How to Install a Tongue and Groove Wood Floor

Tongue and groove floors are fairly simple to install. They are typically made of oak, but they come in many different types of hardwood. Most tongue and groove floors are planks of �½ inch thick wood. One side of the plank is tongued and the other side is grooved to create an even and level match when you lock them together. Hardwood floors are usually sold in a package of 22 square feet. You may buy floors that are finished or unfinished. Unfinished floors take longer to install because you must sand, stain and seal them. This is a great choice if you want a custom type of finish. Finished floors are much faster to install because they have been pre-stained and sealed.

Now you know what type of flooring is available you can begin preparing the area where you will be installing your new tongue and groove floor. You will first need to remove the base moldings. It is much easier to install a floor with these out of the way. You may want to reuse the base moldings. Use a flat pry bar and a thin piece of scrap wood to wedge these out. Be careful not to damage the wall behind the moldings.

Next you will want to lay down some building paper. It acts as a vapor barrier. Overlap at the seams 2-3 inches. Staple it down.

Next you will want to figure out the width of your first plank. You may want to lay out the planks the width of your floor or if you are good at math use a calculator to figure it out. Be sure to leave a gap the thickness of your base moldings to allow for floor expansion.

Cut your starter planks to the correct width. Be sure to cut the grooved edge. The tongue side will face into the room. Get the width of your starter plank. Measure this number from the wall at each end. Be sure to add the thickness of the base moldings. With a pencil mark your floor at each end of your floor.

Use a chalk line to snap the two marks you just made. It is very important that this line is straight. This will affect your entire floor installation. Do not use the wall as a guide. Walls are rarely straight.

Line up your first plank with the tongue edge on the chalk line. Drill holes every foot along your first plank. Drive #6 finishing nails through the holes using a hammer. Be sure to set the nails flush with the floor. Remember to leave room for floor expansion.

Nail down strips of flooring using a flooring nailer. These can be rented at your local hardware stores. A hammer may be used but we do not recommend it. If you miss your floor will have ding in it.

Cut the end pieces to fit. Leave a little gap to make it easier to install.

You will likely have some obstacles. Simply cut the pieces to fit. It is much easier to lay the plank close to the obstacle as you can then transfer the measurements onto the plank.

Lay down the last row just like you did the first row. It may or may not need to be cut to fit. If you need to tighten the planks use a pry bar.

If you went with unfinished flooring you must sand it stain it and seal it. If you used pre-finished planks then you just need to install base boards and you are done.

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