Hardwood floor DIY

I am considering hardwood flooring to replace the carpet in my living room. Is this a fairly doable project for the untrained, or should I bite the bullet and hire someone to install it?
And a design question: one wall at the end of the room is covered with wood panelling, while the rest is painted a light blue. Is it generally considered a good idea to make the floor match the wall as much as possible?
Sue
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wrote:

Only you can answer that question, because it depends on your skills, the time you have, and your confidence level. Installing hardwood is not rocket surgery.
Generally, DIYers stick to pre-finished stock, rent a nailer, a mitre saw and a table saw .. and work carefully and slowly. Your local library probably has several diy books showing how.
Take a look ... and if you find them intimidating, hire someone.
(I'm a contractor ... used to be a finish carpenter. In my own house, I'd hire someone -- easier on my old knees. And I'd probably go with pre-finished -- less odour and I'm not a purist.)

Really personal taste, even among designers. My own view is that if you cannot do a perfect match, do a contrast. But that is my view only.
HTH
Ken
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.tnx wrote:

I agree with that advice. And if you don't have most of the necessary tools, by the time you fool around renting them, etc, it likely isn't worth it. And a lot depends on what kind of finishing/trim work needs to be done. If it's a job with more transition area, irregular shapes, etc, you are likely to be better off having someone with experience do it. I'm pretty handy and like to do a lot of work myself, but depending on the exact job, this is one where I could likely use a pro.
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Are you talking about a pre-finished engineered wood floor? www.mannington.com Or a real hardwood, nailed in, sanded, finished? Biggest expense is a $100 miter saw that you can always sell when the job is done.
It is fairly easy to do the prefinished wood. Few tools are needed and it can be done in a day or three. (you want knee pads!) It will look good and is long lasting.
Don't try to match the walls. Get the floor of your dreams and buy a $25 gallon of paint to change the wall colors to suite. Contrasting woods can look very good also.
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Ed
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[etc.]

Is there any advantage to the second alternative? If pre-finished looks just as good I would take that option.
It's not a huge room (11' X 20') without a lot of irregularities. And I have plenty of time. But I'm not so sure I've got the energy to haul around a nailer all day. I'm probably going to end up bringing in a contractor. I'll have enough work cut out for me getting the smell of cat pee out of the woodwork.
Thanks to all for your advice.
Sue
--
"It\'s not smart or correct, but it\'s one of the things that
make us what we are." - Red Green
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Cheezits wrote:

Several years ago my wife and I installed a few hundred square feet of traditional oak flooring. A few things to note:
-- we had a friend with experience at it show us how. That was essential. -- we used the manual kind of nailer. They supply a heavy mallet with it and you have to hit the nailer with the mallet accurately and HARD. My wife couldn't do it and she is no weakling. If you don't hit it accurately and hard enough to sink the nail with one blow, you have to hand tap it the rest of the way with a hammer and nailset, which is very time consuming. -- the sanding and finishing also involves heavy machinery and a certain amount of knack learned through experience.
So all in all, it's an ambitious project, you might want to call in the pros. It will look beautiful in the end though.
--


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wrote:

I installed about 400sf of Bruce pre finished flooring from HD. The first day I used a manual nailer. With the nailer I had to use 2 or 3 blows per nail. The first blow kinda just cocked the nail under spring tension. The 2nd blow released the nail - usually. Maybe it could all be done in one blow also I don't remember. The next day I rented a air nailer and compressor. That was much easier however the manual nailer was better at convincing the not so straight boards to 'behave'. Kevin

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wrote:

You might have time but when you have to rent the tools you may want to get it done A$AP. My wife and I did a 400sf area in about 2.5 days (rental time). There was a lot of work before and after the actual nailing. Kevin
I'm probably going to end up bringing in a

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wrote:

The floor of your dreams should also match the type of furniture you have or intend to have. Somehow the image of dark wood furniture with dark flooring just doesn't feel right. Wall color matching is a simple paint job.
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Question to the group. I've been thinking about this since I saw wood floors discussed here. I saw a floor put in 35 years ago and they put a layer of foam rubber under it. (one half inch?) Seemed like a great idea. And there is tv commercial running now where it strongly appears that they are using the layer of foam rubber.
How long does this foam rubber last, before it collapses or crumbles.
Does it last forever? If not, what happens when it fails?
I assume hardwood floors before 1960 didn't have any foam rubber. Were they harder to walk on?
Should foam rubber be used?
More below.
wrote:

