Nailing/Stapling new hardwood flooring

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I am getting ready to install new prefinished 3/4-inch solid hardwood flooring in a 2nd floor apartment. (I actually wrote about this a year ago and am just now getting around to doing it now).
The new hardwood that I plan on putting down is this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/202700081?catalogId053&langId=-1&storeId051&N=5yc1vZbejw&R 2700081 .
The subfloor that it is going on top of used to look like this:
http://i46.tinypic.com/xp7omd.jpg .
That is old 3/4-inch thick tongue and groove subflooring that goes across floor joists that are 16 inches on center. But, since taking that photo, I added a layer of 30 lb roofing felt on top of that subfloor, and then put 1/4-inch SurePly Premium Underlayment on top of that. I added the roofing felt to help with absorbing sound, and I added the underlayment to make sure the floor was smooth and even, and to allow me to run the new hardwood across the floor joists and parallel to the 3/4-inch subflooring boards.
Rather than hiring a regular hardwood flooring installer to install the new hardwood, I decided to try doing this one "in-house" -- meaning I will use a contractor that I know and use for a lot of other stuff, and he and I will do the hardwood installation ourselves.
The plan is to rent a hardwood flooring nailer or stapler from a nearby tool rental place.
Does it make a difference whether we go with a hardwood flooring NAILER vs. a hardwood flooring STAPLER? I am leaning toward the nailer instead of the stapler, but I wonder if people here think that one is better than the other to use.
I have heard that it is a good idea to try to hit the floor joists if possible when nailing the new hardwood down. But, when I watch YouTube videos about this, I don't see anyone actually doing that.
With the 1/4-inch underlayment on top of the 3/4-inch subflooring, that adds up to 1 inch thick under the hardwood before getting down to the floor joists. The hardwood is 3/4-inch thick, so it is probably about 1/2-inch from the top of the tongue where the nails or staples will go in down to the bottom of the hardwood. So, the total depth down from the top of the tongue down to the top of the floor joists will be about 1-1/2 inches.
This is where the math part comes in. I think the nails or staples end up going in at a 45 degree angle -- is that correct? If not, that would make a big difference in calculating the length of the nails or staples and whether they will reach the floor joists.
But, if 45 degrees is correct, and if I use 2-inch nails or 2-inch staples, am I correct that the nails or staples wouldn't even reach the floor joists anyway? I'm doing the right angle triangle formula where A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared, meaning the hypotenuse would be the square root of 4.5 inches which is the sum of 1.5 inches squared (A-squared) plus 1.5 inches squared (B-squared). And the square root of 4.5 is about 2.1 inches -- which would be the length of the nail BEFORE it would reach the joists).
My questions really are: how long should the nails or staples be?; should I bother trying to hit the floor joists underneath?; and, I assume I nail every board but how far apart should the nails/staples be placed along each board when nailing?
And, of course, any other thoughts or suggestions on this would be appreciated.
Thanks.
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TomR,

stapled to the sub-flooring every foot or so. You can't do that with 16" joists.
Dave M.
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No real source, just a couple of people who said that's what they heard was the "correct" way to do hardwood flooring. But, no real professional or reliable source. That's why I asked -- just to be sure.

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On Tue, 20 Aug 2013 19:11:48 -0400, "David L. Martel"

catch as many floor joists as possible. Nails are cheap. My floor doesn't squeak.
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1. I wouldn't be laying parallel with the subfloor. What happens when the fasteners are going into subfloor joints?
2. I wouldn't use staples. The "nails" aren't actually nails, they are serrated cleats.
3. For your width planks you should be nailing every 6-8". Spacing depends on plank width. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
4. Plan to face nail the first few courses and get them DEAD STRAIGHT! IMO, a better alternative is to use screws and face grain plugs; which is one reason I wouldn't be using prefinished planks. Another reason is that IME it isn't all that easy to get the planks all at the same height. You will also have to face nail the last few courses.
Face nail the first courses because the fasteners do indeed go in at an angle (no idea if it is 45degrees) and the lateral force is counter productive to getting them DEAD STRAIGHT. The last few courses because there is no room to angle nail.
5. What are you going to rent, manual or pneumatic? If manual, do NOT rent a Bostich, get a Porta Nailer. They work because you position the tool, hit a ram with a hammer, the ram goes down, picks off a nail and drives it home.
With the Bostich (unless they have changed it), you gotta drive it home with ONE whack...not at all easy and if you don't get it seated you have to then get it out; also not an easy task.
With the PortaNailer, the ram stays down until the nail is seated; if you want to, you can stand there all day tapping on it.
6. You should also rent a flooring jack so you can get the boards chock-o-block.
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wrote:

Plywood subfloor means no problem

And they really hold.

