How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels With the Nail Down Method

There are a variety of methods for installing hardwood flooring. The nail down technique of laying hardwood floors has become very popular. For those learning how to install hardwood floor, there’s no simpler or straightforward technique than the nail down technique.

Unlike other methods which basically require you to be an amateur carpenter or even a professional carpenter, the nail down method on how to install hardwood flooring can be accomplished by anyone who can swing a hammer. Well, that’s not all it takes. You also have to be persistent, patient, and willing to try new things if you want to learn how to install hardwood floor. Also, you need to be willing to read the safety instructions that come with the tools you’ll be using.

Tools You’ll Need as Your Learn How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Broom and Dust Pan – You need to clean up constantly as you learn how to install hardwood floor to make sure no dirt, sawdust, or other debris get caught in between the grooves or under the boards.

Carpenter’s Crayon – Use this to create guidelines on your sub floor. You’ll also need it to draw lines where you’ll cut your hardwood panels.

Claw Hammer – Any areas near obstacles or walls where you can’t get enough space to swing a rubber mallet will have to be reached with your claw hammer.

Cutter Knife – Use this often for unforeseen activities involved as you learn how to install hardwood floor. But the main purpose of this device will be to cut out any excess wood when adjustments of only a millimeter or two need to be made.

Electric Drill and 3/32″ Drill Bit – Use this to drill your pilot holes, which should be slightly smaller in length and circumference than your nails. This will prevent your flooring panels from cracking when you put the nails in them.

Hardwood Flooring Nails (2″) – These nails are important because they will be what hold your floor in place.

Nailer – This can either be a hammer or pneumatic nail gun. The pneumatic nail gun is obviously faster and easier, but you have to get it calibrated just right so that the nails don’t go too far down into the wood and destroy your hardwood panels.

Rubber Mallet – This is your chance to pound your frustrations out as you learn how to install hardwood floor. Actually, you should pound them out gently to bring the surfaces of the two panels together perfectly. You don’t want to get them too far apart or your floor will have crevices. But if you pound them too hard together, you can damage them or push them so far together as to bow them.

Circular Saw – At the end of each row of boards as you go into the corner, you will need to cut your floor panels to fit. Any fixtures in the room will also have to be cut around.

Preparing to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Although the nail down method of installing hardwood floor panels is pretty simple, it should still be done carefully as the hardwood floor has to endure for many years in whatever form you complete it.

All of the furniture and obstacles that can be removed from the room should be removed while you install your hardwood floor panels. This is true even if it requires manual dismantling and reassembly. For those fixtures build into the floor of the room, you’ll just have to panel around them. It’s not the easiest way to go, but you have to do what you have to do to get your hardwood floor installed. If you have door sills, an old hardwood floor, baseboards, or carpet, remove them before you begin as well.

If the surface beneath where you will be flooring is cement or any other lumpy material, use a felt floor liner to cover this surface. Then install a plywood sub-floor over it. Once laid, you should be ready to begin installing the hardwood floor.

Steps on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

1. Put your first floor panel in the corner of the room in which you have decided to start your flooring. The grooves should be toward the wall and the tongues should be toward the room.

2. Start adding panels to make a row. The last panel shouldn’t quite fit right, so you’ll have to use that carpenter’s crayon to mark where to cut it. Use your circular saw to cut it. Be very careful not to cut it too small. The fitting needs to be just about perfect.

3. Use your drill to make your little pilot holes. Put the nails in to fasten your floor down. Though it will take longer, you’ll be thankful when you’re done if you used pilot holes when you’re learning how to install hardwood floor.

4. Grab the other half of the panel you cut off the row you just completed and use it as the starting point for the next row. This will seem strange at first, but when the floor is completed, the offset of the boards will look really nice. Additionally, if all of your boards matched up, the floor won’t have interlocked strength.

5. Continue on doing this as you go through the remaining rows. Use the rubber mallet as necessary to make the boards and rows nice and snug. When the rubber mallet won’t fit, use the claw hammer to pull the boards tight. The last things you need are some giant crevices between your boards when you’ve finished your new hardwood floor.

6. The last panel is the hardest one to get put in place, but your floor will look really awful if you hurry at this step. You need to patiently measure, cut, and make your last panel fit.

7. Clean the floor you just laid.

Cleaning Up After You Install Hardwood Floor Panels

In the process of how to install hardwood floors, cleaning up is important and overlooked enough to warrant its own follow-up section. But unlike other nail down method guides on how to install hardwood floor panels, we want to make sure you understand this step.

