Hardwood Strip Flooring
How to lay out and install it.
Synopsis: This is a thorough explanation of how to lay a strip hardwood floor. It covers subfloor choices and nailing schedules and the all-important issue of moisture content. Illustrations provide pointers on layout.
Putting down a hardwood floor is one of the few kinds of woodworking that can be classified as both rough and finish carpentry. Anyone who has installed a ¾-in. oak floor will attest to the brute force required to drive home the nails, and to the telltale evidence of every mistake. And since all the work happens at ground level, a floor mechanic spends half his time on his knees and the rest stooped over like a field hand.
Still, the bundles of hardwood flooring that get broken open for each job contain some of the most carefully graded and highest-quality building materials available today. It’s a pleasure to work with this stuff, and when wood this good is properly installed and cared for, it makes for a durable floor that can add a lifetime of color and warmth to any home.
There are two basic types of strip flooring: tongue-and-groove (T&G) and square-edged. Some T&G strips are endmatched, which means they’re T&G on their ends as well as along their lengths. Strip flooring ranges from 5/16-in. to 1½-in. thick, and from ¾-in. to 3¼-in. wide. Here in the Northwest, most strip flooring is red oak, white oak, or maple, and the most common size, as it is throughout the country, is ¾-in.-thick by 2¼-in.-wide T&G. I like endmatched strips because they give the floor a bit more strength, and reduce bouncing where strips butt end to end between joists.
Hardwood strip flooring is further subdivided into random lengths and shorts, depending on…