I glued the first and last couple rows, with enough face nails to hold it in place.

No room to cleat nail either the first or last with a standard floor nailer.

I bought a Stanley pneumatic for the cost of 2 days rental at Home Despot.

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A 1/4" plywood subfloor???
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wrote:

Groove, often in 4X4 panels instead of 4X8.
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OK, but that's not what he has. He has a lumber subfloor. A lumber subfloor with every other pair of boards butted in the same place and 1/4 ply over that.
Now, if he had put down 3/4 T&G rather than 1/4, I'd have no problem laying in either directon over that.
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On Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:22:29 +0000 (UTC), Red Green

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Good point. I did have a full-time professional hardwood floor installation company owner look at the job to give me a price for his company to do the job. I did that before deciding to put down the underlayment, and we talked about the various options. Without the underlayment, he said it would be better to put the hardwood parallel to the floor joists and perpendicular to the subfloor boards. He said it is usually better to go across the floor joists, but with just the subfloor there, going parallel to the subfloor could be a problem due to the subfloor joints. But, he said that if I did the underlayment that I was thinking of adding, he would run the hardwood across the floor joists and parallel to the subfloor boards.

Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing that the "nails" are called cleats. And, when I saw them and saw that they were serrated, that helped me think that the cleats would be better than staples. But, I thought I'd ask here to see if others had a different opinion.

That makes sense, and now that I checked the manufacturer's website and installation instructions, I see that they say the same thing.

Good to know. In this case, I will be renting a pneumatic hardwood floor nailing machine.

I'm not sure what chock-o-block means or what a flooring jack is.
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Chock-o-block means "up tight"..."as close together as possible". Comes from block and tackle; when the moving block is all the way to the standing block thay are "chock-o-block".
A flooring jack helps straighten warped boards and pushes the edge of the board you are nailing to the one to which you are nailing. DAGS.
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dadiOH wrote:

Okay, thanks. I did the Google search so now I know what that is. I may check out renting one, but I'm not sure.
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Red Green wrote:

Thanks again. I just bought a pneumatic hardwood floor nailer today from Lumber Liquidators. It is on sale for $99.99 and it regularly sells for $149.99. Here's the ad regarding the sale (as of today, 08/26/2013): http://www.lumberliquidators.com/ll/c/ga.-in-Floor-Nailer-Norge-FLOORNAILER15.5G/10023320 .
The ad says it can be bought online and then do a free pickup at a local Lumber Liquidators without having to pay for shipping. But, I just went to the LL near me and they have them on sale there for the same price.
I have no idea how good it is, but to rent a pneumatic hardwood floor nailer at Home Depot near me costs $39 per day. So, buying this one costs just a little more than 2 of renting one.
I did a lot of checking yesterday and this was the lowest price pneumatic hardwood floor nailer that I could find anywhere, including Harbor Freight etc.
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HF often puts one on sale for under $100.
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snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

That's good to know. I need one now, so I won't be able to wait for other sales to come up.
The interesting thing for me is that I was in the LL near me on Saturday pricing hardwood and I am almost certain that the price then was $149. Then yesterday (Sunday) I started doing online searches for where I could buy one and I found the LL sale as an online item. I went into the store today (Monday) and there was a big sign stating that they were on sale for $99. That was good news for me because I am probably going to start the work tomorrow (Tuesday) -- good timing.
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Sure but tools are the sorts of things I tend to buy when they're on sale rather than when I need them. Sometimes it doesn't work out, though. I'll be ordering one of the Porter Cable (aircraft carrier style) dovetail jigs in the next few weeks. HD has them on sale for $550, about $100 off the street price. I probably won't use it for six months or so, but $100 is money.

project and the price goes the other way. ;-)
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Hi Tom,

Rosin paper would have been a better choice than the roofing felt. It doesn't have the tar smell like roofing felt.
Construction adhesive would have probably been better than either paper for that installation.

Ideally the hardwood flooring should run perpendicular to the floor joists, but as long as the subfloor is solid you'll be fine. I've done it both ways with no problems.
In most cases, flooring looks better when the boards run in the long direction of the room. It looks kind of odd if the boards run across the short dimension of the room.

My wife and I installed ours ourselves. It's not a difficult project and you should easily be able to finish in a day (for a few hundred square feet).

