How to Install a Hardwood Floor

How to Install a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors add timeless elegance and value to any home. Whether you're renovating an old space or building a new one, installing hardwood floors can dramatically improve the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your home. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of installing a hardwood floor, from preparation to completion.


Installing a hardwood floor may seem daunting, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, it's a project that many DIY enthusiasts can tackle. Hardwood flooring offers durability, beauty, and an air of sophistication that is hard to match with other flooring types. This guide will provide you with detailed instructions on how to install hardwood floors, ensuring that your new floor is both beautiful and long-lasting.

Preparing for Installation

Choosing Your Hardwood

Before you begin, it's crucial to select the right type of hardwood for your space. Consider factors like wood species, color, grain pattern, and board width. Common choices include oak, maple, and cherry, each offering unique characteristics.

Acclimating the Wood

Wood is a natural material that expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature. To prevent issues with your new floor, let the hardwood acclimate to the room where it will be installed.
Leave the unopened boxes of hardwood in the room for at least 48 hours.

Gathering Tools and Materials

You'll need the following tools and materials:

  • Hardwood flooring planks
  • Underlayment
  • Moisture barrier (if needed)
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer and nails or a pneumatic flooring nailer
  • Saw (circular or miter)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spacers
  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, ear protection)

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

1. Prepare the Subfloor

A clean, dry, and level subfloor is essential for a successful installation. Remove any old flooring, nails, or debris. Check for any uneven areas and sand them down. If installing over concrete, ensure it's fully cured and dry. Use a moisture barrier if necessary to prevent any moisture issues.

2. Install the Underlayment

Underlayment provides a smooth surface for your hardwood and helps with sound absorption. Roll out the underlayment across the subfloor, making sure it covers the entire area. Cut it to fit the room's dimensions and tape the seams together to keep it in place.

3. Plan Your Layout

Planning the layout is crucial to avoid any awkward cuts or mismatched joints. Start by measuring the room and marking a centerline with a chalk line. Decide on the direction of the planks, typically parallel to the longest wall or the room's main light source.

4. Lay the First Row

Begin laying the first row of planks along the longest wall, leaving a 3/4-inch expansion gap between the planks and the wall to allow for natural expansion. Use spacers to maintain this gap. Place the groove side of the plank facing the wall and nail it into place through the tongue at a 45-degree angle.

5. Continue Laying the Floor

Stagger the end joints of the planks by at least 6 inches to create a more natural look and improve stability. Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks together snugly. Continue nailing the planks through the tongues, ensuring each row is tightly aligned with the previous one.

6. Cutting and Fitting Planks

Measure and cut the planks to fit around obstacles like doorways, vents, and corners. Use a saw to make precise cuts, and fit the planks carefully into place. For the last row, you may need to rip the planks to fit, ensuring you still leave the expansion gap.

7. Finishing Touches

Once all the planks are installed, remove the spacers and install baseboards or moldings to cover the expansion gaps. Ensure the moldings are not nailed into the hardwood floor itself, allowing for proper movement.


Installing a hardwood floor is a rewarding project that can significantly enhance the beauty and value of your home. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can achieve professional-looking results that will last for decades. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire professionals, the timeless elegance of hardwood floors is well worth the effort.

For more tips, expert advice, and a wide selection of quality hardwood flooring, visit LP Custom Floors LLC in Cornelius, NC. Our team of professionals is here to help you every step of the way, ensuring you get the perfect floor for your home.