How to Install 5/16 Wood Flooring

Solid wood planks of 5/16-inch thickness are lighter and easier to install than their 3/4-inch cousins. When installing it over a plywood subfloor, 1-inch staples will hold the planks together and keep them tight against the subfloor. An advantage of this flooring is that it can be sanded several times during its lifespan, and, with proper care and maintenance, the floor can last up to 75 years.

Wood floors can add warmth and beauty to a home's interior.
  1. Remove all furnishings from the room to be floored. Remove any molding, doors, door jambs and floor-level trim that can be taken down. This will make laying the flooring quicker and easier.

  2. Keep all boxes of flooring planks in or near the room to be floored for two or three days to let them acclimate to the room's temperature and humidity.

  3. Make certain the subfloor is absolutely flat. It need not be perfectly level, but it does need to be flat. Countersink any nail or screw heads protruding above the surface and remove paint, dust, debris or drywall mud from the subfloor. Use a hammer and nail set to countersink nails, and a drill and screwdriver bit for countersinking screws.

  4. Measure a distance of 1/2 inch out from each wall and snap a mark along this 1/2-inch perimeter. This will allow for an expansion gap all around the room. Base molding will cover the gap after the flooring is installed.

  5. Mix and match boards by choosing them from several different cartons to allow for subtle differences in staining and finishing by the manufacturer.

  6. Place the first row of boards down along the chalk line with the tongue of the board facing away from the wall, toward the center of the room. The end of the board should align with two intersecting chalk lines. It may be necessary to cut boards and butt them together to make the first run. Cut the planks with a saw.

  7. Predrill nail holes about 1/2 inch from the edge of the groove. Start the holes 1 to 2 inches from each end of the board and space them 6 to 8 inches apart. Wear safety glasses when drilling or sawing.

  8. Hammer 7d nails into the predrilled holes. Countersink the nail heads, then cover the holes with wood filler.

  9. Drill holes at a 45-degree angle across the tongue of the boards making up the first row. Space these holes in the same manner as the earlier pre-drilled holes. Hammer 7d nails into these holes. Filler is not necessary since they will be hidden by subsequent boards.

  10. Select a plank at least 6 inches longer or shorter than the neighboring board. Insert the groove on this board into the tongue of a neighboring board. While holding it tight against that board, drive in 1-inch glue-coated staples along the tongue. Add staples about every 8 inches along the board. Repeat this process for all the other boards.

  11. Make certain the final row of boards just meets the chalk line. This may require cutting or ripping (cutting lengthwise) to fit properly. Predrill holes in the same manner as the first board. Nail the final row in place and cover the holes with wood filler.


  • Incorrect settings on the air gun can cause staples to break the tongue, or not penetrate the tongue completely. Practice on scrap material before attempting to staple the actual flooring.

About the Author

Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a certified Master Naturalist, regularly monitors stream water quality and is the editor of freshare.net, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas.