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My house is over 120 years old so I figured that an upstairs bedroom was long overdue for new flooring. Especially since it only had the old tongue & groove sub floor rather than nice hardwood or carpeting. In this Instructable I will go through the basic steps necessary to install a new hardwood floor. The tear up of the old subfloor took about 7 hours with the help of my wife. The installation of the new plywood subfloor took about another 4-5. The new hardwood I installed alone which took a weekend and a few hours on 3-4 weeknights. If you have someone to help through the entire project it could easily be done in a single weekend depending on whether you need to install a new subfloor or not.

I used the following tools & materials to complete this installation:
All costs are rounded up.
Hammer
Pry Bars
Compound Miter Saw
Circular saw
Cordless drill
Pneumatic Floor Stapler with 2" Floor Staples $120 total - rented
18 Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer
18 Gauge 2" brads $6
Air Compressor set at 100 psi
54 feet of 3/4" Pine Roundover trim $40
Approx. 180 Sq Ft of 3/4" prefinished oak flooring $525
5-1/2 sheets of 3/4" pine plywood (subfloor) About $90
1 box of multipurpose screws $10
 
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Step 1: Tear up old subfloor.

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This may or may not be required depending on the condition of your existing sub floor. As I said, mine was tongue & groove meaning that the edge of one board fit some what tightly into the adjoining one. However the floor was quite uneven from years of wear and most of the boards were quite loose so I chose to remove all of the old boards and replace them with 4x8 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood. I used a circular saw to cut along the edge of the floor with the blade set at a depth just deep enough to cut through the boards yet not the floor joists. I also used the circular saw to cut the 4x8 sheets of ply wood to size.

Step 2: Install new subfloor & begin installing hardwood.

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Here I have installed all of the 3/4" plywood for my new subfloor. This will provide a nice even surface to install the new hardwood on top of. I used 2" multipurpose screws to screw the new subfloor to the floor joyce's. I began installing the new hardwood from the wall opposite the door. I place the strips of new flooring tight against the wall and nailed it in place using a 18 gauge pneumatic brad nailer.

Step 3: Make sure that the tongue & groove floor strips fit tightly.

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To accomplish this I lined each piece of flooring up and struck it lightly with the floor stapler mallet.

Step 4: Line up the pneumatic floor stapler.

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Tap the bottom of the floor stapler to ensure that it is tight against the new floor board.

Step 5: Strike the stapler driver surface.

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Next I strike the black stapler surface area which makes the stapler drive the staples into the floor boards. The standard staples for the stapler I rented are 2" long. Since these won't easily budge once driven into the floor I staggered them in space 1 every 1' to 3'. This depends on the length of the individual board. Also, with oak the longer boards can be somewhat irregular and not perfectly even. In those cases I simply pushed the board firmly into the other and spaced the staples somewhat closer together.

Step 6: Cut strips to length near the ends.

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When working from one side of the room toward the other it is soon apparent that the precut boards need to be trimmed so that they fit properly. Basically just find a board that is as close to fitting in the required space and trim it to fit. You don't want much more than 1/4" remaining so that it is easily covered by the round over trim when finishing.

Step 7: Keep installing floor.

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Keep doing the previous steps until you are close to the other side of the room.

Step 8: Here is the floor half done.

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Here I have stapled about half of the new hardwood flooring by cutting to length and stapling each in one at a time.

Step 9: 3/4 done.

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Reaching completion. Again, using the same cut to length and staple method.

Step 10: Finally finished.

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For the last couple strips I used the 18 gauge brad nailer to face nail them in place. Otherwise the same cut, tap and staple method was used. I also used a the same brad nailer to install 3/4" round over trim around the perimiter of the room. This covered the slight gap mentioned earlier along the baseboard and gave the floor that nice finished look.
muzzz6 years ago
How much did it cost, with equipment rental and all?
mattl (author)  muzzz6 years ago
In all it cost me just shy of $800 with the stapler rental and materials. One could certainly buy the materials over time in advance if you have somewhere to store them. If you compare that to what a professional charges the savings are quickly apparent. It all comes down to how much of a perfectionist you are and your available time.

$800. That is impressive!

egdinatale4 years ago
One note, I'm pretty sure you're supposed to leave a small gap from each wall to allow for expansion and contraction as the seasons change. Otherwise, looks great!
mard1kas4 years ago
One tip I have heard is that you should install the flooring so, that the panel joints run from the window to the room. This apparently makes the room lighting better.
Looks great... Just some tips /// I work at a "Big Box Tool Rental" Get your wood and let it sit in the room for a few days. Let us know the thickness of your wood, better yet bring a piece in with you (most are 3/4) We can shim the gun or give you shims to fit your wood. Never tap / hit the gun with the steel end of the hammer!!! That will drive up the cost of your rental by $150.00 for replacement parts. (they have to work for the next guy)
Did you PL the subfloor in addition with screws? This helps prevent creaking to the nice hardwood as the house continues to move and settle.
mattl (author)  jamiechandler5 years ago
No I didn't. I haven't experienced any creaking since the install. Since my house is over 120 years old, settling should be minimal.
tok25 years ago
speaking of personal experience. Adding insulation between the floor joists below the sub-floor will not help with the wear and tear (bumpy floor) that comes through years of use but the sound proofing it will do is way better than the cut you'll get to your heating bill; if you have teenagers or noisy kids in the house that is. I've never tried nailing the floorboards down before, but if i ever make my own I'll definently think about it if no easier alternatives arise.
 I prefer carpet, although hardwood floors increase appraisal value.

Not that I would know (I'm only 14).
marwanco6 years ago
Thank you for nice video. I'm in the middle of installation, already ripped first 3 rows because they were installed parallel to joist (like you did), and started again parallel to shorter side of te room but perpendicular to joist. Is it a big problem the orientation of floor plank against joist? 2.My subfloor is uneven in some areas, and in this areas it squeeks, is it good idea to fill the gaps under planks with shims? or there is another solution?? Thanks
mattl (author)  marwanco6 years ago
The best way to guarantee that you will have a nice even floor with no squeaks is to tear up the subfloor to the floor joists and install new plywood subfloor before installing the new hardwood.
vickireed6 years ago
Curious, do you recommend 3' or 6' flooring? I'm having trouble finding the 6' any recommendations would be appreciated.
mattl (author)  vickireed6 years ago
I assume you mean 3" or 6". Either will work fine. Specific nailing or stapling directions will be included with the flooring. The appearance is really a matter of preference.
PS1186 years ago
This is cool! I've been looking at trying some of that bamboo flooring, but been scared to try -- till now. I have a question tho. Is there supposed to be some kind of expansion gap left for the wood? (That's been my greatest fear is not knowing something like that, nailing everything up tight, and having the thing buckle in the summer.)
mattl (author)  PS1186 years ago
The only gap I have ever left is along the baseboard or wall. You will want the boards to be snug so that you don't have large gaps. While during warmer more humid times the wood will swell and expand slightly I have nave never had a problem with it warping, spreading or cupping.
PS118 mattl6 years ago
Great! Thanks for your reply!
nolte9196 years ago
Did you mean brad nailer in the last step or is bard nailer really a thing?
mattl (author)  nolte9196 years ago
Yes, brad nailer. It's corrected.
jeff-o6 years ago
Did you use tongue & groove plywood for the subfloor?
mattl (author)  jeff-o6 years ago
No, for the subfloor I used standard 3/4" plywood. As you can see in the pictures I left a very small gap (apprx. 1/16") between the sheets to avoid rubbing when weight is placed on the floor from furniture, people walking etc. I have done this with previous floors and it has been great.