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Installing Hardwood Floors on Your Own

If you are a handyman that likes to do things on your own, then your next big project may be to install your own hardwood floor. Just a word of warning, though, that it’s not as easy as it looks or sounds. It is a multiple step process that can take days or even weeks, depending on how much time you spend each day.

Installing your own hardwood floor can be rewarding. Once you complete the project, you will get to see the nice shiny floors that you put in by hand. It can save you a lot of money as opposed to hiring a contractor to do the job for you. You just have to determine whether it’s worth the time and effort to do it yourself.


One of the things that new hardwood floor installers overlook is the preparation. When you are dealing with wood, the conditions have to be close to perfect. If any type of moisture gets on the wood flooring, then you could be in for some major problems. You will have to find someway to control the temperature and humidity in your home to prevent any kind of moisture from building up. That can be difficult depending on the time of year and where you live.


Just like with any project, you need to have a vision of what you need to do in order to execute it. With hardwood floor installation, you have to take several measurements as well. Find out the direction of the floor joists, because you will want to install your floor perpendicular to them. When you begin your floor installation, you should begin with the longest and straightest wall in the room. This will help you cover the most ground at the quickest rate.

Getting your correct measurements is critical, because you don’t want to have planks that aren’t straight. Even being a fraction of an inch off line can make your floor look less visually appealing. Getting your layout can take a lot of time, but it is the most important step to lay the foundation of your new hardwood floor.


Cutting the planks for your hardwood floor varies greatly. The method used to cut the wood depends on the type of wood that you are using, among other things. The best thing you can do is read the instructions for the flooring that you purchased and follow them exactly. You may have to go out and buy additional power tools to get the cutting done, or you can just take the flooring into a home improvement store and have them do it for you.

Placing the Floor

Once you have your boards cut, you will need to nail them to the subfloor. You can do this by using a hammer, but it’s not recommended because it’s not as powerful and you could potentially damage the floor. Instead, consider buying or renting a floor nailer for this project.

When laying down your first few rows, you need to make sure you pick the straightest and best quality boards. This is where your previous measurements will come in handy. It’s important not to rush when you are placing and nailing your floor down. Even the slightest error can turn into a huge mistake that can ruin the appearance of your floor. Take it row-by-row and don’t worry about trying to finish quickly.

Self-Installation or Hire Out?

The cost of installing hardwood floors can vary, but you can get a general cost estimate to have an idea of how much it will hurt your pocketbook. Of course, you can get the job done for a lot cheaper if you do it yourself, but you are also spending a lot more time on it and running the risk of messing something up.

On average, the cost of materials could be anywhere from $4-$10 per square foot. Labor costs will add on another $2-$5 per square foot in most cases. You can save about 30-40% by doing it yourself, but you just have to decide whether it is worth it. Contractors may give you a better deal on larger projects, but the smaller projects may end up being way too expensive to hire someone out.

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