I had a friend who paid someone, and while he was at work, he asked me to watch them do it (so they wouldn't steal anything, I guess, not that anyone really thought they would. Will my friend turned out to be a jerk, so I don't know what he thought, but that's another story.)
I was eager to do this to see how it was done. Like many things, it's the edges that matter. The wood has to be cut to fit the edges. Are they all straight? Some?
The great percentage of the room is the middle. The just put the pieces of wood in place and used the nailer (specifically designed for flooring, I assume, so that the nail went in at an angle through the edge of the wood, but fairly near the top surface, and the edge so the heads wouldn't show, with the head even or below the surface, so it wouldn't interfere with the next piece of wood.) The nailer looked like it weighed 15 or 20 pounds, but you could find out in advance. They have to move it for every naiil that goes in. The pieces were about 2 feet long iirc and took more than one nail each. (But I don't remember if it was only 2, or if it was more.) The nailer had a teacup saucer or a little smaller sized plate that the guy would whack with a fairly large size rubber mallet. Didn't try it, so I don't know how hard he had to whack it, but again,if you ask nice, you could probably try it at the rentall place and find out.
Are you going to do this yourself Sue? You're going to be tired. In fact I think even most fit men would be tired when they try to use the same muscle for 5 or 6 hours. Maybe if you convince them that you're not doing more rooms, just that you're too weak at the start to go very fast, they'll let you keep the nailer longer for the same money. Because I don't think you'll be able to finish in one day, unless the room is quite small. The second day might be better, but I can imagine one being so tired he can't move his arm on the first day, after a few hours. I don't know what the daily rental is. Maybe paying for 4 days would not be so much money.
Both carrying the nailer from spot to spot, and whacking it with the rubber mallet even if not too mucy effort is needed will become very tiring. Especially the end of the first day. and the first part of the second day. Some people will be able to switch arms, but others will have a hard time doing that, I think.
Of course, exercise is good for you. I spent 2 months laying steel reinforcing for an expressway one year long ago, and I still have some of the benefits.

You should go to a lot of rooms with wood floors and decide what you think looks good. That way you can brag later about your feelings, opinions etc. (Don't say your good taste. That will sound egotistical) If you only use the advice of people here, you'll have to brag about their opinions.

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Any extra rental for extra days has to be compared against the cost of paying people to do this. I really have no idea how much that is. I think the company my friend used had a crew of two, and they were done in about 6 or 7 hours for a fairly large living room, with straight walls almost everywhere.
And get those rubber pads that strap to your knees.
wrote:

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I don't really think a mitre saw or a table saw are necessary. Nice, but not necessary since all your cut ends should be hidden under base trim. I personally prefer the non-prefinished product. It looks more authentic. Factory finished looks too perfect, and I don't like the eased edges. But it's a matter of taste.
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-> I am considering hardwood flooring to replace the carpet in my living -> room. Is this a fairly doable project for the untrained, or should I -> bite the bullet and hire someone to install it? Can't help you here.
-> And a design question: one wall at the end of the room is covered with -> wood panelling, while the rest is painted a light blue. Is it generally -> considered a good idea to make the floor match the wall as much as -> possible? As far as design, I would sand and paint the wood paneling. Depending on the quality of the paneling, you would either completely paint over it or you could just lightly stain it (with a color that matches your room (blue, green, etc.) -- not a wood color (pine, maple, cherry, etc)) so that the grain shows through a little.
It seems like, on the TV design shows, only the most expensive-looking wood paneling is allowed to survive!
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8^)~~~ Sue (remove the x to e-mail)
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Well, that's what I was hoping to avoid, as I like the panelling. It's not the usual cheap-looking panelling you usually see in rec rooms. I was wondering whether the overall effect might be too "woody", if that makes sense. I like the idea someone suggested of using a contrasting color. I shall have to do more research.
Sue
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"It\'s not smart or correct, but it\'s one of the things that
make us what we are." - Red Green
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Hi Sue,

