How Hard is it to Install Hardwood Floors? The Truth

Are you contemplating a move to install hardwood flooring in your home but not sure about the intricacies involved? It may be surprising to learn that homeowners often consider this DIY project more daunting than it truly is.

This blog post offers step-by-step guidance, expert advice, and tips on how to effortlessly install hardwood floors yourself while highlighting some common pitfalls to avoid. Ready for a transformative journey through the world of hardwood floor installation?.

Key Takeaways

  • Installing hardwood floors is a DIY project that can be achieved with the right knowledge and tools.
  • Proper prep work, planning the starting point, racking the boards, face - nailing the first few boards, and locking them in place are important steps for a successful installation.
  • Considerations such as wood types and grain patterns, determining plank width, and having the necessary tools and materials are crucial for achieving desired results.
  • Deciding between professional installation or DIY depends on factors like budget, timeline, skill level, and personal preference.

Professional Installation vs DIY: Is it worth it?

When it comes to installing hardwood floors, one of the biggest decisions you'll face is whether to hire a professional or tackle the project yourself. While DIY installations can save you money upfront, they can also be time-consuming and require a certain level of skill.

On the other hand, hiring a professional guarantees expertise and eliminates the risk of costly mistakes. 

There are several factors to consider when weighing your options for hardwood flooring costs. First, assess your own abilities and comfort level with home improvement projects. Installing hardwood floors requires precise cutting, measuring, and fitting skills that may not come naturally to everyone.

If you have previous experience with similar tasks or feel confident in your woodworking abilities, then DIY could be a viable option for you.

However, if this is your first time taking on such a project or if you lack confidence in your skills, it's worth considering professional installation. Experienced installers have the tools and knowledge necessary to ensure proper subfloor preparation, moisture testing, and seamless installation.

They can also help navigate any challenges that may arise during the process.

Ultimately, deciding between professional installation or going DIY depends on your budget, timeline, skill level, and personal preference. Take into account both short-term savings and long-term satisfaction when making this decision.

It's crucial to weigh all factors before diving into such a significant home improvement project like installing hardwood floors.

Remember that investing in quality materials is equally important regardless of which route you choose – whether hiring professionals or doing it yourself – as using inferior products can compromise the longevity and appearance of your new hardwood flooring in either case.

Steps for Installing Hardwood Floors

Steps for Installing Hardwood Floors

To install hardwood floors, start by doing the necessary prep work, such as removing old flooring and ensuring the subfloor is clean and level. Next, plan your starting point and layout using a chalk line.

Then, rack the boards for easy installation by laying them out in the room to ensure proper fit and pattern. After that, face-nail the first few boards in place to secure them. Finally, lock the boards in place using methods like tongue-and-groove or click-lock systems and finish off the installation by adding any trim or molding necessary for a polished look.

Do the necessary prep work

Initiating the hardwood flooring installation process requires diligent prep work to ensure a smooth and successful operation. The first step lies in clearing out the room including furniture, fixtures, and any existing carpet or tile.

In case you're dealing with a non-wood subfloor, you'll need to either fabricate a wood subfloor using plywood or remove the current flooring to reveal the wood subfloor beneath.

With the room bare, inspect for irregularities on your subfloor such as bumps or dips which can cause issues during installation. In cases where you're installing over concrete floors, make sure it's completely dry to prevent moisture damages.

Thus, setting solid groundwork goes a long way towards avoiding complications down the line when installing your hardwood flooring.

Plan your starting point

Before you jump into installing hardwood floors, it's crucial to plan your starting point. Choosing where to begin can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of the finished floor.

Consider starting in a less noticeable area, such as a closet or an inner corner, to test out your installation skills and ensure you get it right before moving on to more visible areas. Lay your hardwood floors across the floor joists and along the length of the longest wall, while maintaining a ¾-inch gap around the edges for expansion.

When planning your starting point, take into account the direction of natural light in the room and the flow of foot traffic. You'll want to lay the boards perpendicular to joists for optimum stability and durability.

If you're unsure about which way to go, consult with professionals or check out online tutorials that offer guidance on how different layouts can enhance the aesthetics and functionality of your space.

By carefully considering your starting point, you'll set yourself up for success in installing beautiful hardwood floors that will withstand everyday wear and tear while adding timeless elegance to your home.

Rack the boards for easy installation

To make the installation of hardwood floors easier, it's important to rack the boards before starting. Racking refers to laying out the boards in a way that mimics how they will be installed on the floor.

By doing this, you can ensure a more uniform distribution of colors and grain patterns across your flooring. It also allows you to spot any defects or imperfections before nailing them down permanently.

This step might seem small, but it can save you time and frustration during installation, ensuring that your new hardwood floors look fantastic when they're finished.

Face-nail the first few boards in place

To ensure a secure and stable installation, it's important to face-nail the first few boards of your hardwood flooring project. This involves using nails and nail holes to fasten the boards directly into the subfloor, creating a strong foundation for the rest of your installation.

