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Installing the Antique Heart Pine Flooring

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Pretty Handy Girl: Installing the Antique Heart Pine Flooring

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Installing the Antique Heart Pine Flooring

Welcome back! If you are just joining us, we are on the fifth step of a five part series on our living room. A living room that started out as a dark cave of a room:

Before picture shot during daytime with a lamp lit. VERY DARK!

Previous steps can be viewed here:
1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)

It has been four days since Christmas and we've been working like busy beavers on our living room. Only a few more days until Pretty Handsome Guy has to go back to work. Our boys are getting antsy and tired of being shooed from the living room.

Keeping the troops from getting restless:

I came up with a spur of the moment idea to keep them busy for a little longer! Painter's tape and a coin made for an instant hop scotch game on the kitchen floor!

I quickly duck into the living room and start the installation process.

When choosing the direction to run the boards, I had to look under the house from our crawl space to see which direction the floor joists ran. We wanted our wood floor to run at a 90 degree angle (or perpendicular) to the joist direction. (This isn't a rule, but it helps with the stability of your floor.) If you can't get under your house (or want no part of that underbelly) then study the nail pattern on the plywood subfloor. The nails that are nailed into the floor joists will be in straight lines across the floor.)

To lay the flooring straight, I drew out guide lines in the living room.

Marking Start and End Lines:
  1. Mark the green line first (with chalk line) as your starting line.
  2. Measure the width of the room at the top and bottom.
  3. If these values differ, choose the lesser amount or close to it and mark that distance at the top and bottom of the room.
  4. Snap your chalk line between the two points.

Figuring First and Last Board Widths:

Before you nail in that first board (because I know you are itching to get started). You will need to do some math to figure out how many board widths you will use across your room. Take the total width of your room, divide it by your floor board width.

For example, our room is 187" wide. My board widths are 5.5 inches wide. So, here is my equation: 187 ÷ 5.5 = 34"  Oh happy day, a whole number!!! I have room for 34 full width boards in our living room.

This very rarely occurs! Normally you end up with a number that has a fraction, let's say .3 for example. You will be left with 1/3 of your board width at the end. This board won't look good being so narrow, and it is harder to work with. If you had .5 or larger, you might be fine depending on your board widths. You will need to be the judge.

So, in the case of the .3 excess, you will need to split the difference between both your starter and end boards. Find out what .3 of your board widths is: 5.5 x .3 = 1.65. Then you will add that width to your standard board width: 1.65 + 5.5= 7.15". Now divide the 7.15 in half: 7.15 ÷ 2 = 3.575. So, now you know that you need to rip your start and end board to be 3.5" wide. I hope you followed that. 

Time to learn two new glossary words:

  • Rip - ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut - a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I've been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw. Okay, I'll have to give you a lesson on types of saws at a later date. I promise!)
Remember how I said we had a whole number, meaning our room will take full width boards. In other words, no ripping needed (guess we didn't need that table saw after all. But, no way was I returning my Christmas present!)

Cutting and Dry Fitting the floor:

I started by laying out all the boards across the room. Sounds easy right? WRONG!!! It wasn't really difficult, just time consuming. I had to cut each board to size with the miter saw (this is where I really learned the value of the old adage "Measure twice, cut once."  Then, I moved to the next board. Several rows took two board lengths. I was careful to stagger my seams randomly. I also had to take more time to cut the profiles around door jams, fireplace, heating vents and bookcases. Also, be sure to cut a hole where your heating and A/C vent is (more detailed information on cutting profiles can be found in this post.) Cutting around a vent instructions can be found at here. Measure, cut, check fit (and repeat about 100 times).

I chose to create a mitered frame around our fireplace. This took a little more measuring and time, but the results were well worth the effort.

Phew, that only took a day and a half! I laid out ALL the floor boards without nailing. Moved a few to stagger seams or put prettier planks in a more prominent spot. When everthing fit, I lightly numbered each board with chalk and stacked them up near the end side of the room.

