How to Change the Direction on Hardwood Floors

Changing the direction of a hardwood floor is a common occurrence that can add to the beauty of the final product and even make the installation easier. Most direction changes occur in doorways so that the floor in another room is going in the opposite direction of the existing install, or in hallways to make the flooring go with the length of the hallway instead of across it. It may also be necessary to change the direction because of subflooring issues. Some homeowners even choose to have multiple direction changes throughout the home, with each room running the length of the longest wall, or following the direction of a person entering the room.

Typical wood flooring.

Step 1

Don't use a cut board at a direction change.

Stop your install at the point of the direction change by leaving a full board with the tongue or groove edge intact. Do not end with a ripped board when coming to a direction change. If you need to install a rip, place it behind the full board that you finish the room with.

Step 2

Framing square

Place your framing square against the finished edge of your flooring. Make a pencil mark along its full length leading into the new room. Remove the square. Use this line as a reference mark to pop a chalk line for your starter row in the new direction. This will ensure that the new direction is square with the existing install and will lock together properly. Measure the chalk line against the walls in the new area to be certain it is square with it as well.

Step 3

Use carpenter's glue at nail-down direction changes.

Run a line of glue along the tongue or groove edge of the direction change for nail-down installations,depending on your situation. For a groove edge, if you are trying to mate another groove edge on the flooring going in the new direction, slide a slip tongue into the groove and nail it in place. For a glue-down install, simply spread the adhesive as usual and mate the tongue and groove, inserting a slip tongue if needed.

Step 4

Wood flooring comes in many varieties.

Install a three-board run the entire length of the new direction. For glue-down installations, place starting blocks against the wall as needed to keep the run from moving and to help keep it true to your chalk line. For nail-down installations, finish nailing the first couple of rows both from the top and along the tongue edge to secure them.

Step 5

Make sure that all of the edges stay tight.

Check to be certain that your newly mated edge stays square with the existing install as you proceed. If you have lined it up properly, there should be a perfect fit between the two opposing directions. Keep a close eye on this edge as the install progresses to ensure that it stays true. You have now changed directions and have a solid starting row for your new area. Continue the normal install process in the new direction.

Things You Will Need

  • Adhesive
  • Slip tongues
  • Finish/Flooring nailer
  • Tape measure
  • Framing square
  • Chalk line
  • Pencil


  • Direction changes are best accomplished by stopping in the middle of a doorway. Using this method, when the door is closed the direction change isn't seen extending into one room or the other, and makes it a clean stop.


  • If your mated edge has gaps, the new direction is not properly squared with the existing floor. Stop immediately and straighten it out or you risk installing an entire room out of square.

About the Author

Gregg Miller has been a professional educator, writer and language tutor since 1996 and contributes to various websites. He specializes in education, fitness and language articles. He has a Master of Education in teaching English as a second language from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • wood background image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com
  • detail of industrial saw for furniture industry image by Tomo Jesenicnik from Fotolia.com
  • carpenter image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
  • bottle of glue on black marble image by phizics from Fotolia.com
  • Parquet floor image by Einar Bog from Fotolia.com
  • hardwood floor texture image by GoodMood Photo from Fotolia.com