Step 4: Set the starter course

Setting the starter course
Photo: Kindra Clineff
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Start laying the floor in a corner, along the longest exterior wall, which is more likely than a partition wall to be straight and square.

Place 1/2-inch-thick spacers against the wall and adjacent wall. This will create expansion gaps that prevent buckling. Butt the grooved-edge of a long strip of flooring against the spacers.

With a mallet, snug together the ends of more long strips. At the end of the course, fit a strip (no shorter than 10 inches) 1/2 inch from wall.

When the first course is set, place a straightedge against the tongues. Slide the flooring in or out until the tongues line up with the straightedge.

Using a brad nailer loaded with 1 1/2-inch brads, facenail each board every 8 inches and within 1 inch of the wall. Adjust the nailer to set the brads slightly below the floor surface. Check tongue alignment as you go.

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    Tools List

    • straightedge guide
      Straightedge
    • hand saw
      Handsaw
      for trimming door casing
    • pneumatic brad nailer
      Pneumatic brad nailer
      for fastening the first courses of flooring
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
      for cutting flooring strips to length(alternative: backsaw with a miter box
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw
      for trimming pieaces to fit around vents and other obstacles (alternative: coping saw)
    • pneumatic staple gun
      Pnuematic staple gun
      for securing flooring to subfloor (alternative: hammer stapler)
    • notched trowel
      Notched trowel
      for spreading adhesive for glue-down installations
    • plaster trowel
      Plaster trowel
      for spreading filler to level subfloor
    • combination square
      Combination square
    • utility knife
      Utility knife
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • pull bar
      Pull bar
    • tapping block
      Plastic tapping block
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • tacker hammer
      Hammer tacker
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • drill
      Drill
    • air compressor
      Air compresor

    Shopping List

    1. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORS

    2. MASKING TAPE

    for holding together glued-down boards until the adhesive sets



    3. PATCHING COMPOUND

    used to fill low spots in subfloor



    4. 15-POUND BUILDER'S FELT

    for use as an underlayment



    5. RING-SHANK NAILS OR PHILLIPS-HEAD SCREWS

    for securing subfloor, if necessary