My wife and I installed about 500 sq/ft of "prefinished" Australian Cypress wood flooring in one afternoon. We thought it was a fairly straightforward project, but keep in mind we built the entire house ourselves too...
Tools needed:
- Heavy Duty Stapler and a utility knife for installing the rosin paper before installing the flooring.
- Flooring Nailer (we rented this, and bought the floor nails from the rental yard). We got the pneumatic style which is much easier than trying to hand smack the manual style. You still need to smack the pneumatic one fairly good though. The rental yard lost the appropriate mallet, so I had to use my own rubber mallet. I also had to change the air fitting to fit my air hoses.
- 15 gauge brad nailer. This is to face nail the first and last couple of rows, and other areas where the flooring nailer won't fit (In a pinch, you could always hand nail and set with a nailset). You'll also need a nailer for installing trim and whatnot, but again, you could always handnail.
- Air compressor to run the nailers.
- A hammer and scrap flooring for tapping boards together, pulling nails, etc.
- Miter Saw for cutting the boards to length. You only need to cut the last board in each row. The rest are end matched (tongues/grooves). You could always use a skillsaw or handsaw if needed.
- Table saw for ripping boards to width. Really only needed for the last row where it meets up against the wall. You could use a skillsaw if that's all you have.
- A jig saw for notching around bumpouts (cabinets, walls, etc.). A handsaw and skillsaw could be substituted if needed.
In our case, we had to reverse the direction of the flooring on the opposite side of a partition wall. So I used a planer and a tablesaw to make a spline to join two rows, groove to groove.
Some people suggest kneepads too, but I did ours standing up and bending over. I did very little kneeling.
As for materials, you'll need rosin paper (could substitute felt paper, but I wouldn't want the tar smell in my house) to put under the floor, the wood flooring itself, and nails for the nailer.
You should store the wood in the room it'll be going in for a couple of weeks before installing it, so it can "acclimate" to the environment. Otherwise you could end up with gaps when the wood shrinks.
As for how-to instructions, there are several guides online. Just search for "install hardwood flooring" on google.
Short version, if you have all the tools and are fairly handy, it's a fairly basic project. If you have little experience and/or don't have the tools, it'll probably be cheaper and easier to hire it out...
You may also want to have a look at "laminate" flooring (not "laminated" flooring). You staple down a cushion, then the flooring just floats on top. Other than end cuts and whatnot, it's basically a snap together system. Your local home center should have plenty of options and all the tools you'll need. Very DIY friendly.
Have fun!
Anthony
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I definately think that this is a doable project - especially if you put down prefinished hardwood or laminate. HerHusband gave you a great reply to your post and covered the traditional nail down hardwood floor. You have some other options too.... In a nutshell there are three types of flooring 1) solid strip. Generally nailed down. Fairly easy to do. It takes some time though. for your first room you can do about 100 sq feet a day. After you get the hang of it, 300. I wouldn't consider a hand nailer. Rent the pneumatic. The time savings will be worth it. You can only do a naildown on a wood subfloor...no concrete.
2) Glue down. Used to put hardwood on concrete. Tougher than the naildown because its messy and harder to work with. Generally used with engineered floors.
3) Floating. Used for engineered hardwood or laminate. This stuff is a cinch! This is definately a DIY project.
Personally, I would DIY if it were floating or naildown over a wood subfloor. Gluedown over concrete is tougher. Might be worth hiring a pro.
Also, I really like the pre-finished floors. If you are hiring someone to come in and sand and finish your floor you are defeating some of the purpose of a DIY project. Not everyone will agree with me on this point, and if you are looking for a distressed look they may have a good point.
There are tons of resources on the web. Try hardwoodinstaller.com or diynet.com
Good luck!! Let me know how it goes.
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So far I am leaning toward prefinished. However, I have looked at the nailers that Home Depot rents and they look rather intimidatingly heavy. So unless it turns out that one of my friends knows how to do this sort of thing (and is feeling generous) I shall be calling in someone who knows what they're doing.
[etc.]

I will have to look into that as well. Is engineered wood different from hardwood? Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I just couldn't stand the odor for one more minute, so I ripped out the carpet. I now have a lovely bare plywood floor. I made a few discoveries:
1) There is some residual odor of cat pee in the woodwork. I've been dowsing it with Nature's Miracle and have a can of Kilz ready to paint it when it's dry. Is there anything else I can do?
2) There is a rotted spot in the floor by the back door where the rain must have gotten in. It is against the wall and about 4 inches wide. Will I have to replace that board before I do anything else?
I also want to repaint the wall trim because the old paint is chipping off. Will I have to remove all the old paint first or can I just paint over it?
Sue
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make us what we are." - Red Green
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wrote:(snip)

Basically strips of tongue&groove plywood with a thin layer of pretty hardwood up top. Downside is they can only usually be sanded and refinished once or twice, where real wood floors can be done several times.

Really bad spots could be cut out and replaced, if they don't go under the wall plate.

Yep. Hard part will be if the rot goes under the wall plate. If it does, you dig out as best you can, drive a shim under there if the spot is long. Depending on joist structure, you may need to add nailers and blocking to catch the patch.

cheap to rip it out and replace, if you are just going to paint it anyway. If it is pre-1978, may be lead paint, so replacement is probably the most painless route. If post-1978, and the chips aren't bad, just scrape, putty, and paint. A lot depends on the new floor you choose- with hardwood, baseboard and quarter round is common, but if the heights don't work out, you may need to retrim anyway. Transitions at any archways where floor height changes are usually the hard part.
If you have never done any of this, and don't have one already, I recommend a DIY book with lots of pictures. They tell what words never can.
aem sends...
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