FINALLY! Install Your Floor:

Okay itchy fingers, now it is time to install that first board! Grab that huge pneumatic nailer, right?! What? No?! The nailer won't fit close enough to the wall for your first (or maybe even second or third row.) Time to bust out the power drill and predrill your nail holes. I put holes approximately every 18" about an inch in from the edge. Then hammered the nails in using a nail set to countersink the nails. Before you sand, you will need to add some wood putty to fill and hide the nail holes.

Ah ha, NOW you can grab that nailer! I have to admit I was a little nervous. I had never actually used a floor nailer (although my Dad has pictures to prove otherwise).

Please, please, no comments about my topless internet photo!
I was 5 people! And a tomboy, what can I say. 

It is true, I had watched my parents lay wood floors. But, that was many many years ago. Luckily times have changed, and the tools are better. We rented a pneumatic nailer with a compressor so that the nailer would do most of the driving with forced air.

We lined up that second board. Used a scrap block of wood and a hammer to tap it firmly against the installed board. Then Pretty Handsome Guy gave me the nod letting me know I could proceed. I trembled a little as I lifted the rubber mallet. Then stopped, moved my feet wider and clear away from the nailer. Then raised the mallet. It was now or never! And {{WHAM!}} The mallet hit smack in the middle of the black button and a loud bang filled the room. Woot! What a rush! I just love power tools :-).

Back to work, one floor cleat in and about 400 more to go. Plenty of {{WHAM}} for me and Pretty Handsome Guy to share.

When we reached the end of the room, we had to ditch the nailer and predrill holes and hammer in the nails by hand again.

Ooo la la! Step back and admire that beautiful floor!

Because our floor planks were custom planed, they had varying heights. But, that wasn't a big deal because we were planning on finishing our own floor.

Well, at first we were so scared of ruining our beautiful wood floors that we almost paid a professional to come finish them for us. But, Mark Kegler (the guy who planed the wood for us) reassured me that I could definitely do it myself.

He gave me a few tips on Refinishing Your Own Floors:

  • Rent a drum sander (rented at Home Depot.)
  • Watch some videos on YouTube for using a drum sander.
  • Practice on a sheet of plywood to get the hang of it.
  • When you reach the end of your row, gently raise or rock the sander up and of the floor.
  • Whatever you do, DO NOT stop moving while the sanding drum is in contact with the floor.

  • Rent an edge sander (rented at Home Depot.)
  • Again watch a video on YouTube for how to use it.
  • Again DO NOT STOP moving it while it is in contact with the floor.
  • And hang on tight to that puppy, cause it will pull you into the next county if you let it.
  • A side note on the edge sanders, this thing will really give you a good glute and hamstring workout (just in case you were looking for some added results. Okay, yes, I added this last bullet point.)

  • Then rent a Square Buffer (or Random Orbital Sander). It will give you your fine sanding and buffing finishes. (Rented at Home Depot)
  • Yup, you guessed it, watch a video on You Tube. Seriously, how did people learn anything before YouTube?
  • Buy the most expensive floor finishing system they have (it will last much longer than a cheap polyurethane.) We used ProFinisher Water-Based Floor Polyurethane.
  • It can be a water based system.
  • The system should include a sanding sealer and a sealer (polyurethane or varnish).
  • Follow the directions on the bottle.
This site: has some a great video and information for the whole finishing process. They left off the square buffing step, but it's your DIY project and you can buff if you want to!

After following all the directions for finishing the floor, we were left with....

Ta Da! Droolingly Gorgeous Antique Heart Pine Floor

I hope you noticed that I didn't mention the stain color we used. That is because we didn't use a stain. This is the actual color of antique heart pine wood! No stain, just glorious amber red heart pine.

Which we had to cover up with a rug. But, every once in a while I pull back the rug and admire this:
You can just barely see that little spot of turquoise paint in the nooks of this knot. 
It is just whispering, "I'm old and I have a story behind me."

Before I reveal the room to you:

Do you remember the before picture?

Here are a few more:
And this was before we moved in:

Here is the final reveal of our living room:

I should note that it took another few hours to cut, install, and paint the quarter round molding to hide the edges of the floor. And I had to wait a month for custom transition strips for the doorways and special heart pine quarter round for around the fireplace. But, I'm one proud and happy Pretty Handy Girl now!

