Installing Plank Flooring

The following instructions apply to 3/4" thick solid wood flooring installations with a plywood Wood joist construction with finished floor running at a right angle to the joistssubfloor over wood joists or screeds

Start by re-nailing any loose areas and sweeping the subfloor clean. Mark the location of joists on perimeter walls so that starting runs and finishing runs, which require face nailing, can be nailed into joists. Then cover subfloor with 30 lb. asphalt felt/building paper. Lap all edges  2 to 4 inches. This helps keep out dust, retards moisture movement from below, and helps prevent squeaks in dry seasons.

Direction of the finished flooring.

Direction of finish flooring should be at right angles to the joists as illustrated to your right. This is generally the longest dimension of the room or building and gives best appearance.

Begin flooring installation along the longest continuous wall parallel to the flooring direction of most rooms. (i.e. Down a long hallway wall.) Work from there into the room.

Starting to lay the floor

Starter Line for Nailing First PlankLocation and straight alignment of the first course is important. Place a mark 3/4" plus the width of flooring (5-1/4" for 5" planks) on the end wall near a corner of starting wall. Place a similar mark at opposite corner and insert nails into each mark. Pull a string line between the nails.

If you're working with screeds over a slab, make the same measurements and stretch a line between nails. Remove the line after you get the starter board in place.

Equally important is allowance for the expansion gap between the starting plank and the wall. The gap is necessary to accommodate normal expansion of the flooring. This area will be hidden by the baseboard and/or shoe mould.

Cross section view of plywood-on-slab construction methodPosition the first plank along the starting string line. With the grooved plank side facing the wall, drive a  7d (2-1/4") screw or 8d (2-1/2") flooring nail or casing nail (galvanized or screw shank hold best) approximately 1" from the grooved edge.

Nails should be driven into the top surface of the plank and counter-sunk (face nailing). Repeat, by driving a nail or screw every 8" along the length of the starter plank. Be careful not to damage the plank face.

For Face Nailing the starter planks to a plywood subfloor over a concrete slab, use a shorter 1-1/2" nail or screw, as recommended in the table below. Too long of nails will not properly set or countersink and will compromise the vapor barrier.

Position nails over supporting joists, and near ends of planks or into each screed crossed. Keep the starter strip aligned with the string line. (Pre-drilling nail holes will prevent splits.) Also, blind nail the starting plank through the tongue.

Rack the floor by laying  out seven or eight rows of flooring end to end in a staggered pattern with end joints at least 6" apart. Find or cut pieces to fit within 1/2" of the end wall. Watch your pattern for even distribution of long and short pieces and to avoid clusters of short boards.

Recommended Blind Nailing Fasteners - choose ONE of the following :

2" to 2-1/4" corrugated flooring nail  (for use with a flooring nailer)

2" to 2-1/4" barbed flooring cleat

15-gauge staple with 1/2 " crowns.

Blind Nail (through the tongue) every 8" along the length of each plank and within 1" to 3" of each plank end.

A special note for blind nailing to a plywood subfloor over a concrete slab: Be sure to request a special shoe or attachment to the nailer that increases the angle of the standard nail. Again, too long of nails will prevent the nail from properly setting and breach the vapor barrier.


Nailing the floor

Blind nail through the tongue along the length of the starting plank according to the schedule shown in the above table. Porta Nailer Flooring Nailer used for installing T&G solid wood flooring.Countersink all face nails.  After the first run is in place you can change from a hammer to a floor nailing tool which drives nails mechanically or pneumatically, and does not require additional countersinking.

Various floor nailing machines use either a barbed nails, cleats or staples, fed into the machine in clips. The nailing tool drives fasteners through the tongue of the flooring at the proper angle while drawing the next plank properly into place.

Position flooring planks and nails so that they do not meet over the subfloor joints. >

Continue installing across the room, fitting each successive run of planks, snugly mating the groove to the tongue until you reach the far wall.

Blind nail by hand where the nailing machine can not be used. Face nail the last runs when unable to blind nail by hand.

Allow for the same 3/4" expansion space as on the beginning wall. It may be necessary to rip a plank to fit.

Use an offset pry bar or lever device to tighten these last face nailed runs all at once before face-nailing.

Special Face-Nailing Recommendations with Wide Plank Flooring:

In order to minimize movement and stabilize planks wider than 5 inches, it is recommended that planks first be blind nailed, as instructed above. Then each plank end be either screwed and filled with a wooden plug or face nailed with a plain or decorative cut nail, as follows:

Flooring or Cut Nail

7d (2") or 8d (8")

Flat , Phillips Head or Drywall Screws & Wood Plugs

#7x2"  or  #9 x 2"

Drive a nail or screw between 1"and  3" of each plank end at the approximate rate of 3 nails per square foot or per the following schedule:

1-nail per 6” wide plank     2- nails per 7" or 8” wide plank

 If using screws, countersink the screw head, fill the hole with wood glue and insert a tapered wood plug, taping lightly with a rubber mallet. Immediately wipe away any excess glue.

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