How to Install a Hardwood Floor – Part Two

I started this project at the end of November, SO…it’s best that I start from the beginning…the VERY beginning…/queue cheesy wavy flashback effect

This is the best flashback I could find. I don’t know if this counts as a flashback… but it’s pretty amazing.

It was a cold, wet day in November 2012 and Rachel and I were discussing what to do for the great room. I wanted a hardwood floor and she didn’t care. So naturally, we went with hardwood.

Taking the fact that Rachel didn’t care and running with it…I figured I would put hardwood from the great room, into the breakfast area, kitchen and out into the foyer and my office. Add in the bedroom and boom! That’s a lot of wood. And probably the last time my wife “won’t care” about something!

After taking advantage of some pretty stellar after thanksgiving sales, I pulled the trigger on 3/4″ x 2-1/4″ Builders Pride Hickory. The wood was on back order for a few weeks, so I did what any normal guy would do…nothing.

I’m kidding. I kid a lot.

My parents gifted me this retractable extension ladder. I call it master yoga, it’s super flexible and bendy but FIRM! Namaste.

So, much to my dismay…I painted our 23 ft great room. It was scary and not fun…right up my alley.

Yes, you are correct. That is a wedgie. DEAL WITH IT! One hand on master yoga and one hand on the brush all while keeping the cheap-ass paint cup with a flimsy handle from falling…you would’ve had a wedgie too! Ya know what? I bet you would’ve had two wedgies!

When I wanted a break from master yoga and almost falling, I cut in.

The room has four architectural pillars. The previous owner painted them the same beige as the wall, stripping them of their natural born right to make a statement! Not cool previous home-owners, not cool.

I took 2″ 3M blue painters tape and masked out a straight line. Next I painted the pillars a darker blue, freeing them from their beigy bonds!

Now the pillars add depth to the room.

Finishing up the high wall. What a drag.

Oh yeah, I installed this heavy duty articulating wall mount for the TV. The great thing about this mount is that it pulls out and pushes in like an accordion, so I could get behind to the cords and outlet easily. Because the place was already pre-wired for surround in each corner of the room, I picked up a cheap surround system and threw that in too.

I finished painting. I accidentally Jackson Pollock’d 2 pairs of jeans and 1 shirt. Like his canvases, my clothes were ruined.

I just burned Jackson Pollock. Did you catch that? And rach used our new Hoover SteamVac on the carpet since the wood was still on back order. It took the carpet from a gross dark beige to a much lighter gross beige.

We stayed with family out of state for the holiday, so all DIY projects were on hold until after the new year. I had already torn up our bedroom carpet prior to knowing the wood shipment was on back order, so instead of doing the great room first, I did my master bedroom instead. I hope you didn’t stare at that static DIY loading image for too long…

Completing the master bedroom first proved to be the correct decision, as my Sim wife’s happiness bar went from red to green almost over night.

I picked up a huge curtain rod and mounted it. If you mount the rod just off the ceiling, it’ll make the room look bigger when the curtains are drawn. Not that I really need this room looking any bigger…

I grabbed some 96″ black-out curtains from and hung them up. They should help keep the heat in, cold out and vice versa in the summa, summa, summatime.

So now it’s late February and my parents are in town. It’s nice, they get to see my half Asian baby and dog named after a breakfast platter. My dad helped me finish the master bedroom and start the great room make-over.

Here’s dad and toast about to tear up the carpet.

French toast says…no! and dog noises!

Next up is the carpet pad…

We rolled up the carpet and padding in manageable carry-out lengths, duct taped em and stored them for disposal.

With the carpet gone, we removed the carpet tack, carpet staples and 3/4 of the metal reducer.

Next we used a 4-8′ level and tape measure to check the floor for level. As per the manufacturer’s instructions…up to a 3/8″ gap is alright, anything more and you can have some trouble with bowing, warping and cracka-lackin’. I brush over this in my previous post and between this one and that, I think you can get a clear idea of the leveling process.

We’re using 2″ decking screws to try and correct any high spots. Screw these into the joists and see if the sub-floor goes down.

We started laying out the shingles in marked-out low spots.

Here’s a real-live low spot around the vent!

Another low spot!

Feathering out the very low spot by the fireplace.

Aerial view with the first layer of tar paper down.

We snapped a chalk-line out of where the tongue of the first row will be.

Here’s the close-up of a face-nailed piece. The holes will be putty’d and covered by quarter-round.

