Hot Topics: Tools Needed to Install a Hardwood Floor

A close-up of wood flooring.

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For a DIYer, tackling a hardwood floor installation can seem like a daunting task. However, as one of our forum members says below, it's "well within the grasp of a competent DIYer." Read on to see what other forum members think are necessary tools and practices, and what do about a certain lingering pet odor.

Original Post: Tools needed to install a hardwood floor

Spork Schivago Member

Could someone please tell me what tools I might need to install a hardwood floor? I have a good idea, but I don't really know the details. For example, I believe I need a pin nailer. But what gauge should be used? This would all be for a 3/4" thick hardwood. We don't have the wood yet. The old owners had dogs and cats and rooms with carpet. (It) smells really badly of dog and cat pee.

So, I figure I need:

-3/4" plywood
-the hardwood flooring +10% - 15%
-pneumatic floor nailer (maybe 16 gauge?)
-pneumatic pin nailer
-vapor barrier and maybe underlayment (or is the vapor barrier the underlayment?)
-air compressor to power the tools
-some sort of cutting saw (I have something called a compound miter saw. Hopefully I can use that.)
-Spacers to provide the 3/4" expansion gap that goes between the hardwood flooring and the drywall.

Then various moldings and stuff for the walls, once the flooring is installed.

Here's one of the pneumatic floor nailers I was looking at.
DEWALT 15.5-Gauge and 16-Gauge 2-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Tool-DWFP12569 - The Home Depot

Can someone suggest a good pin nailer and what gauge I'd want and tell me if I'm missing anything?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

You'll want to coat those subfloors with a solvent-based primer to prevent the odor from being released from the plywood.

Spork Schivago Member

To address the smell from the animals that were here, I'm planning on just tearing it down to the joists, lay new plywood and then install the hardwood. I think that would take care of it. I think most of the smell is in the carpet and maybe what's directly underneath it. I doubt it actually went into the joists.

I will be using these tools again down the road. I wanted to do one room at a time, over a longer period, because hardwood costs a lot of money.


Dewalt makes nice tools. For $99 you can buy a flooring nailer at Harbor Freight. HF tools aren't heavy duty but this tool is pretty good. It did my entire house with no misfires or jambs. Use Bostitch cleats. Bostitch nailers are good too, but will cost more. Pin nailer will be too small. Get a 15 gauge finish nailer. Between the hardwood and plywood, you'll want a vapor retarder. Aquabar B is a good vapor retarder available at Home Depot. You'll use the miter saw. Pick up an oscillating multi-tool to undercut the door jambs so the flooring can be slid under them. Would advise reading a book or two. You don't need anything special to help with expansion gap. A tape measure will do. Make sure you acclimate the flooring before installing. You may want to invest in a moisture meter to check the moisture content of you hardwood and plywood. There are guidelines as to what their moisture contents should be prior to installation.

If this is new to you don't rush into it. Take your time and educate yourself. It's important to take your time and plan things out. It's typically a one-and-done type of project. You won't want a do-over. It's not hard and well within the grasp of a competent DIYer.

czizzi Forum Topic Moderator

A small table saw also is quite handy for making rip cuts for walls parallel to the flooring. Remember that a complete subfloor tear-out will leave you with no nailing surface or support along the walls parallel to the floor joists. Look for a 2-layer underlayment: subfloor plus a minimum of 5/8" plywood or a minimum of 3/4" OSB (Advantech). You most likely have 2 layers now. Remove the top if the urine smell is bad and replace just that one layer. Simple 15# roofing felt will save you money on your vapor barrier.

For more, check out the original post.