How to Install Unfinished Hardwood Floors over a Subfloor

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  • 8-24 hours
  • Advanced
  • 800-2,900
What You'll Need
Unfinished hardwood flooring
Floor nailer
Tape measure

Installing unfinished hardwood flooring is going to provide you with a customized job that is going to look great. By doing unfinished wood, you will be able to choose the color that you want and create a unique look. Here are the basics of how to install unfinished hardwood flooring over a subfloor.


Before starting the job, you'll want to make sure to allow the wood time to acclimate itself to your home environment. You will want to wait for 2 to 3 days before you install the wood. This will make sure that you do not run into any expansion problems after you install the flooring.

Starting the Job

Take the first piece of wood and place it in the corner of the room. Make sure that you leave a 1/4 inch gap between the board and the wall for expansion purposes. Take your nail gun and shoot some nails diagonally down through the tongue of the board.

Continue Laying

Take the next board and place it on the narrow side of the first board that's up against the wall. Make sure that you leave an expansion gap for this board also. Slide the tongue and groove of the two boards together. Shoot some more nails diagonally down through the tongue of this board. Continue laying boards in this fashion in a vertical row until you get to the end of the row.


For the last piece in the row, you're going to need to make a cut. Take your tape measure and measure the appropriate distance for the last board. Then use your saw to cut the piece of wood to the appropriate size. Place that board into the gap and nail it down.

Next Row

Take the small piece of scrap flooring from the first row and use it to start the next row. Slide the tongue and groove together with the first row and then nail that board in place. Continue doing the second row as you did the first. Then continue making rows until you have covered the entire floor.


Use your sander to sand the entire floor so that it will all be the same exact height.


After you clean up all of the dust from the room, you're going to want to apply a coat of stain to the wood. You can apply the stain with brushes or with rags. Make sure that the entire area is covered with stain and then let that coat dry. You might want to apply another coat of stain as well.


After the stain is dry, you'll want to apply a finish coat of polyurethane. Apply the polyurethane in the same manner that you did the stain. Make sure that everything is covered and then let it dry. Put on a second coat and let it dry before walking on the floor.