How to Install Unfinished Natural Hardwood Floor Planks Over a Wood Subfloor


Natural wood flooring brings a distinct character to any home. Although it is not an inexpensive project to take on, it brings a level of value that can not be attained with any other floor covering available. Natural hardwood flooring is available with and without a finish. For the do-it-yourself enthusiast, installing unfinished natural hardwood flooring is a challenge worth undertaking. The ideal sub floor for this type of project is good quality plywood.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood flooring
  • Wood putty
  • Underlayment
  • Table saw
  • Electric miter saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • 6d finish nails
  • Chalk line
  • 3/8th inch spacers


  • Measure from the corner out on one wall and make a mark at 3 feet. Measure the perpendicular wall from the corner out to 4 feet and make a mark. The Measurement from point to point should be 5 feet. This will mean the room is square or uniform.

  • Skip this Step if the room is square or uniform. Measure out from a corner 5 inches. Next, go to the other end of the same wall and measure out 5 inches. Pop a chalk line using these two points and take measurements along the line to the wall to note any discrepancies. The first row may need to be ripped in an effort to make the room sqare or uniform.

  • Make sure the sub-floor has no soft of spongy areas. If so, secure these areas with screws. Clean all debris from floor in preparation for the new floor.

  • Install good quality underlayment to deaden the sound of walking on the natural wood flooring. This also helps if the floor being covered is a second story floor. The underlayment comes in square or rectangle shapes and is easy to install as it calls for no glue or nailing and cuts with a utility knife.

  • Start with an unobstructed wall and place spacers along the base of the wall to give hardwood room for expansion and contraction; usually 3/8th of an inch.

Laying the hardwood

  • Start the first row by using a long plank and pre-drilling holes for the 6d finish nails. Turn the hardwood where the tongue is facing out. The first row is secured with nails through the face of the wood flooring. Fill nail holes with wood putty to match the hardwood.

  • Start the next row from the same end as the first row and offset the ends. Do not install any lengths shorter than 6 inches.

  • The second through the next to the last row will be secured with the 6d finish nails driven in at an angle through the tongue designed to receive the next row. Use caution when driving these nails and use the nail set when the nail head gets close to the hardwood flooring.

  • Cut around any obstructions or vents by marking individual planks and cutting them to fit around them. Remember to leave a small space between the hardwood flooring and the obstruction. For vents, install flooring close enough to allow easy removal of registers.

  • The last row will be installed in the same fashion as the first row. This row may need to be ripped to fit in the space left. Remember to allow 3/8th of an inch for contraction and expansion.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install no more of the underlayment than what can be covered with hardwood
  • flooring.
  • Use a block of wood and a hammer to make sure the planks are snug before nailing.
  • It is recommended that hardwood flooring be installed perpendicular to the floor joists.
  • Drilling pilot holes over the area of the floor joists will give the best security possible.
  • Face nailing may be necessary around air vents and obstructions.
  • Do not raise the table saw blade any higher than needed to make a cut.

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