Close-up of the tricky vent cuts. Using a table saw is ideal in this situation. Otherwise you can make several small cuts to the desired depth on a miter-saw. I can’t think of a good way to articulate this…hmm. Put a piece of hardwood on it’s side, then make several very close together cuts (think of a hair comb) and from there you can hammer out the comb-like strands of wood to reveal a notched out (albeit jagged) piece. Did that make sense?

Once we got 1/4 of the way into the room, we shuffled the location of the boxes (after calculating how much we needed for the room) so that we could chalk a line where the threshold was going to be. This is a previous photo…just to give you an idea of the size of these boxes.

We decided to not extend the hardwood into the kitchen. I wasn’t thrilled. Time was a major factor. And manpower. I would’ve been one of those poor souls on DIY channel’s, “Renovation Nightmares”. It’s just too much work for me to finish on nights and weekends by myself. Sometimes it’s better to take emotions out of it and call it what it is. (too much work!)

Making some serious progress. Can’t thank my mom and dad enough. They took off all week to help me with this floor and slept on an air mattress in the coldest bedroom above the garage. My dad had so many blankets under and around him he called it his “sleeping taco”. We’ve got worse accommodations than Motel 6 round here! No bed bugs, though.

Here is the molding around the fireplace. We used my Rigid JobMax to cut the molding and used a scrap piece of hardwood as a guide.

Now the hardwood will look seamless once the quarter-round is up.

About 3/4″ was removed.

We really got on a roll…but something wasn’t right. I could feel it in muh bones.

The gas valve for the fireplace! Hidden under two rows of hardwood! STOP! PULL EVERYTHING UP!

Here’s my dad measuring out the valve-cap width to make a precise cut into the piece that will surround it.

Something like this…

So once that emergency was extinguished we kept rolling, until…

…the gun jammed.

I grabbed the gun. I unplugged the air hose. I turned the gun over. I removed the staples. I took an allen key and removed the 3 bolts. I removed the faceplate…and there it was, an L-cleat with razor sharp teeth, watching, waiting. I grabbed my needle-nose pliers and gripped the cleat, teeth onto teeth. I pulled back. With my body-weight front-loaded, the pliers slipped and my hands recoiled…back, and then very much forward. Forward right into the sharp, unforgiving teeth of the L-cleat.

Instant red, but in a flash I stood up, grabbed my finger and with a few choice words I ran upstairs to the first aid kit and my wife.

She told me to suck it up. It wasn’t until mid-day Friday when we were almost finished that I realized…

I can’t straighten my finger. It was super swollen and super…flaccid. Under the impression that it was so swollen that I couldn’t straighten it, I soldiered on.

We finished the floor at 2:00PM on Friday. Also…Baby photo bomb!

The room looks great. But after a trip to urgent care late on a Saturday (good call, Dmitri), It turns out that I done f’d up the extensor tendon on my index finger. A condition known as mallet finger, or as I call it, flaccid finger™.

After my parents left I was pretty bummed. My finger would likely never be the same. But the soul-surfer in me wouldn’t give up. I painted, cut down and installed the quarter-round. I won’t let you down, Hawaiian Dennis Quaid.

Quarter-round finished!

I used the table-saw to rip down the quarter-round by the two pillars. This gives it a more seamless look.

Photo-bombing family photos with the creepy ol’ flaccid finger™. You’ve got to make the most of a sagging situation.

Aerial view of the finished room!

After meeting with the hand specialist, the finger was to be splinted up for 6 weeks. Luckily, I can do most normal activities. Hopefully my classical harp technique won’t be affected.

Wrapped up like last night’s left-overs.

Here’s the reducer(s). Unfortunately they don’t manufacture one long piece.

Finally! We can relax!

Such a drastic change.

It’s come a long way from beige on beige…on beige!

This month we’re going to grab some decor/accessories to fill up all of that empty wall space.

That’s a wrap! Drop any comments/questions below. Let me know what you think!  Check back early next week when I post the first half of my dinner table build. It’s my first furniture build of 2013! Thanks for stopping by!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

September 23, 2014 at 01:09 PM

What was the time frame from laying first board to laying the last?

September 23, 2014 at 01:09 PM
– In reply to: David

Hey David- The master bedroom took me about two weekends and a handful of weeknights for a few hours after 6pm. Keep in mind that the different tones of the hickory hardwood was what really made this so time consuming. If I had different flooring of all the same color and tone, it would’ve been a weekend project for sure. The great room floor took four full days with two guys.

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