For those that read the blog often or follow FOXY OXIE on Instagram (THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!), you have watched as little by little our bungalow blossomed into a real house. But since it’s been a few weeks from the last progress report, I figured it was time for an update from the magical world of renovations.
Since we last spoke, I’ve begun assembling our IKEA kitchen cabinets, which has quite possibly been the biggest test of patience yet. Also, as this article title already revealed, we installed hardwood flooring in the parts of the house where there were none.
This fact alone calls for a major, MAJOR celebration.
In the beginning, we hired someone to install the hardwood, but as it turned out, they had better things to do with their time – like go on vacation.
Honestly I can’t say I blame them. If I had the choice to install hardwood floors or go to the beach, I’d be stupid not to pick the latter.
But unfortunately, I didn’t have that choice, and with deadlines zooming past us at the speed of light, this situation left us in a bit of a pickle. With no time to find a replacement, we figured we may as well tackle the remainder of the project ourselves.
Between me being a tile-laying master and all and my husband the handyman, we figured: How difficult could it possibly be?
Oh, the sweet naiveté of DIY-ers. Spoiler alert: While it’s not necessarily difficult, it’s most definitely TIME CONSUMING.
So in my typical fashion, I’ve turned this hardwood floors-laying adventure into a hopefully helpful guide – just in case someone else out there also found themselves in a hardwood floors-laying pickle.
Without further ado, a few tips for DIY hardwood floors installation:
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 1: Acclimation Period
Plan for few days’ acclimation period for the moisture content of your wood to adjust to the environment in which it’s expected to perform. When the wood is delivered to your house or project site, make sure that the living conditions are normal – not too hot, not too cold, not too humid – open the packaging, detach the planks into smaller pieces and simply let the wood “breathe” for a few days.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 2: Layout
When installing, be intentional about the boards you choose. If you’re expecting for every single board you paid for to be usable, that simply won’t be the case. The industry allows a tolerance of 5% for defective boards, so discard any uneven, damaged or deformed planks. Consider the high-traffic areas, installing only the best boards where they’ll be more visible.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 3: Necessary Tools and Materials
You will need to either buy or rent an air compressor, compound miter saw, table saw, hardwood floors nailer and 2-inch hardwood staples. After doing a ridiculous amount of research, I was set on having hardwood floors in the entire house (except for the bathrooms). So we had to find an alternative to nailing the wood for the areas that had concrete sub-flooring. We ended up gluing the floors down in the kitchen, entryway and mudroom – but not before applying a very expensive concrete primer ($250 per bucket) to seal the concrete from moisture. While not necessarily the most budget-friendly option, it worked for us. If you’re considering gluing hardwood floors over concrete, but your installer or general contractor is looking at you like you’re crazy, the National Wood Flooring Association published a helpful article about the process of installing wood floors over concrete slabs. It’s a great place to start educating yourself and weighing your options.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 4: Measuring & Cutting
Measuring and cutting the hardwood floors is possibly the most time consuming part of the project – especially if you’re installing 1.5-inch boards like we were. If possible, team up with a buddy to streamline an effective system. I would measure and mark the cut lines while the husband installed the floors. Despite my ample experience with the tile saw, I was hesitant to step near the compound miter saw, so the husband also had to periodically take a break from installing to cut the wood I had marked. When measuring and cutting, be sure you’re leaving the recommended expansion gap around the perimeter of the room, which will later be hidden behind the baseboards anyway.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 5: Transitions
Figure out the room-to-room transition situation before beginning any floor installations. Transitions are the spaces in the doorway between two adjacent rooms. You want to eliminate as many transitions as possible so that the majority of your flooring is on the same level. Of course, in certain situations transitions are unavoidable.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 6: New vs. Old
Speaking of unavoidable, if you already have hardwood floors installed in parts of the house, you’ll have to accept the fact that no matter how hard you try, the two will not be a perfect match. Wood tends to change in color as it matures, so the flooring that was installed back in 1930 simply can’t match the flooring installed in 2016 – even if you use the exact same wood and stain.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 7: Straight Lines
Take the necessary time to ensure that the first row you lay is straight, since it determines how straight the rest of the floor will be. Don’t rely on your drywall to be straight – especially if your house is a 1930 bungalow that had been completely abandoned for 20 years.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 8: Screws vs. Nails
For the final pieces parallel to the walls, most people opt to attach them by nailing to the top of the board. We found an even better solution: solid wood screws. Screws are better fasteners than nails, and if you use the proper kind then you don’t even have to pre-drill a hole.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 9: Cleanup
Take the time to clean the space as you work if you want to avoid a couple hours’ worth of cleaning up after you thought you were done for the day. For whatever reason, we waited til the end to clean everything, and I literally spent 8 straight hours going gathering the discarded boards, sweeping sawdust, taking out bags of garbage, and cleaning up the mess we had made in the weeks prior.
Tips for DIY Hardwood Floors Installation | No. 10: Timeframes
If you take away one thing from this list of tips, I hope it’s this: These types of projects take much, much longer than you originally expect, so try to be a little more realistic when estimating the completion time.
I hope you found this roundup of advice useful. If you have any other questions about installing hardwood floors, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to address each and every one.
As for our timeline, we’re hoping to sand all of the floors this weekend, then stain over the next week. Afterwards there are baseboards and window trimmings to install, kitchen cabinets to finish assembling and hanging, a custom peninsula to build and install, bathroom fixtures and vanities to install in both the guest and master bathroom, a few light fixtures here and there left to hang, that eyesore of a fireplace to fix, and hopefully then it’s move-in day!
I’ll be back oh-so-soon with more updates from the magical world of bungalow renovations, and in the meantime, please keep your fingers (and toes) crossed for us to make lots of progress over the next week. To catch up on what we’ve renovated so far, you can browse “Our Bungalow Renovation” series.
For more interior design inspiration and advice, check out 12 Things to Look Forward to After a House Remodel, 10 Essentials for Mid-Century Modern Living, Mirrors of Every Style for Under $200, 12 Tips for Buying IKEA Kitchen Cabinets, Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Paint for the Whole House, Home Renovation Progress Report: Choosing Lighting Fixtures, 10 Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space, My House Wish List, Home Renovation Checklist, 10 Best Home Decor Websites to Bookmark Now, and 10 DIY Projects to Add Character to Your Home.