How to Install Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a nice touch in any room of your home. For those who want to tackle this do-it-yourself project, prefinished boards are an easy shortcut to take. This will eliminate the need to finish the entire floor after installation, saving you time and effort.

Prepare the Sub-Floor in Order to Install Hardwood Floors

  1. Pull up your carpet or soft flooring to prepare for the hardwood floors. Start at a corner using pliers or pry bar.
  2. Remove the tack bar that is around the perimeter of the room.
  3. Take out any staples that may be left in the floor from your carpet. Use pliers to pull them out, taking care not to hurt yourself.
  4. Use a glue-dissolving solvent to remove residue if your carpet had been glued down.
  5. Sweep the floor.
  6. Install oriented strand board (OSB) on your sub-floor. This layer, also called waferboard, is a less expensive alternative to plywood. A standard staple gun can be used to attach OSB to the sub-flooring.
  7. Lay down sheets of red rosin paper to cover the OSB. This one-ply paper is used frequently in home improvement projects involving roofs and floors. Staple it down as well.

Install Hardwood Floors in Your Home

  1. Use chalk or a pencil and mark where the joists are. Joists are beams that support the floor.
  2. Measure about 3/8 inch out from the baseboard and draw a line. Hardwood may expand in warm weather or contract in the cold. Stopping your flooring at this point will allow for the change in the wood.
  3. Find the longest wall that is straight as your starting point. Place the end of a board at the baseboard line you have drawn. Make sure the hardwood plank is perpendicular to the floor joist. This will provide the proper support for the flooring.
  4. Nail the end of the board down into the sub-floor and joist, using a hammer and one nail. This is an area that the pneumatic stapler will not be able to reach.
  5. Continue to put down boards, fitting the tongue and groove ends together. Use the pneumatic stapler, also called a pneumatic nail gun, to attach the flooring. Tools can be rented from home improvement stores.

Things You Will Need

  • Pneumatic staple gun
  • Broom
  • Standard staple gun
  • Pliers or pry bar
  • Air compressor
  • Red rosin paper
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Glue-dissolving solvent
  • Nails
  • Prefinished hardwood floor boards
  • Measuring tape
  • Hammer
  • Oriented strand board


  • Always buy extra flooring in case you measure or cut wrong. About 10 to 15 percent overage is suggested as a rule.
  • Before attaching the hardwood boards to the floor, lay them out to see how it will look. The boards should be uneven in length, almost randomly selected, rather than uniform size.
  • Be sure to use enough nails or staples. Every 12 inches or so should suffice.

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