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Engineered Wood Flooring Nail-Down Installation

Engineered wood flooring designed for nail-down (non-floating) installation has tongue-and-groove edges similar to traditional hardwood flooring. Most types can also be used for glue-down applications. Always follow the flooring manufacturer’s instructions. The basic installation follows a standard process:

Unpack and acclimate the flooring planks for three to four days in the room where it will be installed, so that it may acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room. Do not store engineered wood flooring in basements or garages.
Remove the baseboard trim around the perimeter of the room, using a pry bar.

Remove the old flooring, if necessary. Carpet and ceramic tiles floors will likely need to be removed, but a new engineered wood floor can often be laid directly over existing vinyl flooring.

Clean, level, and prepare the subfloor by nailing down loose areas and checking for dips and other imperfections. The smoother and flatter your floor, the better your new installation will be.

Trim door case moldings at the bottom so the new flooring can slide under. Special flush-cutting panel saws are available for this. An electric oscillating saw can also do this job easily.

Install the recommended underlayment for nail-down installation. Sometimes this is ordinary builder’s paper or felt; other manufacturers may recommend some type of foam underlayment.

Begin installing a row of flooring strips along one long wall, using a chalk line as a guide to keep the strips straight. Also, use spacer blocks to create a small gap between the wall and the first row of flooring. In most installations, the first row is nailed through the top face of the flooring (face-nailing), using finish nails.

Install subsequent rows of flooring with a flooring nailer or staple gun, as appropriate. This involves driving the nail or staple through the tongue of each strip, a technique called blind-nailing because the nails are hidden by the next row of flooring. Stagger the joints between strips from one row to the next, for a natural appearance.

Trim and fit flooring pieces as necessary around floor obstructions;

Install baseboard trim, then do a final cleaning of the floor.

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