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how to install 3/4 hardwood flooring thru multiple rooms



"how to install 3/4 hardwood flooring thru multiple rooms," in the Hardwood and Laminates Q&A forum, begins: "hi i am tryng to figure out how to layout and install 3/4 hardwood floor through more than one room ..."

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Old March 7, 2011, 01:02 AM   #1
bob9 ndhlp
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how to install 3/4 hardwood flooring thru multiple rooms


hi i am tryng to figure out how to layout and install 3/4 hardwood floor through more than one room without any transitions. i have attached a rough drawing showing the floor plan, joists run from back to front, hardwood(brown shaded) will run left to right(green lines). the front of the house has a jog to it so i am wondering what is the best way to start so that the hardwood stays square throughout. the longest straight visual line of hardwood is looking from the stairs thu dinning,hallway, living room.
the floor is all one level also.
thanks in advance for any help i can get.
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Last edited by Jim McClain; September 3, 2012 at 02:07 AM.
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Old March 7, 2011, 09:28 AM   #2
Steve Olson
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the front of the house has a jog to it so i am wondering what is the best way to start so that the hardwood stays square throughout. the longest straight visual line of hardwood is looking from the stairs

I would start in that area, running from your stairs back to the living room. Snap a line and start from there. Start straight, stay straight. You need to open several boxes of your flooring, and select your longest, straightest pieces to start with. Snap your line, lay out your felt paper or vapor barrier. Then, layout those pieces along the chalk line, fitting the factory tongue into the groove of the nosing at the stairs, and work back to the wall. I use 6-12 long lengths of the flooring to support that starting row, at each end joint, and every 2 feet or so down the length. Once my row is dead on the chalk line, I use my "backer" pieces to support the row, engaging the T&G and then using my finish nailer to nail down these backers. Once secured, I can use the hardwood nailing gun to secure the row, and subsequent rows, to the sub floor.



You should be using a stair nose, and the flooring T&G needs to engage that nosing. Use spline, or slip tongue to continue the flooring in the opposite direction form your starting point.
I like to start large or multiple room installations in the middle of the largest run, which also helps in the expansion factor of your flooring. The spline is available at flooring supply stores, or possibly where you bought the flooring.

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Old March 7, 2011, 08:50 PM   #3
bob9 ndhlp
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i am just re posting the floor plan cause it did not show up in my first post. also how do you keep the flow of hardwood straight thru all the door openings and back wall if you start in middle of the largest room and how do you get the first reference line.?
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Old March 8, 2011, 12:40 AM   #4
Steve Olson
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I would use the wall in the top of your drawing to create a reference line. measure off that wall. to a spot roughly in the middle of the stairs. You can then measure off that line to the wall that appears in your drawing to be a common wall to the bedroom at the bottom of the drawing. You will probably find that some of the walls may be off a bit. Setting your layout to the longest "Sight" wall is common, you will have to determine that.

Once that is done, just strike new lines off of that to establish your starting point. You can use your chalk line to check your layout line, or your hardwood after a couple feet in width have been installed to see if you are staying straight.

You didn't mention what width wood you are installing, but if you are careful with your layout lines, you may be able to lay out the flooring so the widths break in the middle of the critical doorways. Just measure the width of 5 or 10 boards, before you start installing them, to come up with a width measurement to help you layout the hall.

It's hard to explain the tricks I've learned over the last 30 years in a few sentences, but if it was easy, everyone would do it, and we'd be out of work. There are a lot of little details that go into beautiful installation of a whole house of hardwood. I'd call it am advanced DIY'er task, with a fair amount of risk. Be sure of what you are doing before you start, and know where everything critical will hit, before you start. Do leave the details to chance. Good Luck, and post some pictures of your project!

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Old March 8, 2011, 01:25 AM   #5
Jim McClain
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Steve Olson said View Post
Do leave the details to chance.
I think you mean DON'T leave the details to chance.

