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How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels With the Nail Down Method

There are a variety of methods for installing hardwood flooring.
The nail down technique of laying hardwood floors has become very
popular. For those learning how to install hardwood floor, there’s no
simpler or straightforward technique than the nail down technique.

Unlike
other methods which basically require you to be an amateur carpenter or
even a professional carpenter, the nail down method on how to install
hardwood flooring can be accomplished by anyone who can swing a hammer.
Well, that’s not all it takes. You also have to be persistent, patient,
and willing to try new things if you want to learn how to install
hardwood floor. Also, you need to be willing to read the safety
instructions that come with the tools you’ll be using.

Tools You’ll Need as Your Learn How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Broom
and Dust Pan – You need to clean up constantly as you learn how to
install hardwood floor to make sure no dirt, sawdust, or other debris
get caught in between the grooves or under the boards.

Carpenter’s
Crayon – Use this to create guidelines on your sub floor. You’ll also
need it to draw lines where you’ll cut your hardwood panels.

Claw
Hammer – Any areas near obstacles or walls where you can’t get enough
space to swing a rubber mallet will have to be reached with your claw
hammer.

Cutter Knife – Use this often for unforeseen activities
involved as you learn how to install hardwood floor. But the main
purpose of this device will be to cut out any excess wood when
adjustments of only a millimeter or two need to be made.

Electric
Drill and 3/32″ Drill Bit – Use this to drill your pilot holes, which
should be slightly smaller in length and circumference than your nails.
This will prevent your flooring panels from cracking when you put the
nails in them.

Hardwood Flooring Nails (2″) – These nails are important because they will be what hold your floor in place.

Nailer
– This can either be a hammer or pneumatic nail gun. The pneumatic nail
gun is obviously faster and easier, but you have to get it calibrated
just right so that the nails don’t go too far down into the wood and
destroy your hardwood panels.

Rubber Mallet – This is your chance
to pound your frustrations out as you learn how to install hardwood
floor. Actually, you should pound them out gently to bring the surfaces
of the two panels together perfectly. You don’t want to get them too far
apart or your floor will have crevices. But if you pound them too hard
together, you can damage them or push them so far together as to bow
them.

Circular Saw – At the end of each row of boards as you go
into the corner, you will need to cut your floor panels to fit. Any
fixtures in the room will also have to be cut around.

Preparing to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Although
the nail down method of installing hardwood floor panels is pretty
simple, it should still be done carefully as the hardwood floor has to
endure for many years in whatever form you complete it.

All of the
furniture and obstacles that can be removed from the room should be
removed while you install your hardwood floor panels. This is true even
if it requires manual dismantling and reassembly. For those fixtures
build into the floor of the room, you’ll just have to panel around them.
It’s not the easiest way to go, but you have to do what you have to do
to get your hardwood floor installed. If you have door sills, an old
hardwood floor, baseboards, or carpet, remove them before you begin as
well.

If the surface beneath where you will be flooring is cement
or any other lumpy material, use a felt floor liner to cover this
surface. Then install a plywood sub-floor over it. Once laid, you should
be ready to begin installing the hardwood floor.

Steps on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

1.
Put your first floor panel in the corner of the room in which you have
decided to start your flooring. The grooves should be toward the wall
and the tongues should be toward the room.

2. Start adding panels
to make a row. The last panel shouldn’t quite fit right, so you’ll have
to use that carpenter’s crayon to mark where to cut it. Use your
circular saw to cut it. Be very careful not to cut it too small. The
fitting needs to be just about perfect.

3. Use your drill to make
your little pilot holes. Put the nails in to fasten your floor down.
Though it will take longer, you’ll be thankful when you’re done if you
used pilot holes when you’re learning how to install hardwood floor.

4.
Grab the other half of the panel you cut off the row you just completed
and use it as the starting point for the next row. This will seem
strange at first, but when the floor is completed, the offset of the
boards will look really nice. Additionally, if all of your boards
matched up, the floor won’t have interlocked strength.

5. Continue
on doing this as you go through the remaining rows. Use the rubber
mallet as necessary to make the boards and rows nice and snug. When the
rubber mallet won’t fit, use the claw hammer to pull the boards tight.
The last things you need are some giant crevices between your boards
when you’ve finished your new hardwood floor.

6. The last panel is
the hardest one to get put in place, but your floor will look really
awful if you hurry at this step. You need to patiently measure, cut, and
make your last panel fit.

7. Clean the floor you just laid.

Cleaning Up After You Install Hardwood Floor Panels

In
the process of how to install hardwood floors, cleaning up is important
and overlooked enough to warrant its own follow-up section. But unlike
other nail down method guides on how to install hardwood floor panels,
we want to make sure you understand this step.

Cleaning up is
important because there are little wood chips and saw dust everywhere
after the typical hardwood floor installation. Use your broom and dust
pan to pick up any debris on the floor. These particles, if walked on
and rubbed on by furniture, can make your brand new floor look like a
scratched up old floor pretty quickly.

Unless you went beyond the
instructions on how to install hardwood floors and used glue on your
hardwood panels, there’s no need to get your floor wet before it has had
a chance to settle. This is because you don’t want it to swell before
you’ve moved the furniture back in and given it a couple days to get
itself in its final arrangement.

Special Tips Add-On on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Don’t
get too aggressive when putting your hardwood flooring in place. It’s
very easy to ruin the surface of floor panels when they’re floating
freely and you’re placing them and pounding on them. Be especially
careful when fixing a row that looks a little bit off.

If your
rubber mallet is sturdy enough, it’ll be the best thing to put nails in
because it won’t do as much damage to the surface of your floor panels.

Your
nailed down floor probably isn’t going to be quite as nice as the one
installed by a professional. On the other hand, it’s going to look
pretty nice on its own. It will probably be about the nicest looking job
an inexperienced hardwood floor installer can do. And if you change
your mind about the floor, it’s one of the easiest hardwood floor
installation methods to undo.

But besides being easy to install
and uninstall, nailed down hardwood floor has some usage advantages over
other types. The main advantage to keep in mind is that a glued down
floor is rigid; once a floor panel is dried in place, it’s there for
good whether it’s snug to the next panel over or not. The loose floor
isn’t attached to anything and can be creaky, bubbly, and move around.
So enjoy your new well-fixed hardwood floor.