Nail Down Solid Hardwood Flooring

HomeInstallationNail Down Solid Hardwood Flooring

Buy enough material

Be sure to add enough extra hardwood for waste and cutting. Buy 5% more for regular install and 10% more for installation of boards set at 45 degrees.

Acclimate material

All engineered floors should be put in the house where it is to be installed 3 to 5 days prior to installation.

Prepare Sub Floor

Check for subfloor levelness and for squeaks. Shim between subfloor and joist to get rid of low spots and belt sand any high spots. Remove baseboards. Screw down subfloor.

Determine layout and starting point

Check room for squareness and establish starting row next to a square wall. Install hardwood across floors joist.

Get necessary tools

Chalk line & nail set, tape measure, floor nailer, power drill, nails & underlay paper, miter-saw, table saw, back saw/door jam cutter, safety glasses & dust masks.

The first row

Leave 1/2″ space from starting wall or baseboard for expansion purposes. Place chalk line to stay true while laying the first row. Pre-drill and top-nail boards by hand 1/2″ in from grove side every 8″ intervals. Use nail set. Then pre-drill at 45-degree angle on top of tongue and nail by hand every 8″ interval. Nail-set these nails.

The second row

First roll out a sheet of underlay paper next first-row, staple down if necessary. Lay out your second row next to the first row and pre-drill at 45degree angle on tongue and nail by hand every 8″ interval. Nail-set these nails.

Laying the floor

Use the floor nailer for the following rows. Lay out three rows of flooring at a time before nailing (called “racking”) to ensure that boards are random in grain and colour. Make sure butt ends of boards are offset at 6 inches from the previous row. Nail at every 6-8 inch intervals.

The final rows

When there is no space to use the floor nailer, pre-drill last few rows on the tongue at 45-degree angle and nail by hand (See nailing 2nd row) Rip last boards to fit leaving 1/2″ gap from the wall. Pre-drill, top-nail, and nail set on the last row. Fill nail holes with putty. Cut any door jams and fit floor underneath. Install any required reducers at door thresholds.

Finishing trim

Re-install baseboards and quarter-round and fill any nail holes with the appropriate colour of putty filler.


Sweep or vacuum any dust and pick up any stray nails that can scratch your new floor. Make sure to place felt pads underneath furniture and carefully move back furniture by lifting it into place. Clear your floor on a regular basis.