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Install Wood Strip or Laminate Flooring

Step 2: The First Boards

Having chosen a starting point and assembled your tools, it's time to get some floor on the floor.

A Matter of Width

Before nailing the first board, divide the dimension across the room by the width of the flooring. If you would have a skinny closing strip—say less than 1"—it's best to ripsaw the starting strips first.

To give the starting and finishing boards the same width, calculate the width of the last board, add this amount to the width of a full board, and divide by 2. Assuming the last board would be 34", here's the math:

  • 34" + 234" = 3 12"
  • 312" / 2 = 134" = width of first and last board

If the first wall is not straight, see the sidebar on scribing at the end for a fast way to adjust the first board to fit.

Nailing Floor

Finally, the preparations are over. To make a starting line, measure one board width (either 2 34" or whatever you calculated for the starting board) from the wall and draw a line.

It's critical to get the first line of boards right. If the wall bulges toward your string, move the line slightly to compensate.

Step 3: Working Across the Floor

Work speeds up when you get away from the starting line. Craig and Mike were using a pneumatic (air-powered) floor nailer. You'll have to rent either a manual or pneumatic nailer. It's impossible to nail a floor right without one or the other: Nailers not only put the nail in the right place, they also snug the strips at the same time.

A chop saw cuts the last board in every row to length—18" less than the actual measurement to the end wall.

Before nailing, make sure every board is tight to its neighbor—you won't get a second chance. Tight fit is critical. To slam a board into place, pound on a scrap of flooring; don't mash the flooring with your hammer. If it still won't fit, the board may be too warped to use whole, though you may be able to cut it and use part of it.

Once you start to use the floor nailer, the work will speed up. As you work your way across the room, measure to the far wall to make sure you're still parallel to it. When you no longer have room for the floor nailer, return to face nailing, taking extra care that the boards fit tight.

A nailer sets the nails deep enough to leave room for wood filler. You can do the same thing with a nailset.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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