This is one of those cases where it makes more sense to rent the nailer. There's no reason to invest in a tool you'll probably never use again. If so, you can always rent it again.
Just tell the rental place you're nailing 3/4" hardwood flooring and they'll sell you the appropriate nails for their nailer.

I've always rented a pneumatic nailer with the hammer. Anytime I see staples I think cheap manufactured home. :)

As long as the subfloor is sound, it doesn't matter. Just nail every foot or so along the length of the boards.

1. Bring the flooring boards into the room a week or two before you install it so they can acclimate to the temperature and moisture levels in the house. Remove any protective wrapping and open the boxes so they get air flow.
2. Staple down a layer of rosin paper on the subfloor before you start installing the boards. This will allow some "give" between the boards and subfloor to reduce squeaking. Rosin paper is kind of pink colored and is sold in the home centers. It won't smell like roofing felt does.
3. On the two ends of the your starting wall, measure the width of your flooring boards plus 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Then snap a chalk line to ensure your first row is straight. The extra 1/2 inch gap allows the flooring to expand and contract with seasonal moisture variations. The baseboard trim will cover the gap.
4. Lay down your longest straightest boards for that first row. The flooring nailer won't reach that first row so you will need to face nail the first row or two of boards. I used a 16 gauge finish nailer and 1.5" nails. You might want 2" nails since you have an extra layer of subflooring.
5. Start installing the rest of the boards, using the flooring nailer as soon as you are able. Be sure to stagger the joints at least 16" or so from the previous row.
6. It's a good idea to pick boards from different boxes to ensure a random mix of boards. Things go a lot faster if your helper can pick out the boards and lay them ahead of you in the rough order you'll be nailing them. You can leave out boards you find unattractive, or install them where they'll be hidden under cabinets or something anyway. Be sure to mix the long and short boards as you progress. Otherwise you'll end up with a bunch of short boards at the end of the project which will look stupid. Hopefully, you ordered at least 10% more than you needed to allow for damaged or unattractive boards.
7. When you reach the end of a row, cut the board 1/2" short (again for expansion). Then use the remainder to start the next row (assuming the joints don't line up with the previous row). Each new row should start 1/2 inch away from the wall to allow for expansion.
8. You will develop your own nailing technique, but I found it most helpful to position the nailer, then step on the foot brace to hold it in place. That way it doesn't move when I hit it with the hammer.
9. Sweep up, admire your work, and make the mad dash back to the rental center to return the nailer before they close. :) Take your time though. It's better to pay an extra days rental than to rush and make a mistake. An extra $30-50 isn't much in the long run.
10. Install baseboard trim around the perimeter of the room to cover the 1/2 inch expansion gap you left all around.
11. Store any leftover boards in case you ever need to make repairs.
Have fun!
Anthony Watson www.cookingsoftware.com/anthony.htm
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HerHusband wrote:

Thanks. I chose roofing felt (30#) to help reduce the sound transmission between floors. This apartment is a second floor apartment, so I want to do what I can to dampen the noise from above. Of course, doing rugs on the second floor instead of hardwood would be better for that, but I really wanted hardwood because people like that and it looks good. I may require the tenants to use area rugs over the hardwood -- most do that anyway.

I did think of glue-down, but the SurePly Underlayment instructions said not to glue it down. They wrote, "Do not use any adhesive on the sub-floor beneath SurePly Premium Underlayment." They recommended using a staple gun, which is what we did.

Thanks again for all of the excellent suggestions and advice. I really do appreciate it.
About the expansion spacers around the edges, I'm not sure if the photo that I posted (
http://i46.tinypic.com/xp7omd.jpg ) shows it clearly, but there is already a gap under the walls on all four sides of each room. That's because we removed the old, damaged, and big-time urine-stained 3/4-inch hardwood that used to be there before we got down to the 3/4-inch subfloor that is shown in the photo. So, the hardwood will be able to go up close to the walls with the expansion spaces being under each wall.
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HerHusband wrote:

I am actually going to do a little "overkill" on this one. The plan is to use both 30# roofing felt and then rosin paper on top of that. I want to use the new layer of 30# roofing felt under the hardwood (in addition to the 30# roofing felt that is under the underlayment) to help further deaden sound transmission and give the hardwood a better "feel" when walked on. The rosin paper on top of the roofing felt will be to make it easier to slide the hardwood boards into place and to prevent dragging roofing paper scuff marks onto the new prefinished hardwood.
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