Random-length tongue & groove planks? First step - plan it VERY carefully. Get a floor staper or floor nailer - buy one from Harbor Freight instead of renting one. You\'ll need an air compressor capable of powering the flooring nailer; I find that a 5-gallon 2HP compressor is just about enough.
Also get a miter saw before you start, and a drill motor, and a claw hammer and a "Flooring installation kit" from Harbor Freight (they\'re handy), and it\'s worth doing to get a flooring jack from the same place. You\'ll need a triangular layout square or adjustable square and several pencils.
Be prepared for some heavy carrying. Boxes of flooring are heavy, especially at the end of a long day.
Figure out how many square feet to lay, and add 10% to 20% for waste, depending upon how careful you figure you are. I just laid 2400 square feet of it with only about 1% waste, but I\'m VERY careful.
Buy your flooring and stack the boxes inside the room where you\'ll be laying it down. Leave it there, untouched, for no less than three weeks to acclimate to the humidity in that room - longer is better. You can\'t wait too long.
Also buy at least one roll of red rosin-impregnated flooring paper and get hold of a stapler for it. You\'ll also need plenty of flooring staples/nails.
Plan which orientation the flooring will be laid - it usually runs along the longest walls. Plan which side of the room to start on. Find everything you\'ll need to fit around and figure out how to fit the flooring around those obstructions. Heating pipes, ducts, chimney, etc. Places where one piece will wrap partway around an obstruction will be challenging because you\'ll need to make one or two crosscuts and a short rip between them - I prefer to use a bandsaw for the short rip, but you CAN use a handheld sabre saw.
Prepare the underlayment. Get it VERY CLEAN. Sweep often while you work. OFTEN. Don\'t allow any dirt or sawdust or anything under the flooring.
Staple a strip of rosin paper to the floor along the starting wall. It should reach all the way from one end to the other, and it should have NO WRINKLES. If you tear it (it does tear easily), staple both sides of the tear down flat. Sweep again.
Beginning at the starting wall, lay out enough planks to reach all the way along the room to the other end, leaving enough to cut off - you\'ll need the cut-off scrap to start the next course, so select that last piece with a length such that the cut-off scrap\'s end will not coincide with any joint in the first course; the joints in each course should not be nearer than about 6" from the joints in the preceding course - always always remember that, and select planks religiously with that in mind.
Drill a line of holes along the groove edge of the first course of planks. The holes should barely be big enough to fit a #6 finishing nail; I think a 5/64" drill bit is about the right size. The holes should be about 2" from each end of each plank, and about every 6" along the length of the plank. The holes should be near to the groove edge, about 1/2" from the edge, and angled toward the wall at the bottom - when you drive those nails in, you don\'t want your hammer to hit the wall.
Also drill a matching set of holes along the tongue edge, but these holes will be different. This time, start the hole on top of the TONGUE, where it meets the plank, and angle the drill slightly so the drill bit exits the bottom of the PLANK, not the bottom of the groove. If you just drill through the groove, you\'ll never get the next plank to fit over the tongue.
Now very very carefully lay out the planks for that first course. If this one course isn\'t absolutely straight, the rest of the floor will just get worse from there. Keep the groove edge of the first course 5/8" to 3/4" away from the wall along its full length - you may need to replace existing baseboard to do that. Later, you\'ll hide the gap when you put the baseboard back down.
When you\'re SURE that the first course is laid out straight, drive nails into the groove edge holes to hold it there. Drive them down flush with the hammer, then sink them slightly with a nail set (the right size for #6 nails). When you\'re finished, go back and nail down the tongue edge, too, one nail per drilled hole. Also set those nails with your nail set.
Carefully cut that last plank so that its end is 5/8" to 3/4" from the far wall. Carry the cutoff back to the starting point.
Put away your drill & nails & nailset for a while - you won\'t need them again until you get to the opposite wall (or have an obstruction to deal with). From here for the rest of the floor, you\'ll need the flooring stapler/nailer.
Starting with your cutoff, now select the second coarse of planks. You should be selecting planks from several boxes at the same time; the finish may be slightly different from box to box, and it\'s better to have the differences show up randomly than to have them show up in patches.
Select each plank so that its end doesn\'t coincide with the joints in the first course. Remember, 6" is the closest they should be. Also remember the last plank - cut it again so its cutoff end won\'t coincide with the first (cutoff) plank in this second course - it\'ll be used to start the third course.
When you have your planks selected, this time there\'s no need to drill anything - you\'ll use the flooring stapler/nailer. Connect it to the compressor and carry it and its special mallet to your starting point.
Before you staple/nail, the second course of planks needs to be driven into place against the first course. The plastic block from your "flooring installation kit" is perfect for the task. The groove from each course should completely cover the tongue from the previous course, and all joints should be driven VERY TIGHT before stapling/nailing. Some planks will be slightly curved - you can usually start one end, then drive the other end into place (you may need the flooring jack to help with this) before stapling/nailing it the rest of the way.
If you need to use the flooring jack in the middle of the floor, just nail a short piece of 2x4 to the floor and jack against it. Use scaffold (two heads) nails, so it\'ll be easy to remove.
Drive staples/nails with the flooring stapler/nailer about every 6" along the tongue edge of this course. The tool is built to hook over the tongue edge and drive the staples/nails at an angle so the fasteners won\'t interfere with the fit of the next course of planks. One staple/nail should be about 2" from each end of each plank, 6" (roughly) between staples/nails. Yes, it\'s a LOT of staples/nails when you add them all up - 2000, 3000 per room.
Once in a while a staple/nail won\'t drive correctly. You\'ll need to either break it off or pull it out before driving another. You\'ll need to use your imagination - there are lots of approaches. Dig it out with a screwdriver, grab it with diagonal wire cutters, pull it with fencing pliers, use electrician\'s pliers and a pry bar. Do whatever it takes. Some will simply break off - the steel they use to make \'em gets pretty brittle when you bend it back & forth a couple of times. While you\'re worrying one out, use a putty knife to protect the flooring from your tools.
When you\'ve laid enough courses to get within one plank\'s width from the far edge of your red rosin paper, stop and staple down another course of paper, overlapping the first course by about 4". Do this every time you "run out of paper". The paper will eventually cover the whole floor, under your new plank floor.
Just about the time you staple down that second strip of rosin paper, gather up empty flooring boxes and start putting your tools on them, including the air compressor. When you\'re about halfway across the room, you\'ll move all your tools (including the air compressor) up onto the new flooring, and the cardboard boxes will help protect the nice new floor from damage from your tools.
Continue to work across the room - paper and flooring - until you get so close to the far wall that you\'re in danger of bumping the wall with the flooring stapler/nailer\'s mallet. It WILL leave an AWFUL black mark in the wall. Put an ordinary sock over its rubber pull to help prevent the marks. The last course you can staple/nail with that tool will be the course where you have to really choke up on the mallet to get it into the narrow space between the tool & the wall. Finish that course and put the tool away, turn off the compressor, get them out of the room.
The next course of flooring will need to be drilled & hand-nailed again, this time ONLY along the tongue edge, but otherwise exactly as you drilled the tongue edge of the first course.
The last course will need to be ripped to width (a borrowed or rented table saw is the ideal tool for this purpose) so that it ends up 5/8" to 3/4" from the wall. It\'ll need to be face-nailed along the wall edge - exactly the way you drilled the groove side on the first course, but this time there\'s no groove - only the freshly ripped edge of the plank.
Jun 28, 2014 |