Installing engineered floor (nail down)

Allow flooring to acclimate to its new environment. Wood Guys recommends flooring sit inside the house for at least one week before installation. Nailed-down engineered flooring must be installed over plywood. Ensure that sub-flooring is clean and in good condition before installation. Trim the bottoms of door casings to allow the new flooring to slip underneath.

Step 1

Cover the subfloor with 15-pound saturated builder’s felt. Run the felt in the same direction as the new flooring (in line with the longest wall). Tack or staple down every 4 feet, or so. Trim felt 1/2 inch from walls. Trim, with utility knife, around vents and outlets.

Step 2

Open the flooring and read the manufacturer’s recommendations in the packaging. Place spacers around the perimeter of the floor, against the walls. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for spacing and shim size. Typically, about a 1/2″ spacer will create an expansion gap that will prevent buckling.

Step 3

First row, butt the grooved-edge of a long strip of flooring against the spacers. With a mallet, snug together the ends of more long strips. At the end of the row, cut board to fit last space. When the first row is set, place a straightedge against the tongues. Slide the flooring in or out until the tongues line up with the straightedge. Using a brad nailer, top nail each board every 8″, within 1″ of the wall. Adjust the nailer to set the brads slightly below the floor surface.

Step 4

Once the first row is in place, staple 1 1/2″ brads at a 45-degree angle through the first row’s tongue and into the subfloor. Repeat every 4″-6″. This process is called toenailing. Slip the second row of flooring over the tongues of the first and snug up the strips with a mallet or a tapping block and hammer. As you go, offset joints about 12″ from those in the first row. Again, at the end of the row, cut the board to fit the last space. The leftover board can be used to start the next row. Toenail the tongues with the brad nailer as before, but do not top nail again until the last two rows. Because there are tongues and grooves milled into the ends of this flooring, the ends should not be cut, except where they meet a wall or obstruction. Lay out a few rows at a time. Tip: for more strength and color variation, pull and mix planks from at least three boxes at a time.

Step 5

Continue the above step until you are only a couple of rows from completion.

Step 6

Next-to-last row, the stapler will no longer be able to hit the tongued edge at the correct angle. Top nail the last two rows. Install this row just as the other rows, but top nail only. Again, be sure to adjust the nailer/stapler to set the brads slightly below the floor surface.

Step 7

Last row, measure the width to fill the gap. Deduct the manufacturer’s recommendation for spacing, and cut the tongued edge with a table or jigsaw. Use a pry bar to pull flooring into place. Top nail every 8″, within 1″ of wall.

Step 8

Install base trim or quarter round. Make sure nails go into the wall studs and not into the flooring. If you don’t feel comfortable installing your own floors, Wood Guys can help you find a local professional.