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Photo Gallery: The Experience Wood Flooring Project

     Given that I am somewhat of a bonehead, one day I got the idea to install hardwood flooring in my house. After talking to people who had done it and a few reps from my local Home Depot (take a number, please) store. I decided it was something I could handle. And actually it was. What I have done here is recorded my experience so I may be of help to any other boneheads who are thinking about doing this themselves. Workload wise, Its probably the male equivalent to giving birth, but the results are astounding at worst.

Supplies I used:
1 Bostich "air assisted" blind nailer
1 Portable Skill hand saw
1 Permanent marker
1 Measuring tape
1 Hammer
1 Box of 3" floor nails
10 boxes of blind nail cartridges
350 sq. ft. of 1/2in. #1 Red Oak flooring strips (tongue & groove / varying length)

Something to think about before you start,

The argument for real wood:
- It can easily be repaired
- It is easily cut to fit
- It is strong, will last the life of house
- It can be resurfaced indefinitely
- It needs no guarantees
- It looks stunning and natural
- Even as it wears it looks good
- It is hard to install
- It is costly
- It requires rental of machinery
- Requires use of dangerous chemicals
The argument for manufactured floors i.e., Pergo:
- Very easy to install
- No (dangerous) chemicals
- Very cost effective
- Difficult to repair
- Can not be resurfaced
- Most do not look natural
- Adhesive will eventually fail
- Usually pieces are difficult to modify



When you rip up your carpeting his is what you get when you are unfortunate enough to only have floorboard underneath your carpeting. When you look at this, it gives you a lot of insight into how cheaply houses are made. Most of these boards were uneven, cracked and shockingly different sizes.

If you have any creaks in your floor, now is the time to fix them before you put the flooring in. You can do this by driving nails into the area that is creaking (use a stud finder to locate your support boards). If there are no support boards in the area you may need to get underneath the floor and install one between the cross beams. This sucks especially if hate spiders.

After the carpeting has been ripped up, if your house is older it may be a good idea for you to seal the floorboards. You can do this with just about any type of plain old latex paint, but they do make special sealers for floorboards.

If you look at the picture to the right, underneath where I am standing the floor is white. This is because I sealed the floorboards with KILLZ brand sealer. This is a special sealer that also kills mold. Since I am allergic to mold I figured it was worth the extra $$.


If you will also notice in the picture above I am laying down long strips of paper over the sealed floorboards. This paper is called AQUABAR. What this does is puts a layer of protection between the floorboards and the sensitive wood flooring that will be installed over it. Aquabar comes in varying thickness. The thicker the Aquabar the grater the protection against water and other sources of moisture. And of course the greater the impact on your budget.

I was not particularly concerned about this so I purchased the thinnest and cheapest I could find at Home Depot.

After the Aquabar is secured in place, (tape will do fine) you will want to start laying down boards at one end of the room. Lay down about 10 rows just to get a feel for what you are doing and if there are any special patterns that you want to get out of the wood (if you have time for this you need to get a life, by the way). DO NOT worry about fitting boards exactly across the room! Leave a gap and when you get to nailing that row, cut a piece to fit.

My lovely wife assisted me with laying down some boards here. This was the last time she was seen in this room. Amazingly though, after I finished the work she showed up again. Man, I was really starting to worry there...


Many books will tell you that you need to leave a 1/4 of an inch gap between the drywall and the wood strips. I was told by a professional not to worry about this. Drywall has a good amount of give to it, and if your floor gets enough moisture to expand more than 1/4 of an inch, you have big problems that need to be addressed. The only thing I made sure of was that the wood was not so tight as to put force against the drywall.

<-- This here is a air assisted BOSTICH "Blind Nailer". Yes, I know, it doesn't quite have that reassuring sound to it. Its called a "blind nailer" because you can't see where the nails are going in. It fires them diagonally into the side of the wood strips and anchors them into the floorboards. Otherwise if you nailed the wood strips in from the top you would see the nails holes.

This is an air assisted blind nailer, the red hose leading out of the back is connected to an electric air pump. they do make non air assisted ones but ohhhhhh, is that my arm that just fell off?? I highly suggest you get an air assisted device.

When you start nailing, you will have to do the first 5 or so rows by hand. This sucks but when you see the nailer you will understand why. It is possible tough to get a hand nail gun for this.

You will need a some sort of hand saw to cut the strips of wood that will fit into the gaps near the wall that you left when laying the wood out.


As you can see here from the finished product the results are fabulous.

I do have to admit though that I did not do the sanding and finishing of the floor myself. I decided that this was going to be more than I could handle given that the sanding is extremely messy and potentially dangerous. I would suggest you research this part of the process before deciding what is best for you. I called Sargent's Wood Floors (Located in Portland, Oregon), they came out to the house and did a fantastic job of sanding and finishing the floor. They were very reasonably priced as well.

The most difficult part is that you will have to find somewhere else to stay while this is being done if you don't have a room far enough away or that can be sealed off (air tight) from the work area. The sanding will cause huge dust problems (if you use heavy equipment) and the odor of the finnish is pretty unbearable (not to mention toxic) for at lease 2 days after its been applied. So consider this when planning your project.

If you'll notice where the carpet meets the wood here there is a special board called a "decline". This is really great to use when your wood floor is going to meet up with another surface. It provides a step down (or up) to the adjoining surface.



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