How to Nail Tongue and Groove Flooring over Concrete Part 1

What You'll Need
Asphalt paper underlay
Blue painter's tape
Box cutter knife
Chalk line marker
10-inch miter saw to trim flooring
Plywood sheets for subfloor
1-inch by 2-inch strips for furring
Pneumatic nailer for flooring
Finishing nailer
1-inch wood top nails
Power sander and sandpaper
Shop vacuum
Wood stain
Clear water-based finish
Wide and narrow paint brushes

You can install tongue and groove flooring in a room in your home over the weekend with careful preparation and organizing of all your tools and materials. In part 1 of this series, you will prepare a room with a concrete floor for installing a floating tongue and groove wood floor. (This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)

Step 1: Empty the Room's Floor and Walls

If you are installing unfinished tongue and groove flooring, you will want to work in a completely empty room. This prevents sawdust and sanding dust from getting embedded in art, photos and wall hangings. Remove all the baseboards in the room to enable placement of the tongue and groove floor paneling as close to the wall as possible.

Step 2: Tape Off Around Fireplace Hearths and Wood Stoves

Tape off with the painter's tape around anything that is permanently fixed to the floor such as a fireplace hearth or the base of a wood stove. You can then align the wood flooring to abut it directly.

Step 3: Lay the Vapor Barrier

Over the concrete subfloor, lay down rows of asphalt paper, which is 3 feet wide and comes in 100-foot reels. Trim off the asphalt paper with your box cutter knife, and tape it to the wall edges and tape each strip to the others with painter's tape. Over the asphalt paper, lay plastic sheeting that is no more than 6mm thick. Staple the plastic sheeting to the asphalt paper carefully to eliminate air gaps.

Step 4: Lay the Subfloor

Cut and lay large sheets of plywood, choosing the flattest pieces for your subfloor. Furring pieces will be attached to the subfloor, and the tongue and groove flooring will float atop these horizontal and vertical planks.

Step 5: Determine the Direction to Lay the Flooring

Measure from the exterior wall of the room to the opposite wall of the room where you will lay the flooring. Take this measurement along both perpendicular walls. If they are the same, then you can start laying your wood floor against the exterior wall base. Mark a chalk line on the vapor barrier material to show where the first board will go. Leave an expansion barrier of no more than 1/4 inch, to be covered with the baseboards.

Step 6: Measure to Lay Out the Furring Strips

The tongue and groove floor will be suspended above the subfloor on a grid of 1-inch by 2-inch furring strips. Measure the floor into a grid with the furring strips the same distance apart as the width of your floor boards. You will be nailing through the tongue of each floor board into a furring strip.

Please go to Part 2 to build the furring strip grid and begin attaching the tongue and groove floor boards to this floating floor.