How to Nail Tongue and Groove Flooring over Concrete Part 3

What You'll Need
Tongue and groove flooring
Pneumatic nailer and staples
Ball peen hammer
Top nails
Ratchet clamps, at least 2
Box cutter knife
Power sander and 800 grit sandpaper
Plastic drop sheets
Shop vacuum
Wood stain
Clear water-based finish
Wide and narrow paint brushes

In Part 3, you will continue laying the tongue and groove flooring, compress the boards with ratchet clamps, trim the vapor barrier paper, and apply finish to the floor boards. Follow these guides below to complete the task of nailing your tongue and groove flooring to the concrete subfloor. (This is Part 3 of a 3 part series. To return to Part 2, click here.)

Step 1: Continue Laying the Tongue and Groove Flooring

As you lay each piece of floor board, be sure to stagger the arrangement of the joins. Keep the joins at least 6 inches apart across the width of the floor. Place the groove of each subsequent board over the tongue of the previous row, which has been nailed down to the furring strips.

Step 2: Tighten Spacing of Floor Boards with Ratchet Clamps

Use one ratchet clamp for every 5 to 8 feet of floor width. Secure the lip of the ratchet clamp strap to the groove in the first perimeter floorboard. Pull the strap out to the board you most recently laid down. Fasten the ratchet clamp around the tongue of that board, and pushing the ratchet handle away from and toward you, tighten the boards so they are snug. Avoid exerting excess pressure, as the boards may pop out of the grooves and buckle. Release the ratchet clamps as soon as you attach and nail in the last boards.

Step 3: Prepare the Last Boards for Attaching

When you arrive at the last tongue and groove boards to be attached, bevel the tongue down so it is flush with the main edge. This will create a clean edge against which to place your baseboards. Nail the last boards down through the top with top nails, and countersink them slightly. The baseboard will cover these nail tops.

Step 4: Trim Off the Vapor Barrier Paper

With your box cutting knife, carefully trim off the vapor barrier paper which is still visible above the tongue and groove flooring.

Step 5: Sand and Finish the Flooring

If you installed unfinished flooring, its surface will need finishing and sealing with stain and a water-based sealer. Prepare the room by sealing off doorways with plastic drop sheets, and set a fan in an open window to draw out the dust. Go over every part of the floor with the power sander and smooth out the wood surface. With a shop vacuum, clean up all the sawdust. Remove the plastic sheets and apply a water-based wood stain. Allow this stain to dry for about 4 hours, then apply the water-based sealant as soon as the stain has dried. The sealant will dry in about 2 hours, and you can then refasten the baseboards around the room.

Once your floor is finished and the baseboards are in place, you can move all the furniture and wall decorations back into the room. Carry the furniture pieces in carefully, to avoid putting scratches on the newly finished tongue and groove flooring.