Cleaning up is important because there are little wood chips and saw dust everywhere after the typical hardwood floor installation. Use your broom and dust pan to pick up any debris on the floor. These particles, if walked on and rubbed on by furniture, can make your brand new floor look like a scratched up old floor pretty quickly.

Unless you went beyond the instructions on how to install hardwood floors and used glue on your hardwood panels, there’s no need to get your floor wet before it has had a chance to settle. This is because you don’t want it to swell before you’ve moved the furniture back in and given it a couple days to get itself in its final arrangement.

Special Tips Add-On on How to Install Hardwood Floor Panels

Don’t get too aggressive when putting your hardwood flooring in place. It’s very easy to ruin the surface of floor panels when they’re floating freely and you’re placing them and pounding on them. Be especially careful when fixing a row that looks a little bit off.

If your rubber mallet is sturdy enough, it’ll be the best thing to put nails in because it won’t do as much damage to the surface of your floor panels.

Your nailed down floor probably isn’t going to be quite as nice as the one installed by a professional. On the other hand, it’s going to look pretty nice on its own. It will probably be about the nicest looking job an inexperienced hardwood floor installer can do. And if you change your mind about the floor, it’s one of the easiest hardwood floor installation methods to undo.

But besides being easy to install and uninstall, nailed down hardwood floor has some usage advantages over other types. The main advantage to keep in mind is that a glued down floor is rigid; once a floor panel is dried in place, it’s there for good whether it’s snug to the next panel over or not. The loose floor isn’t attached to anything and can be creaky, bubbly, and move around. So enjoy your new well-fixed hardwood floor.

The Glue Down Method of Installing Hardwood Flooring

The glue down method of laying hardwood floors is one of the original methods of installing hardwood flooring. If you want to learn the basics of how to install hardwood flooring using the glue down method, you’ve come to the right place. Among do it yourself hardwood floors, those done with the glue down method can be the most stable and enduring. When you are installing hardwood flooring using the glue down method, you can rest assured that you are using a technique that has been time-tested.

Tools Needed When Installing Hardwood Flooring

Square Notched Trowel – This trowel should have one quarter inch sides for the application of the glue.

Broom and Dust Pan – You’ll want to constantly be cleaning up any saw dust that could get stuck under your floor panels or get stuck in your connecting joints. The last thing you need is a lumpy hardwood floor when you’re done installing hardwood flooring.

Carpenter’s Crayon – This is what you use to mark where you’ll make your cuts on your panels. You’ll also use this to mark up the surface where you’ll be laying your panels. You’ll want to keep this handy at all times because it is particularly important with the glue down method that everything be done very precisely.

Circular Saw – You’ll use your circular saw to cut up panels as necessary. Additionally, you’ll use your circular saw to score your substrate sheets every eight inches. This is important for the prevention of curling panels.

Glue – Many hardwood panel kits come with their own glue. If you need to buy glue for your hardwood panels, I highly recommend Bostik’s Best Adhesive.

Lace Nails – You’ll use these nails when connecting the panels to walls and wall strips.

Plywood Substrate Sheets – These are placed on top of the concrete and go underneath your hardwood floor.

Soft Cloths – You’ll need these to clean up excess glue throughout the process of installing hardwood flooring. If the glue is allowed to set, it’ll take extra measure to remove it. In some cases, it requires special chemicals and glue to remove glue once it has set. You’ll also need your soft cloths to clean up after you’ve installed your hardwood floors.

Rubber Gloves – It’s much better to glue the fingers of your gloves together than your own fingers together! Besides, many people don’t like having dried glue on their hands for weeks after they finish installing hardwood flooring.

Final Preparation for Installing Hardwood Flooring

When using the glue down method for installing hardwood flooring, it is absolutely essential that the surface where you will be placing your flooring panels is properly prepared. You’ll be attaching your flooring panels to this surface, so the floor must be smooth, dry, and as clean as possible to give your hardwood floor a solid support base. Be particularly careful to clean up anything that looks like it may be grease or oil, as your glue may not properly bond.

It’s also very important that your sub floor be completely level and flat. If you notice any unevenness, get some patching cement from the hardware store to even the sub floor.

You also need to choose between one of the two methods of laying hardwood panels down with the glue down method. Your choices for installing hardwood flooring are the Walk On method or the Wet Lay method.

