Step 5: Toenail the flooring

Laying the first course
Photo: Kindra Clineff
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Once the first course is in place, drive 1 1/2 inch brads at a 45-degree angle through the strip's tongue and into the subfloor, a technique called toenailing. Repeat every 4 inches. Don't nail closer than 2 inches from the end of the strip.

Slip the second course of flooring over the tongues of the first and snug up the strips with a mallet or a tapping block and hammer.

As you go, offset end joints by at least 12 inches from those in the first course. Toenail them with the brad nailer as before, but don't facenail.

Because there are tongues and grooves milled into the ends of this flooring, the ends shouldn't be cut, except when they meet a wall or obstruction.

Tip: Choose each piece of flooring for length, not color or grain. The farther apart you stagger the end joints, the better the floor will look.

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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