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How To

Discover how to lay hardwood flooring in this comprehensive guide below.

Written by: Yarl Christie

Published on: July 12, 2023

How to Install Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring is considered the most difficult to install. However, it is possible to do it yourself.

Diagram of solid wood flooring installation

Continue reading if you would like to find out how to lay solid wood flooring.

1. What Tools Will You Need?

The tools required for installing solid wood flooring include.

  • Tape measure
  • Moisture metre
  • Carpenters square
  • Saws
  • Spacers
  • Crowbar and tapping block
  • Trowel
  • Underlay

The moisture metre is used to test the subfloor. If moisture is detected, a specialised underlay should be used.

Other tools you might find useful include knee pads, a nail gun and strong adhesive. We recommend wearing safety goggles and heavy gloves for protection.

2. Measure The Room

Measuring the room is important as it lets you know how much flooring you’ll need. Most rooms tend to have a perfect square or rectangular shape.

Tape measure to measure the room before installing solid wood flooring

You can find out how much you’ll need by multiplying the length by the width. If the room measures 5 m long and 2 m wide, you will need a total of 10 square metres of flooring.

3. Acclimatise Your Solid Wood Floor

With solid wood flooring, acclimatisation is crucial to avoid damage. You will need to acclimatise the floor it for at least 7 days. This gives it enough time to adjust to room temperature.

Acclimatising solid wood flooring before installation

To acclimatise solid wood flooring, leave it unopened in the room it will be fitted. The boxes should be placed on top of one another. You will also need to leave a small gap underneath to allow for correct airflow.

4. Prepare the Subfloor

Remove any existing flooring and check that the subfloor is dry, clean and even. Check moisture levels to determine the type of underlay you need.

Prepare subfloor before installing hardwood flooring

When installing the floor on top of floorboards, watch out for nails and gaps. Flatten nail heads down and fill any gaps prior to installation. You should also install ½” plywood on top. Concrete subfloors may need screed applied to even out the surface. We have more information about how to prepare a subfloor here.

5. Choose Your Installation Method

Solid wood flooring can be installed in two different ways. You can either glue or nail it down. While it isn’t impossible to use a floating floor method, it isn’t advisable due to its range of movement.

Whichever method you are using, make sure you leave a 12mm expansion gap.

5.a The Glued Down Method

With the glue-down method, you need to apply the adhesive first. Like all floors, you should start from the longest wall.

Check the drying time of your chosen adhesive. This will let you know how long you have to secure the planks before it sets. It is best to work in small areas, applying enough adhesive for one row at a time.

Gluing down solid hardwood flooring

Using a trowel, apply the adhesive to the subfloor. Place the first plank firmly down to secure it. Ensure the tongue of the plank is facing away from the wall. Lay the second plank of the first row, making sure to secure it to the first plank. Continue installing the first row following these steps.

Moving on to the second row, you need to stagger the first plank. Ensure a 150mm distance is kept between the joints of the first and second row. Apply them the same way you did with the first row. Continue to finish installing all rows.

The glue down method best suits concrete subfloors.

5.b The Nailed Down Method

You can nail solid wood floors to wooden subfloors. This includes plywood and floorboards. However, they should not be nailed down onto chipboard. You must also lay ½” plywood onto floorboards prior to installation.

Nail down solid hardwood flooring installation

Leave a 10mm expansion gap around the room. You can use red rosin paper to plan the installation. Staple it down to the subfloor before marking down points for the baseline. Use a straight edge to draw a straight line to connect the points.

Place the first plank of the first row next to the start of the longest wall. Make sure the tongue is facing away from the wall. Nail it down using a hammer at the edge of the plank. Then, connect the second plank using the tongue and groove system. Use a nail gun to secure each plank down in the first row.

Stagger the joints of the first plank of the second row with the first plank of the first row. Slot them together using the tongue and groove system. Nail down the planks in the second row using the same method as the first.

Ensure you use the nail gun at a 30-degree angle. If not, it will go too deep into the wood and cause damage. When placing planks together end-to-end, use a mallet to gently tap them securely together.

TIP. - Both glue-down and nail-down installation leaves little room for error. Therefore, you should first lay the planks out before starting the process. This enables you to see where you need to cut planks to size. It also prevents mistakes, speeding up the process as you know where each plank will be going.


The above is a brief solid wood installation guide. Remember to follow the instructions provided with the specific floor you have purchased. If you have any questions, give us a call. Our friendly team will be happy to assist.


Further Reading

  1. Read more about what solid wood flooring is here
  2. Discover how to refurbish solid wood flooring here.
  3. Discover the difference between real wood flooring and LVT here
  4. Discover the difference between laminate and solid wood flooring here
  5. Discover the difference between engineered wood and solid real wood flooring here
  6. Browse our solid hardwood flooring we have available to buy online here

About The Author

Yarl Christie

Yarl is the Managing Director of Stories Flooring. started his career in the flooring industry by becoming a floor fitter at the age of 18 (2004). Yarl finally decided to move with the times and set up an online flooring store (Flooring Yorkshire, 2018). He works closely with the business managers and resource team to source new products from wholesalers, which in turn brings down the sale price. This enables Stories Flooring to be one of the leading UK flooring retailers.