Strip Flooring 1 - Introduction Strip Flooring 1 - Introduction

What You Will Be Doing

A hardwood floor is perhaps the most beautiful and durable flooring you can use. In recent years these floors have experienced something of a comeback. Earlier in this country's construction history, they were the most commonplace of all floorings. With the advent of vinyl and linoleum flooring, and later with the widespread use of carpeting, they began to decline in popularity.


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Part of their comeback, other than just the appreciation of the product itself, has been the introduction of new types of hardwood flooring systems. Not only are these new types as beautiful and as durable as the earlier tongue-and-groove plank flooring, but also their ease of installation makes their application a rather simple do-it-yourself project even for a novice. This may surprise many people, since it appears to be rather difficult and best left to professionals or to the more experienced do-it-yourselfers. This is not really the case. Both parquet and plank flooring can easily be installed by novices in a weekend.

This section discuss installing plank (strip) flooring. For the most part I discuss installing the pre-finished floors. These floors are already stained and have the protective top coat applied. You can, however, install unfinished hardwood floors. After they are installed they need to be finished by sanding, staining (optional), and application of a protective finish. The techniques for doing this on a newly installed unfinished plank floor are similar to those discussed under the refinishing section. There are some differences, however, mainly in the fact that the thicker unfinished strip floorings require a special nailing gun for proper application.

Before You Begin - Safety

As you exercise your do-it-yourself skills, develop safe work habits and stick to them.

  1. Safety glasses or goggles should be worn when power tools are in use, especially if you wear contact lenses.
  2. Always unplug your power tools when malting adjustments or changing blades, drill bits, or sandpaper.
  3. Be sure your tools are properly grounded.
  4. Watch power cord placement so that it doesn't interfere with the tool's operation.
  5. Wear ear protectors when using power tools, because some operate at noise levels that damage hearing.
  6. Be careful of loose hair and clothing so that it does not get caught in power tools.
  7. The proper respirator or face mask should be worn when sanding, sawing, or using substances with toxic fumes.
  8. Use adequate ventilation with window fans. Keep away from heat sparks and flames when applying adhesives or mastic. Some are highly flammable.
  9. Wear rubber gloves when using solvents.
  10. Use the appropriate tool for the job.
  11. Keep blades sharp. A dull blade requires excessive force and can slip and cause accidents.
  12. Seal all healing and air conditioning ducts and electrical outlets. Wood dust can ignite.
  13. Take care in storing oily rags which can spontaneously combust.
  14. Use the proper protection, take precautions, and plan ahead. Never bypass safety to save money or rush a project.

Useful Terms

  • Floor register. An opening in the floor, usually covered by a grate, which brings heated or cooled air into a room.
  • Glazier's points. Small metal triangles used to hold glass panes in their frames.
  • Penetrating sealant. A finish that soaks into the wood as well as providing a hard finishing surface.
  • Polyurethane. A synthetic rubber polymer sealant for wood.
  • Reducer strips. Prefabricated door thresholds for use where two rooms with different floor levels come together.
  • Shoe molding. Decorative and functional trim pieces used where walls and floors meet.
  • Surface finish. A finish that provides a hard surface coat without penetrating the wood.
  • Underlayment. A supporting floor which provides a smooth, level surface upon which to lay a finished floor.


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