Nail Installation Wood Flooring

We’ll start this article by saying that learning how to nail hardwood flooring is not an easy task. It’s an intricate process that requires attention to detail, and is not recommended for do-it-yourself installations. It’s best to leave an installation of this complexity to a professional installation team. In addition, nearly all wood flooring warranties require that the floor be installed by the National Wood Flooring Association’s guidelines.

Installing wood floors with nails is a method that can be done with either solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring. Nailing down the floor means that the planks are nailed to the plywood subfloor through the tongue of the plank.

Installation Preparations

First and foremost, wood flooring must acclimate to the environment that it will be installed in. Acclimation is necessary so that the wood, once installed, won’t show signs of abnormal gaps between planks, cupping, crowning, or noise-related issues. The subfloors that the nail installation wood floors are being placed on top of also need to go through adequate preparations before install as well.

  • Test the moisture content of your subfloor. With plywood subfloors, the difference in moisture content between the hardwood planks and the subfloor should be no more than 4%.
  • Clean all residues from the subfloor
  • Check that the subfloor boards are structurally sound and replace any that have been excessively damaged.
  • Make sure all nails are securely in place and not sticking up from the subfloor.
  • Use a 10-foot level tool to make sure the subfloor is level. Smaller levels can be used in tighter spaces.
  • Acclimate the flooring planks to the room temperature. A professional installer can recommend the best acclimation time based on relative humidity and subfloor condition.
  • Control the installation environment. The installation space should be fully enclosed. An open job site could expose the wood flooring to excess moisture from humidity and other elements that could potentially affect the flooring installation.

How to Nail Wood Flooring

  • Apply a 15 lb. felt paper moisture barrier to the plywood subfloor with 6” overlaps before installing the new wood floor per ASTM D-4869.
  • Create a working line parallel to the starting wall, in multiples of our engineered plank width, to set up the baseline of installation.
  • Install the first row of wood with the groove side towards the wall using top nails as necessary to hold the first row firm and in place. Adjust as necessary.
  • Use adjustable pneumatic power hammer or nailing machine with 1 1⁄2” – 2” nails as is required and make sure nailing foot is appropriate to the nails / staples used. To avoid damage to the tongue, be sure to adjust for proper pressure on the compressor.
  • Add each additional row of flooring, watching the pattern repeat and offsetting or staggering the joints as desired. Generally, joints should either match in a specific pattern or be staggered by no less than six inches.
  • Finished areas should be covered with a breathable protective paper, NEVER PLASTIC, immediately after installation to prevent damage. Do not tape protective paper to the finished surface of the wood for extended periods of time.

As mentioned, we highly recommend hiring a professional team for nail down wood installations. GoHaus carries a collection of engineered wood flooring that can be installed with nails over a plywood subfloor. If you’re interested in learning more, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about engineered wood flooring and installation methods. We also offer up to 6 free samples to help you choose the best floor for your space. Contact us at 1-844-334-2877 or to learn more.

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