How to Install Wood and Vinyl Flooring
Do it yourself but don’t do it alone
New flooring can completely transform your home. With the right tools and our help, you can learn how to install wood flooring and luxury vinyl flooring. We have compiled a quick instructional flooring installation guide that will give you all the basic information to on how to install flooring. We also offer a video chat feature for customers that have purchased wood flooring, LVT flooring or carpeting through Summers DIY Flooring Center. If you get stuck in the process of installing your floors, you can video chat with our pro installers.
1) Prepare Your Subfloor
To get started on your DIY floor install, completely remove any debris from your subfloor, clean the subfloor and flatten your subfloor within the tolerance set by the manufacturer using a floor scraper or hand planar. Sand any plywood seams that appear to be uneven so that they’re same height. Next, remove the baseboards and undercut doorjambs using a plank of your new flooring as a template guide for the height. Our DIY kit includes the tools that you’ll need for preparing your subfloor.
2) Starting Line for Your Subfloor
Find your longest stretch of new flooring area. Place flooring boards against starting walls leaving an expansion gap between the flooring and the drywall (1/4” spacing works for most flooring). Make a mark on the floor at the outside edge of the boards and snap a chalk line. Measure off of the chalk line to walls to make sure the start line is relatively square to all walls. You may need to adjust the line as necessary. No home is perfectly square so you will want to focus on being square to important areas such as transitions to other floors, doorways etc. This will be your starting line.
Take your first row of boards and face the groove towards the starting wall. Pin nail 1⁄2” back from the grooved edge at 6” intervals and no closer than 1-2” from the ends. Make sure all nails are countersunk. Use pin nailer to “blind nail” through the tongue at a 45 degree angle at the same intervals. Make sure all nails are countersunk to ensure flush engagement of groove with the following rows until pneumatic stapler / nailer can be used but in intervals of 6”-8”
3) Laying out the Flooring
Open boxes / bundles, pull flooring materials from several boxes at a time to make sure colors are mixed throughout project. Start loosely laying out flooring. Keep 6-10” out from the installed starting row to allow room for nailer to have access to nailing area. Keep flooring boards staggered minimum of 6” from end joints and not straight across from rows (2 rows previous) known as “H” patterns.
At the end of the row flip the last board around and mark it for length and make your cuts. You can mark and cut multiple boards at the same time.
4) Main Floor Installation
Pull first row of loose flooring boards against starting row using a mallet and tapping block to ensure tight fit on all sides and ends. Follow a nailing pattern that leaves 6”- 8” between staples. Use a spacer if necessary to keep 3/8” – 1/4” expansion gap around all edges. Failure to leave the expansion gap will void any product warranty. Install one row at a time. Flooring boards 5” or wider will require using an S curve pattern of “construction subfloor” adhesive in addition to nailing. For the final row measure the distance to the wall including the expansion gap and make your cut using a table saw or jig saw. Continue this process throughout your project.
5) Last Row Installation
For the last few rows you will need to use a pin nailer again as the floor stapler will not fit. You can use a pry bar to pull boards tight. You will need to blind nail through the tongue and top nail when blind nailing is no longer possible. Top nail floors where baseboards will cover whenever possible.
Congratulations! You’ve just learned how to install wood flooring yourself. Your floors should look beautiful for many years to come. Caring for and cleaning your flooring is vital to it’s long life. Always clean water off of wood floors immediately. Luxury vinyl flooring is water proof, but the subfloor below that vinyl must be protected from water damage as well. Frequently sweep up debris from your floor to prevent scratching. For cleaning, we recommend Bona® cleaning products for wood flooring and LVT which we carry in our showroom in Meridian, Idaho. To learn more about our DIY program, please contact us today.