By nailing these initial boards in place, you'll prevent any movement or shifting as you continue with the remaining planks. It's essential to choose an appropriate nail size and spacing that matches your specific flooring material and subfloor type.

Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines and use proper techniques for a successful face-nailing process. Taking this extra step at the beginning will set you up for a smooth and professional-looking hardwood floor installation in your home.

Lock the boards in place and finish the installation

To ensure a secure and polished hardwood floor, it's crucial to lock the boards in place and finish the installation properly. This step involves using a flooring nailer or stapler to fasten each board securely to the subfloor.

By doing so, you create a tight fit between each board and prevent any potential movement or gaps.

Once you've positioned the first few rows of boards, continue adding more in a staggered pattern for stability and an attractive appearance. Use a rubber mallet to gently tap each piece into place, ensuring they connect tightly with adjacent boards.

Be mindful of maintaining an even expansion gap along all walls and transitions.

After placing all the boards, review them carefully for any imperfections or unevenness. If needed, adjust individual planks by tapping them lightly with a mallet until they align perfectly.

Pay close attention to join lines between different sections of your floor, as well as around doorways or tricky corners.

Considerations for Installing Hardwood Floors

Considerations for Installing Hardwood Floors

Consider the different wood types and grain patterns when installing hardwood floors, as they can greatly impact the overall look and style of your space. Determine the plank width that best suits your design preferences and room size for a harmonious aesthetic.

Wood types and grain patterns

Choosing the right wood type and grain pattern is an important consideration when installing hardwood floors. Different wood species have distinct characteristics that can impact the overall look and durability of your floors.

For example, oak is known for its strength and resistance to wear, while maple offers a light and bright appearance. The grain pattern also plays a role in the visual appeal of your floors.

Some homeowners prefer a consistent grain pattern for a more uniform look, while others opt for more pronounced variations for added character. By understanding these factors, you can select the perfect wood type and grain pattern to suit your home's style and needs.

Determining plank width

One important consideration when installing hardwood floors is determining the plank width. This decision can greatly impact the overall look and feel of your space. The width of the planks you choose will depend on a few factors, such as the size of your room and personal preference.

Generally, wider planks tend to make a room look more spacious and can create a modern, luxurious feel. On the other hand, narrower planks can give a traditional or rustic appearance.

It's also important to consider the dimensions of your existing flooring to ensure that the new hardwood boards fit seamlessly with any adjoining rooms or hallways. By carefully selecting the right plank width for your project, you can enhance both the aesthetics and functionality of your hardwood floors.

Tools and Materials Needed for Installation

To ensure a successful installation of flooring materials, it's essential to have the right tools and materials on hand. Here are some key items you'll need for the job:.

  1. Measuring tape: Accurate measurements are crucial when cutting and fitting hardwood boards together.
  2. Circular saw or miter saw: These power tools will help you make precise cuts in the wood.
  3. Chalk line: Use this tool to mark straight lines and guide your installation process.
  4. Pry bar: A pry bar will come in handy for removing existing baseboards or trim before installing hardwood flooring.
  5. Flooring nailer or stapler: This specialized tool helps secure each board tightly to the subfloor, minimizing movement over time.
  6. Air compressor: If you're using a pneumatic flooring nailer or stapler, you'll need an air compressor to provide the necessary power.
  7. Leveling tools: A long level and leveling compound can help ensure that your subfloor is flat and even before laying down the hardwood planks.
  8. Underlayment material (if required): Depending on your specific project, you may need underlayment material such as rosin paper or foam padding to provide added support and insulation beneath the hardwood boards.
  9. Safety gear: Don't forget essential safety equipment like gloves, safety glasses, dust masks, and knee pads for protection while working with power tools and handling heavy materials.

By having these tools readily available before starting your hardwood floor installation project, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any challenges that may arise along the way efficiently and effectively.


In conclusion, installing solid wood floors can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it is definitely achievable for DIY homeowners. By following the proper steps and considering important factors such as wood types and plank width, you can successfully complete a stunning hardwood flooring installation.

While professional installation may offer convenience and expertise, tackling this project yourself can save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment. So go ahead and take on the challenge - with patience and attention to detail, your beautiful hardwood floors await!


1. Is installing hardwood floors a difficult task?

Installing wood floors can be a challenging task that requires skill and precision. It is recommended to hire a professional installer for the best results.

2. Do I need any special tools or equipment to install hardwood floors?

Yes, installing hardwood floors typically requires specialized tools such as a nail gun, miter saw, and floor stapler. These tools ensure proper installation and help achieve a seamless finish.

3. How long does it take to install hardwood floors?

The time required to install hardwood floors varies depending on various factors including the size of the area, the type of flooring (solid or engineered wood flooring or even laminate flooring) being installed, and any additional preparation work needed. On average, it can take several days to complete the installation process.

4. Can I install hardwood floors myself or should I hire a professional?

While it is possible to install hardwood floors yourself if you have experience in carpentry or solid hardwood flooring installation, it is generally recommended to hire a professional installer. They have the necessary expertise and equipment to ensure a high-quality installation that will last for years.