Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Having laid hardwood in our last house and (almost) everywhere in our current house there are some tips and tricks that we have learned, mostly through trial and error, about laying hardwood. We figured we might as well share them on our blog.


#1 buy your own nailer and air compressor - a decent hardwood nailer can often be found on craigslist, ebay or an alternative hardware store for less than 200$ and an air compressor can be had for as little as 150$ at a big box store. Having your own hardwood nailer allows you to take your time and get things right rather than rushing through the job to trying to save a couple hundred bucks in rental. If you want to recoup this cost after the job sell them afterward on craigslist you will probably end up being out less than if you had rented!

#2 use foam underlay - this was a trick we picked up from our neighborhood contractor, using a foam underlay(we used Roberts 2 in 1, it's next to the hardwood in home depot) absorbs sound, provides a moisture barrier(less expansion/contraction) and also evens out any small abnormalities in the subfloor.

#3 make sure your first row is perfect - Pick the longest continuous wall in your space and use it as a reference point, measure out from the wall 1/4 inch + 2*the width of the hardwood (or whatever multiple will allow you to use the nailer). Use whatever straight scrap wood you have lying around, we used some 2" and 3" strips of mdf, and secure them to the subfloor, every 8" using wood screws. Doing this allowed us to snug up hardwood against the mdf and nail it with the nailer. If you can't lay a continuous line across your longest wall(like in our livingroom) you can measure out a foot or two until you can lay it in a continuous line then us the next tip to work backwards

#4 working backwards - if you end up in a situation where you have to go backwards the best way to do this is using something called "slip tongue" that makes the groove of the hardwood into a tongue. Slip tongue can be found at most hardwood stores and is incredibly cheap(home depot used to carry it but not in our area anymore).

#5 tight spots - for the last couple rows I suggest switching to using staples in the hardwood nailer. You can usually use a single staple in the ends of the wood without cracking it.

#6 get a grip - good vicegrips are very useful for removing half nailed nails

#7 snug it up - ensure that the wood is as tight as possible before you nail it, also use nails liberally it may cost a little more in nails but it will be well worth it in the finished product. Also, be sure to leave 1/4 inch around the edges so if the wood does expand it won't cup.

#8 working around old trim - if your trim is too old and fragile to be removed there is a way to make the hardwood not look weird. Take a piece of the hardwood and mark how high it comes on the trim. Then use a flush cut saw to cut out the trim. Then when you put the hardwood around the trim put it under the trim you cut. This way it looks like the trim was done after the hardwood (as it would be normally done).

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