I agree with Steve on the starting point - 2, 3, maybe 4 rows running from left side of living room to the steps. Don't forget the stairnose piece at the top step.

But first is the flooring acclimation and prep. You want a nice flat floor, no squeaks, no bounce. Undercut all the door casings and other vertical obstructions and plan your finish trim in advance. You will need slip-tongues (aka spline) everywhere you reverse direction during the installation.

I don't see any dimensions on your diagram. There's some small, blurry green writing I can't make out. But if the room sizes are average, I wouldn't use any transitions between doorways. You'll have to make sure your layout stays square though. You'll have a chance to fudge it a little going through a doorway, but we're only talking a tiny fraction of an inch. I used to lay nice straight scrap strips of any kind of wood to face nail into the subfloor as blocking for the starter rows.

And yeah, what Steve said. We get paid for the help we give you by asking you to post pictures so we can revel in the great job we all did - you and us.

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Old March 8, 2011, 04:03 PM   #6
bob9 ndhlp
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hi i put in more info on diagram (wall measurements and a slight correction on shorter living room wall it was supposed to line up with stair door way kitchen wall)
.i have a bostitch mIII FS air stapler, the hardwood is bellawood 3/4" x 3 1/4" oak, it has been sitting in house for few months while waiting for warmer weather.
i have drawn in a thick yellow line were Steve and Jim suggest to start(thanks for your help guys!). i was wondering if it can be started at the wall adjacent to the stairway door to the back of living room wall(yellow broken line) so as to save on splines? is it okay to have such a long run of spline , is it a week spot and when you install the spline along the start row groves can you put in long full lengths of spline or does it have to be cut the same length of individual hardwood at each joint?
i was wondering if it is possible to start at the other longest run from bathrm to bedrm 1 (blue line) using the long back wall of house as ref.? maybe minimise long runs of spline?
i was also wondering if i could lay the hardwood from the ref line to backwall and leave the front half livrm and kithcen for about a week or more so i can finish tiles in kitchen and put trims and furniture back in the bet rooms(big mess here).
thanks
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Old March 8, 2011, 06:37 PM   #7
Steve Olson
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I think starting against the wall is a pain, and I prefer to start in the middle of a job like that. The spline is there to hold the floor flush, and gives you a place to nail into. Once you have 5-6 rows started and nailed off, you can remove the backer blocks. I place the spline in the groove, then use a short piece of flooring, flush with the nailed rows, and with its groove engaging the spline. (I run the length of the spline across the end joints of the previous row.) Put your nailing gun, (2" staples or cleats) against the block, and nail the backside of the original starting row, through the spline. Yes, it will be double nailed. Then, work your way down the length, and install a few more rows in that direction.

You can stop any place you want, and work in the opposite direction. When you get within a row or two of where you want to stop, run a piece of kraft paper, just under the last row, catching the edge. Leave about 3" under the edge, and then fold the paper back, when you are doing the tile. It will help with the mess. You can use builder paper too, if you rather

I sometimes use the cardboard boxes to cover the floor, make sure they are clean, no grit, and the floor is in the same condition. Be aware the boxes can slide around. I also use them to set tools on as I work across the floor.


Last edited by Steve Olson; March 8, 2011 at 06:45 PM.
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Old March 8, 2011, 07:23 PM   #8
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bob9 ndhlp said View Post
i was wondering if it can be started at the wall adjacent to the stairway door to the back of living room wall(yellow broken line) so as to save on splines?
Don't do it just to save 6' of spline. It may not be worth the minor savings. Although I don't see anything wrong with starting there. You will have to top-nail boards that close to the wall anyway because your nailer won't fit over the tongue. Use a finish nail, countersink and putty the holes.

