Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Installing Wood Flooring- 101

Now that the wood floors are hanging out in our garage, we decided it was probably time to install them.  Hmmm, neither one of us had ever done this before and it didn't sound like one of those things that we should just "figure out as we go along" as some of our house renovations were.  Time to call in the expert...Bob the Builder!  He will show up a lot on this blog, so you better just learn to love him.

The one thing that we knew we needed was an automatic wood floor stapler as opposed to the "old school" stapler that you have to whack.  We really didn't feel like playing Whack-A-Mole, and quite honestly our muscles just aren't up to par to handle one of those bad boys.  Enter the automatic stapler!  Nate was lucky enough to have been given some nail guns with an air compressor as a Christmas gift from his beautiful wife (guess who is writing this post?!?), so we already had the air compressor and Bob knew someone that was willing to let us borrow his automatic stapler.  We are ready to lay some floors!

When laying flooring you need to "step" the flooring in order to be able to randomize the lengths properly, as seen below.  You also need to lay roofing felt underneath the flooring to help with floor creaking and moisture.


We had piles set up in the dining room with each size (we had four different sizes) in one pile.  We chose randomly for the first course which ran against the front wall of our hallway and into our living room.  The floor vents were cut out using a scroll saw, and the boards were shortened accordingly (when they met up with the wall) with a miter saw (a gift from Nate's parents).

For the second course, we started with the leftover piece from the board that was just cut with the miter saw, and then matched the sizes that we used in the first course.  This process continued throughout the home.  If you use this method, your waste should be very, very minimal.  Our waste consisted of a few boards that we just completely screwed up on, and about a half of a dozen short little pieces that were useless.  As long as when you are putting in the last piece against the wall in one course, the "leftovers" from the cut are large enough to be used for the next course you will have no waste!  It really is one of the most rewarding projects that we undertook on this renovation.

We spent about four weeknights installing the flooring.  One of us would pick the piece of flooring, set it, and join the tongue and groove together using a mallet and a wooden block, as to not damage the floors with the mallet, and the other one of us would staple them together.  It was a great project for two people and shockingly our knees and backs handled the work.  Bob basically taught us how to start with the first two courses, and we did the entire rest of the first floor!  We gave ourselves a big 'ole pat on the back when we were finished!

Speaking of when we finished, we reviewed our work and realized how much we LOVED the natural look of the walnut.  We were originally going to stain them a very dark espresso brown.
Uh oh!  All of this work to find floors that will look great when stained dark and now we don't want to stain them!  Walnut is such a naturally beautiful wood, and we loved the grain and knots that came along with getting the #1 Common so we had to find a finish that would maintain the look of the unfinished floor.  We tried several options:  Oil based polyurethane, clear stain, and tung oil.  But the finish that we both loved the most, the one that maintained the look of the raw wood the best, was a water based polyurethane.  We called Dominion Floors in Arlington, VA and they finished our floors over a process of two days.  We were banished to live on the second floor while things dried properly.
Once the floors were finished (and not stained dark) our friends starting coming out of the woodwork to tell us what a bad idea they thought staining the floors dark would have been.  Speak up people!  Tell us if you think we are making a mistake BEFORE we either go through with it or agonize over our decision!  Why does it always happen that way?  It was the classic "I broke up with him" and your friends say "Good, we didn't like him anyways!"  Just tell us up front!

Now that our friends have been reprimanded, we LOVE our floors and we are so happy that we did not stain them dark.  Notice in the photo above some woodwork happening in the dining room.  Guess what the next post is going to be about!?!?


  1. Michele... your floors are beautiful! I know you had Bob the Builder with you when you were installing your floors, but do you have any other recommendations for tutorials for installing your own floors? We are thinking about doing this next year, but we are newbies!!! :)

    1. Honestly, we didn't really use Bob a whole lot on this project. He just gave us the basics and we took it from there. It really is very easy to do if you have the right tools. I highly recommend the Bostitch stapler. It was a huge help and made things go really smoothly. Good luck on your floors!!

  2. your home looks great after installation of wooden flooringWood floors installed

  3. this is the great way to install wooden floors and it looks good after refinishingInstalling wood flooring