How to Install Oak Flooring

When installing oak flooring, begin by carefully reading all manufacturer’s directions.

The direction of your flooring should be at a right angle with the wood joists under the subfloor. This is the longest dimension of the room and will result in the best appearance. Your flooring installation should begin along the longest continuous wall which is parallel to the flooring in most rooms. From your start point, you will then work your way into the room. A slip-tongue should be used to reverse direction and complete the room. The slip tongue should be glued and blind nailed. Whenever a change in direction is required, it is important to provide tongue and groove engagement, either using a slip-tongue, factory edge, or end.

It is important to properly place and align the first course of flooring to ensure continuity throughout the room. Place a mark measuring ¾” plus the width of the flooring on the end wall near the corner of your starting wall. Next, place an identical mark at the opposite corner, and insert nails into both marks. Pull a string between the nails. Nail down the first strip of flooring with its leading edge along the line created by the string. The gap remaining between the strip and the wall is necessary for expansion space and will later be covered by shoe mold.

To rack the floors, lay out seven or eight rows of flooring with the joints at least 6” apart. The flooring should be arranged in a staggered pattern. Cut pieces as necessary to fit within ½” of the end wall, but be sure to monitor your distribution of long and short pieces to avoid clusters of short strips. The nail faces should be cut to slightly less than 1 ½”. Once the first run has been completed, fit each successive run snugly, placing the strips groove-to-tongue. You should blind nail through the tongue following the length of the strip according to the directions provided in the nailing schedule table. Countersink all nails. Once you have successfully installed three or four runs, you may opt to switch to a floor nailing machine which does not require countersinking.

Continue installation across the room, and end on the far wall maintaining the same ¾” expansion space as with the beginning wall. It may be necessary to cut a strip to fit properly. To avoid nailing into a subfloor joint, arrange the slats so that they do not meet over subfloor joints. Blind nail the slats in places where a nailing machine cannot be used. If you are unable to blind nail the final runs by hand, then they should be face nailed.

If there is no solid subfloor and you are nailing directly to screeds, you should place a nail at all screed intersections. You should also nail both screeds in cases where a screed passes over a lapped screed joint.

Once the entire floor is in place, nail shoe molding to the baseboards.

Related Information

Where to Buy Oak Floors

The Benefits of Oak Flooring



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