is it okay to have such a long run of spline , is it a week spot and when you install the spline along the start row groves can you put in long full lengths of spline or does it have to be cut the same length of individual hardwood at each joint?
It is not a weak spot if you use properly fitted spline. I used to glue mine in and nail the board as normal once dry. I was not concerned about the length of a spline as long as it went the full length of the groove on that side. Some of my splines would span 2 boards, some boards had several short sections of spline.
i was wondering if it is possible to start at the other longest run from bathrm to bedrm 1 (blue line) using the long back wall of house as ref.? maybe minimise long runs of spline?
Yes and some installers would do the same, wanting to get the hard part done first. But don't make too much of the use of splines. It's all part of the job and doesn't add much extra work unless you plan to make your own, which I wouldn't advise. The added cost of ready-made spline is good insurance.
i was also wondering if i could lay the hardwood from the ref line to backwall and leave the front half livrm and kithcen for about a week or more so i can finish tiles in kitchen and put trims and furniture back in the bet rooms(big mess here).
thanks
You can stop and start again at any time. There's no rule for DIYers in that regard. As Steve said, work clean and carefully. Take the precautions necessary to safeguard your work.

Jim

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Old March 8, 2011, 08:26 PM   #9
bob9 ndhlp
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i am not understanding what Steve said about using a small piece of flooring flush with the nailed rows and groove engaging the spline then using the flooring gun to nail the backside of the original start row? won't that just nail the flooring on the tongue of the new piece and not put nails into the spline side?
also Jim do you just put some glue in groove and press spline into it or should you put some scrap boards against spline to keep pressure on it till it dries overnight?

what if after i get the hardwood moving along a few feet and notice it starting to drift of square in hallway before the doors? i am going chalk several lines from the ref line down to the bedrm door openings so hopefully i will see if the is any drifting.

i have a 2 1/2' angled finish nailer would you recommend or not using this to nail thru hardwood at the last few rows and top of board on end row next to the wall? and is it good to nail spline in or should i use the stapler for the splines.should i try to nail to every joists along the walls and throughout the room ? we re-screwed the entire 5/8' plywood and glued and stapled 3/8' plywood as underlay, might ricochet off some screws. also i cant see the screw heads anymore after the 3/8th underlay.but i can try a stud sensor if need be.

again thanks for your help

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Old March 8, 2011, 08:48 PM   #10
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am not understanding what Steve said about using a small piece of flooring flush with the nailed rows and groove engaging the spline then using the flooring gun to nail the backside of the original start row?
Sorry, that was unclear. Once you get the spline into place, I use a piece of the flooring to hold the spline in place while I nail it. You know, so the grooves of of the nailed row and the short piece hold the spline aligned??? Think of that block of flooring as a pilot tool to keep the spline in place.
Maybe it isn't necessary, but I don't want it to move out, get nailed, and then keep the next row from snugging in tight.

i am going chalk several lines from the ref line down to the bedrm door openings so hopefully i will see if the is any drifting.
Just use the chalk line to check the first few rows, use it as a straight edge.

what if after i get the hardwood moving along a few feet and notice it starting to drift of square in hallway before the doors?
Don't sweat it to much. Houses and door frames are not as square and plumb as you would like to think. Just start it straight, and it should stay straight. If it's off a little it won't really show, except to you, and you would tell anyone, will ya?

Don't worry about hitting the joists, I would only use the finish nailer where the hardwood stapler won't work. You will most likely hit something that will wad fastener up, or maybe shoot it up through the face of a board you've almost finished nailing off. Use a pair of dykes to pull it out and chalk it up to experience. It has happened to us all, and will happen again. Don't forget the pics, I like before and after

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Old March 8, 2011, 11:50 PM   #11
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If yer comin up the stairs to the hardwood level, yer gonna want that dead on straight. Cause about 6 steps from the top, yer line of sight is right at floor level. Definitely start there, and follow all of Steves advice.....so if it fails, he's on the hook fer it......

