Remodeling: Installing Tounge & Groove Flooring




Introduction: Remodeling: Installing Tounge & Groove Flooring

This is part three of my series of projects I encountered when remodeling my kitchen. All of the Instructables can be viewed in my Kitchen Remodeling Guide. (Coming Soon!)

In this part the old linoleum and carpet floors in the kitchen and dining room are removed in favor of a wood-laminate tounge and groove (T&G) floor. Since the flooring comes with instructions and there are other well done instructions all over the web I will not go in-depth about the actual install and instead will focus on some of the prep, not found in basic instructions, and tips I picked up along the way.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Tongue & Groove Flooring - I would suggest having at least half a box extra, more if the shape of your room necessitates a lot of cuts. Besides cutting boards there will be warped or damaged boards as well.
  • Underlayment Pad - We used a pretty basic pad and so far have not had any problems yet. You will need slightly more than the area of your project.
  • Underlayment Board - This is sheets of particle board used to build up the sub-floor to match the carpet or to provide a smoother surface than the sub-floor. If your new floor won't come up to carpet and your sub-floor is nice then this is not necessary
  • Wood Screws - For attaching the underlayment board, if necessary.
  • Click-Seal - Cal-Flor, $16.99 - This is a fairly new product for use with T&G floors that are going in places where water likely to find it's way onto the floor (entries, kitchens, and bathrooms). It is a wax/oil gel that goes onto the tongue as the floor is assembled. It doesn't actually glue the floor pieces together, it just reduces the water absorption of the boards. It's a product that you won't know is working but it gives a little peace of mind when putting a non-sealed wood floor into the kitchen.
  • Transitions - Again you can reuse the old ones, if there were any, but like most everything in this project, this is a good time to change these to match the new style of the room.
  • Tack Strip - Only necessary if you cut a new edge to some carpet. If you are careful when removing the strips you can reuse them.
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • T & G Tools - This consits of a puller bar, a block, and edge spacers.
  • Utility Knife
  • Screw Driver & Bits - Only needed if to build up your subfloor.
  • Saw - We used a combination of a table saw, handheld circular saw, and standard wood saw.
  • Pry Bar - Only needed if you are removing carpet.
  • Pliers - See above.

Step 2: Remove Old Flooring

Using a utility knife cut out strips and pull them up. If the entire area is linoleum and it's in good condition then you can just leave it down for most T& G floors.

Use a piece of string and some nails to make a line, if the carpet needs to be cut. After the cut, or if it wasn't necessary, remove the trim around where the carpet will come up. If the carpet matches some in the rest of your house and it's in good condition then consider taking care while removing it so it can be used if you ever need a patch. If the carpeted area is large cut it into manageable chunks. To remove the carpet go around the edge carefully removing the carpet from the tack strip. With the carpet now loose you can roll it up and store it, or dump it.

The carpet pad is simple but a pain. It should be stapled down, you'll see the staples because the pad will be dimpled down wherever they are. Using needle nose pliers go through and pull as many of the staples as you can. Then roll/tear the pad up and dispose of it (or store it if it's in really good condition and you have space and a future use for it). Grab the pliers again and pull any staples you missed.

To get the tack strip up garb a small pry bar and a hammer. Knock the pry bar under the strip at each point it is nailed down and pop each nail out of the sub floor. Doing it this way you should be able to remove entire sections of the strip with splintering the wood or losing any tacks. This is particularly useful if you only cut out a section of carpet and now have an exposed, untacked edge because the strips should be reusable.

Step 3: Prep Sub-Floor

Old Sub-Floor
If your old sub floor is all one thickness or doesn't have an underlayment step then follow the instructions provided by the flooring. Essentially the floor needs to be level, clean, and dry. Make sure there aren't any screw heads sticking up or staples leftover from any carpet pad that may have been down. Also if you pulled linoleum then you will probably need to scrape away some old glue.

New Underlayment
If the old floor was a mix of carpet and pretty much anything else then there was probably an underlayment board under the anything else section and now there is a step down where the carpet used to be. Start by measuring both the size of the bare sub-floor (the part that needs stepped up to match the old underlayment board) and the thickness of the old underlayment board. Your local hardware store should carry a variety of thicknesses that should match the old board. Plywood is a little cheaper than underlayment board but it is not as smooth, which is helpful for laying a T&G floor.
Cut the boards to fit in the room and screw them into the sub-floor below. As with using original sub-flooring, make sure it is clean and dry with no screws or nails protruding from its surface.

Step 4: Layout New Floor

The instructions in the T&G flooring should cover this pretty well so just a couple of notes.
  • I read two different rules about board direction: perpendicular to the joists, and parallel to the predominate natural light source (perpendicular to the window it comes through). Personally our room was much wider so we went with the boards in the wider direction, partially to match the flow of the room and partially to maximize the number of whole planks we could use. It happens to follow the joist rule and not the light one but I haven't noticed any visual issues with the light. Also the joist rule is probably not a big deal unless the sub-floor flexes a lot (squeaking) and then it's probably important.
  • Consider the location of any protrusions in or out of the rooms basic rectangular footprint (appliance slots or built in desks spring to mind) when choosing a layout. Ease shouldn't be your first priority but it makes a good tie-breaker if needed.
  • If you're really adventures go with a diagonal layout. It will involve a lot pore cutting, precision, and thought but the results are guaranteed to grab attention.

Step 5: Install New Floor

Again, the included instructions should cover the step by step pretty well so I won't get into that.
  • This is when you use the click-seal. it goes on both tongues right before each board is installed. I didn't put it on every board just the ones in the kitchen, under the dining table, and in front of the sliding door to the deck.
  • Be very careful when knocking the boards into place. If it is not seated properly or held firmly in place it can chip the laminate layer (that has the wood decal on it) forcing at least a partial scrapping of the board.
  • NEVER use the "S" or "2" shaped puller bar on any board other then those at the end where it will be covered by trim. It chips the edge every time.
  • If a board just won't snap in place just set it aside and try it somewhere else. We had several boards that were literally impossible to attach in one place that fit right together in another. Some boards though may be to warped to use anywhere but even these might still work on an end or beginning where they get cut down.
  • When ending and starting rows think through the measurement several times. It's backwards and it will trip you up if you don't pay attention. The left side of the board is used on the right side of the room and visa versa.
  • Mix up the length of your starting boards so you don't get visible lines formed by close joints.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Finish the floor off by installing, or reinstalling, the transition strips. There are so many different styles of transition strip I won't cover that here. If it's more complicated than: cut to length, fix in place (nail or screw), it will come with instructions.

Remember to clean up any liquid spills as quickly as possible and a damp mop with a mild detergent is the most you should be mopping with.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the rest of the series, out now or coming soon!

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    2 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love the grain of that flooring. Looks like a pro job, great work!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, up close you can see some mistakes but as a whole I'm pretty pleased with it.