If you choose the Wet Lay method for installing hardwood flooring, you’ll be putting glue across the substrate followed by placing the hardwood panel on top of the glue. After the glue starts to become tacky, you proceed to the next panel. However, sometimes it is recommended for first time installers using the glue down method to place the next panels before the glue becomes tacky so that you can adjust your panels a few minutes later if they are not lined up properly.

The Walk On method of installing hardwood flooring requires precise panel laying. This process of installing hardwood flooring waits until the glue is very tacky and then lays the panel in the glue. This keeps you from getting glue smudges all over your panels as you go. Experienced hardwood installers typically use the Walk On method because of the better finished results it can provide. Since you are reading instructions about how to install hardwood floors, we’ll assume you’re using the Wet Lay method.

Instructions for Installing Hardwood Flooring

1. Place your substrate sheets, stretched across the foundation. Make sure that the surface is level, clean, and free of debris.

2. Get your glue warm. It should be slightly above room temperature or it will be very difficult to work with. If it’s below room temperature, you’ll find it impossible to work with your glue.

3. Use your square notched trowel to put glue in the starting corner of the room. Put enough to securely fasten the board, but ration your glue so that it’ll be able to complete the entire hardwood flooring process. If you had any doubt about whether you have enough glue, it would have been a good idea to buy more before you started gluing. You’ll typically find that it takes an extra day to do the flooring when you run out of glue before you’ve finished.

4. Try to place your first wood panel straight down on the glue, secured into the corner. Since you are working with wet glue, place the panel as best you can at first so that you’ll not be smearing the glue around as you adjust the panel’s placement. If you had used the Walk On method, you wouldn’t be able to move the panel at all only a few seconds after placement.

5. You can continue on as in the above steps with adding more panels until you reach the last panel, which shouldn’t completely fit. Use your crayon to mark where to cut the board and your saw to make the cut.

6. Get your first row wedged in really tight so that it will provide a solid basis for your entire floor.

7. Before any of the glue dries, use a soft cloth to clean up any glue that may be sitting on the surface of your first row. The longer you wait to clean up the glue, the more difficult it will get to clean up the glue.

8. Hopefully you didn’t mutilate the excess piece of panel you cut off to end the first row. That’s going to be the panel you use to start the next row. This helps make sure your hardwood floor looks nice by having all of the panels offset.

9. If you’re seeing any bubbles, hills, or slopes on the panels you’ve been laying, put a heavy, flat object on top of these sections to hold them down until the glue attaches them to the substrate.

10. Clean up again. Get all of that sawdust and glue out of there. A soft cloth with mineral spirits on it can be used to get glue you’ve missed that may be hardening. Clean the mineral spirits off quickly to avoid having them damage the floor. You should have a nice, new hardwood floor.

Hindsight Tips for Installing Hardwood Flooring

-For best results, use plywood sheets to form your substrate.

-The thicker your substrate sheets are, the easier it is to compensate for leveling differences at the surface. But you should still try to get the surface as level as possible before laying your substrate sheets.

-If you have enough flat, heavy objects, place them on each new panel as you place the panel on the floor to help it get the best possible attachment to the substrate. Don’t use anything that can damage the surface of your panels. If you have nothing else, you can always lay on the panels. Be careful not to get glue on top of them though.

Rest Assured That You Made a Good Choice Installing Hardwood Flooring

When you have your hardwood floor glued down, you are ready to experience a great sense of accomplishment. If you did a really good job of installing your hardwood flooring using the glue down method, you will not experience nearly as much creaky floor syndrome as you would with other methods of installation.

And for your sake, I really hope you followed the instructions carefully and picking out high quality flooring. This is because replacing a glued down hardwood floor is no task for amateurs. That is unless you’ve got destructive pleasure tendencies. You’ll need some serious sledgehammer, crow bar, and circular saw work if you ever want to replace that glued down hardwood floor.

Can I Get Hardwood Floors If I Have a Dog?

Of course you can get a hardwood floor if you have a dog. The questions that arise are rather simple though, and the main one is, “How are you going to be able to maintain a decent looking hardwood floor with a dog in the house?” The bottom line for a hardwood floor situation with a dog is vigilance. But damage is coming to the hardwood floor whether it is from the dog or the human occupants. There are all sorts of issues and questions on this subject. This article zeroes in on some of the issues and solutions that you might have to deal with concerning your dog and your hardwood floor.

