a moisture barrier and underlayment, such as builder’s felt or rosin paper, as required by the manufacturer.
  • Install the moisture barrier and underlayment based on the manufacturer’s guidelines, typically by rolling out the underlayment in the same direction that the wood is being installed. Extend the underlayment a few inches up the wall (will be trimmed later).
  • A Lowe’s associate can tell you what type of moisture barrier and underlayment will work best for your materials; at least two-in-one underlayment is required.
Caution

Be sure to wear your safety glasses throughout the project.

Installing the First Rows

Instructions

Step 1

Using the straightest boards, lay the first row of flooring along the guideline, with the tongue side facing the room.

  • This will serve as a guide for the rest of the room or house.
  • It's important to use a tapping block so you don't damage the tongue-and-groove system.

 

Step 2

Place spacers between the flooring and the wall for the expansion gap.

  • Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate expansion gap.

Step 3

Face-nail the first row of boards in place with a hammer and a nail set.

  • Predrill the nail holes every 6 inches starting 1 to 3 inches from the ends of the planks and 1/2 inch from the groove.
  • Hammer the nails into the predrilled holes then use the nail set to countersink the nails.
  • Come back later and fill the holes with putty that matches the color of your floor.

Step 4

For the second row, fit the groove on the tongue of the first row.

  • Use the dead blow hammer and gently tap the tapping block against the flooring to ensure a tight fit.

Step 5

Place the second row so that the ends are at least 6 inches apart from the first row.

  • This will help strengthen the floor.
  • This will also give the floor a staggered look, so you may need to cut the first plank.
  • To cut the flooring, lay the plank on its face and cut with a circular saw.
    • Make sure you’re using the correct blade to cut the flooring.
    • Make sure you allow for the appropriate expansion gap.
  • Face-nail the second row like you did the first row.

Step 6

Repeat the process until you can use the pneumatic nail gun.

  • This is typically between two and four rows.

Installing the Rest of the Floor

Instructions

Step 1

When installing the rest of the floor, mix planks so you don't have patches of similar colors and grains. This will give the floor a more random pattern.

  • You'll need to work out of multiple cartons at a time.
Good to Know

 Dry-fit a few rows together before you install them to see how they look and to speed up the installation.

Step 2

 Install the rest of the floor by blind-nailing the planks.

  • Follow the pneumatic nailer manufacturer’s instructions for blind nailing. Typically, you hold the pneumatic nailer against the tongue of the plank and hit it with a hammer.
  • Make sure the nailer has a protective boot to prevent damaging the floor.
  • Check the manufacturer’s PSI (pounds per square inch) recommendations for the pneumatic nailer.
  • Nails should be spaced 1to 3 inches from the ends and every 6 to 8 inches along the tongue side of the plank.

Step 3

Continue laying the floor across the room, staggering the ends at least 6 inches apart.

  • Maintain the expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor.

Step 4

If you have vents or columns, cut the planks to fit.

Step 5

When you get to the last few rows where the pneumatic nailer won’t fit, face-nail the boards as you did when beginning the floor.

Step 6

For the last row, you may have to cut the pieces to fit.

  • Measure the distance to the wall from the last laid row. Don't measure from the tongue.
  • Subtract the manufacturer’s expansion gap and cut the last row.
  • To fit the last row, place a piece of scrap wood against the finish wall, and fit the boards together gently using a pry bar.
  • Then face-nail the last row like you did the first row. If the width of the last row is less than one inch, place glue on the tongue of the previous board and attach it.

Finishing Up

Instructions

Step 1

Once the last row is attached, install the transition pieces according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 2

When your transitions are in place, remove the spacers, trim the underlayment and install the baseboards and shoe moulding.

  • Attach the trim and shoe moulding to the walls, not the floor.

Step 3

Keep one to two cartons of your hardwood flooring so you can fix any potential problems in the future, like a damaged board.