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Old March 8, 2011, 11:55 PM   #12
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bob9 ndhlp said View Post
also Jim do you just put some glue in groove and press spline into it or should you put some scrap boards against spline to keep pressure on it till it dries overnight?
Water proof wood glue (Titebond II) dries enough in 2 hours. I used spline that fit tight enough not to have to brace it. If yours is loose or you just want to be extra cautious, make sure it stays in the position it should, whatever method that may be.

what if after i get the hardwood moving along a few feet and notice it starting to drift of square in hallway before the doors? i am going chalk several lines from the ref line down to the bedrm door openings so hopefully i will see if the is any drifting.
I always used a "starting block" system - strips of scrap anything to nail dead on that chalk line. The very first row of wood got slammed up against it and nailed. I did a stair-step sort of layout so I could do 3 or 4 rows at a time across the room, but the first row was always farther ahead of the other rows so I could mind that straight line.

Like Steve said, there ain't no sucha thing as a square house or even a square room. That's why the initial layout is important. I didn't like it when a join fell too close to the wall, in case the wall runs out and you lose the narrow board about half way across the room. If you try to lay it out so there's at least half a width of board or more along both sides of a room, then any minor drift wouldn't be that noticeable.

and is it good to nail spline in or should i use the stapler for the splines.
The spline is an integral part of the hardwood. Use the hardwood nailer just like it was a real tongue on a hardwood board.

should i try to nail to every joists along the walls and throughout the room ?
Hardwood flooring is nailed to a substrate, not joists. You may have trouble if you try to drive your flooring nails into the joists. The length of the fastener should be no more than the combined thickness of the hardwood and subfloor system.

we re-screwed the entire 5/8' plywood and glued and stapled 3/8' plywood as underlay...
One day, someone is going to want to remove that stuff and be cussin' you all day long. In the future, don't do that. It's not necessary to glue the underlayment. Flooring is not a case of if-this-way-is-good-more-must-be-better. Sometimes less really is more than enough.

...might ricochet off some screws.
Yeah, which reminds me: wear eye protection. Protect your knees too. Work safe.

One last request, besides the begging for pictures: please use all the keys on your keyboard, like that big ol' shift key that makes some letters capitals. You paid good money for it, so might as well get your money's worth out of it. It also makes it easier to read your posts.

Best R'gards,

Jim

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Old March 9, 2011, 12:33 AM   #13
bob9 ndhlp
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Sorry for not using caps, and my spelling shortcuts, but i type one finger,one letter at a time and try to take shortcuts.
I have another question or two about he last few rows that the floor gun can't reach. Do you hand nail the tounges or use an angle finish nailer on the tounges then on top of last piece?
What about glue or PL xxxx on the last piece next to wall?

thanks again

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Old March 9, 2011, 12:53 AM   #14
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bob9 ndhlp said View Post
I have another question or two about he last few rows that the floor gun can't reach. Do you hand nail the tounges or use an angle finish nailer on the tounges then on top of last piece?
What about glue or PL xxxx on the last piece next to wall?
I never hand nailed a tongue. I just drove a nail into the face and puttied the hole. If you find just the right grain pattern, it'll never show. 'Course, it depends on the flooring too. Some would require nailing by hand into the tongue, maybe even predrilling too. Three-quarter inch material might not be suitable for glue only though. Maybe glue and use fewer nails on that last row or two. And the very last row can be nailed along the wall and covered with your base shoe or quarter round molding.

Jim

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Old March 9, 2011, 07:57 PM   #15
bob9 ndhlp
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Hey guys its me again, just ran into another potential problem. I have tile in the bath room and tile going into the kitchen.How much space should be left between the tile and hardwood for expansion and a transition cover, and what type of transition cover is best to use?. the tile was laid down in bathrm to be same height as hardwood floor,kitchen setup will be the same.

also your saying it is OK to either use an angled finish nailer or hand nail last couple of rows near walls then hand nail (not finish nailer)the last piece thru the face at end of board when the base board goes?

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