There are several solutions and even more opinions. The first being the size and activity level of the dog. If you have a heavy dog, who likes to run around the house, the damage to the hardwood floors could be a regular thing. However, a smaller dog with a high activity level can bring a similar amount of damage to your floors too. A common misconception is that a smaller dog isn’t going to be able to tear into the hardwood floor the way a bigger dog will. If the dog is active though, it will create its own “scratchy damage” for the floor. It is also a good idea to not play roughhousing games with your dog indoors. If this has been something that you have done in the past then it is now officially time to shift that priority to outside! A dog is going to move through the house, and sometimes, that motion is going to be quick. A great example of this is when someone knocks on the door.

Another item to consider is the length of your dog’s nails. If your dog has his nails clipped regularly, he isn’t going to be able to tear into the floor as much. Lots of aspects need to be considered with a dog’s nails though. If your dog grows an excess amount of hair between the pads of his paws, he is going to be a little bit more slippery on the floor, and he is going to use his nails to compensate. Furthermore, a dog that is slipping regularly also has a different level of damage to worry about, and that is to the dog himself and to whatever he might plow into. Installing a hardwood floor means that you will have to pay attention to your dog’s indoor activity and his paws a lot more.

There are a couple of solutions for these types of situations. The main one is that a throw rug can be put down in active areas (like by the door). This will stop some of the damage. Mats and rugs in high traffic areas make a lot of sense, even if there isn’t a dog in the household. Some dog owners also teach their dogs to stay off of the hardwood floors period. They have carpeted areas in the house for dogs and children to play on. If that isn’t how your house is, well placed rugs can cure a lot of issues. A rug by the door is a good idea, and anywhere where the dog might be inclined to slobber as well.

Some owners (who apparently have an abundance of time on their hands) opt for dog booties when their dog is indoors. This sounds like one of the more tedious methods of dealing with dogs tearing into hardwood flooring. Another solution is dog nail covers. These are plastic caps that you can buy for your dog’s nails that stay in place with an included adhesive. They can be purchased in a clear color or in other colors, and they stay in place for about 8 weeks. One of the issues that dog owners have cited with these is that sometimes the nail grows within the cap and the cap needs to be cut off. Dog nails aren’t dead and nerve-free like human nails are. They have a vein of blood running through them, and if the nail gets too truncated, there could be pain for the dog.

Dog hair is another aspect to consider. If you have a particularly hairy dog, it is now (more than ever) time to stay on top of grooming your dog. Regular baths and the use of de-shedding brushes like a Mars comb are perfect for this. Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping regularly will keep the dog hair up. Dog hair can get in between the boards and snag on just about everything. Keeping your dog properly groomed regularly will help cut down on this. But the fact that you have to face is that a dog is completely covered with hair, whether long or short. That hair is going to get shed around the house regularly and it is going to be a lot more visible on a hardwood floor.

Another issue to consider is the kind of hardwood flooring that you are installing. A lot of pre-fab tongue-and-groove-type flooring have gaps between the pieces. Not huge gaps, some are rather subtle, but there is a gap nonetheless. This gap is going to potentially get filled with doggie dirt and funk. Get hardwood with the smallest gaps possible between your boards. In your consideration of the hardwood that you are getting, you also want to make sure that it is a hardwood that can be refinished. That way you can have it buffed regularly.

The last thing that a dog owner needs to worry about is urine stains. As mentioned before, vigilance with spilled liquids becomes the number one priority with a hardwood floor. If a dog manages to “sneak” a urine puddle past you, this can be extremely detrimental to the hardwood floor. The detriment is twofold. The first aspect of a dog’s urine stain is that a long-term stain is going to smell. Wood is porous and will absorb the urine deeply into itself. The second is that the stain will be dark, sometimes black. If your hardwood is darker in color, then this won’t be such a problem. But if your hardwood floor is light in color, there will be a dark stain on your floor. There are many different products available for this kind of issue. If the floor is really light, drops of hydrogen peroxide left overnight are great stain lifters. But this isn’t a solution that should be applied to darker hardwood floors. In short, you’ll have to pay even closer attention to your dog’s comings and goings. Sometimes those rugs and mats that you have left around high traffic areas are housing liquid (possibly even urine), and it is good to be vigilant about checking them.

The fact of the matter is that maintaining a hardwood floor with a dog is a lot of work. You will have to pay close attention to your dog’s comings and goings as well as his nail length and whether or not he needs to be groomed. You will also need to stay vigilant with sweeping, mopping and vacuuming. The floor will definitely take some damage as a result of your dog, but it will also take damage as a result of you too. Hardwood floors can be maintained with a dog in the household, but there needs to be a deeper consideration of the potential damage a dog can bring.