Step 3: Install the first course

Marking the measurement
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Lay down the first plank with its grooved end in the corner against a spacer block. Also place spacers along the starting wall. As you set the flooring, always keep the tongues facing out and cut ends against a wall.

To fill in the pieces in the first course, place a spacer against the wall, and measure from it to the last plank installed.

Mark this measurement on a new plank, starting at the grooved end so it will mate with the tongue of the last plank. Cut the plank to length.

Apply glue to the end groove of the new piece, and install.

Slip a pry bar between the end of the plank and the spacer and lever the joint together. Then push the piece down in place. Remove excess glue with a damp cloth.

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    Tools List

    • power flush cut saw
      Flush-cut dovetail saw,
      to trim door casings
    • miter saw
      Miter saw,
      for cutting flooring and molding to length
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw or circular saw,
      to rip flooring to width
    • hammer
      Hammer and nail set,
      for tapping planks together and installing molding
    • flat prybar
      Flat bar,
      to pry last plank into place
    • coping saw
      Coping saw,
      for coping molding's inside corners

    Shopping List

    1. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

    sold in bundles of 11 to 30 square feet. Calculate the square footage of the room, then add 10 percent to account for off-cuts



    2. FOAM UNDERLAYMENT

    sold in 3- or 4-foot-wide rolls



    3. DUCT TAPE

    to seal foam underlayment seams



    4. 5/16-INCH SPACERS

    to create expansion gaps between flooring and walls



    5. GLUE

    use only the type recommended by the flooring manufacturer



    6. PAINTER'S TAPE

    7. TRANSITION MOLDING

    8. QUARTER-ROUND SHOE MOLDING

    9. 1 1/2-INCH (4D) FINISH NAILS

    for attaching shoe molding