You can also view some other blogger's amazing Before and After renovations at the CSI Project competition:

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At August 26, 2010 at 5:22 PM , Blogger Ellen said...

Wow, that floor is beautiful! Well worth the angst and work!!

At August 26, 2010 at 5:27 PM , Blogger marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh my, your floor is absolutely stunning. Such a lot of work, but oh so worth is. It is truly gorgeous. I am green with envy. Good for you, you should be proud. Beautiful room. Hugs, Marty

At August 26, 2010 at 5:46 PM , Blogger Melanie@The Old White Cottage said...

I'm speechless ... just WOW! That's all I've got.

At August 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM , Blogger Sandra {sawdust and paper scraps} said...

Beautiful. It looks so good and you didn't even end up using a walker because you hurt your back bending over all day, day after day. I'm so jealous! No seriously, that floor looks fantastic.

At August 26, 2010 at 9:03 PM , Anonymous Stephanie from "Furniture Fun" said...

Absolutely Gorgeous! I love the end result! I love it when you finish something and you can sit back and enjoy the finished product and know that all the hard work was worth it! Awesome job!

At August 26, 2010 at 10:48 PM , Anonymous Becky@Organizing Made Fun said...

It IS beautiful...I'd say you didn't need to cover it up with the rug! But, I'm a rugless kind of person cause I love the wood floors showing! But...I'm sure it would be cold without it where you live :)

At August 27, 2010 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Ellie said...

That is one gorgeous floor! I enjoyed reading all of the detailed steps. Enjoy your floor!

At August 27, 2010 at 10:27 AM , Blogger The DIY Show Off said...

Wow! Great tutorial and your floor is gorgeous! This is a project on our to do list...for the entire first floor. Not looking forward to it! But, good to see that it's worth all of the hard work! Your entire living room is beautiful! Great job on the faux brick too! It is so real looking!!!

Have a great weekend!


At August 27, 2010 at 10:43 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

Wow! The room is just gorgeous all fixed up with the floors finished! Your color combination and mixture of textures is beautiful!

At August 27, 2010 at 4:31 PM , Blogger Autumn said...

Wow, your room really came together. I have a stack of this wood sitting in my LR ready to be installed in the kitchen. So did you poly it? It looks shiny, so I assume that you put something on there, but you said you did not stain. I love your area rug too!

At August 27, 2010 at 5:24 PM , Blogger Momma Rhyne said...

Oh that floor is just to die for... LOVE IT!!

At August 27, 2010 at 10:28 PM , Blogger Lindy said...

Beautiful floor, beautiful room! That is a forever floor -- it looks like it's been there forever AND it will last forever. Can't get any better than that!

At August 28, 2010 at 3:01 AM , Blogger Funky Junk Interiors said...

Wow, unreal amount of work but what an outcome! Stunning! Your rug is very pretty, but I'd be tempted to roll it back all the time to keep peeking at that glorious wood. :)


At August 28, 2010 at 3:56 PM , Blogger Korrie@RedHenHome said...

Oh,I would be pulling back that rug on a daily basis to admire that floor!

At August 31, 2010 at 12:14 PM , Blogger decdiva1 said...


At August 31, 2010 at 7:21 PM , Blogger Amy said...

Gorgeous!!! I want to know where the rug came from as well! I want hardwoods so bad.....maybe next year!


At August 31, 2010 at 11:08 PM , Blogger Debbie said...

Boy you are good! Those floors are gorgeous! Did you add my link somewhere and I just do not see it:) I would love to get word out on my party, thanks so much:) Debbie

At September 1, 2010 at 2:01 AM , Blogger Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door said...

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

At September 8, 2010 at 9:19 AM , Blogger Lee Laurie said...

Wow! They are beautiful!

At September 11, 2010 at 4:50 PM , Anonymous Jo said...

Beautiful room Brittany. I love the use of colour.. especially since introducing it is still something I struggle with...
Goes without saying that the floor is gorgeous.. and I admire all the hard work it took.
Now I know it's sacrilegious to talk about the rug..because the floor is the star..
But Brittany I LURVE that rug... where did you get it.?

At September 11, 2010 at 7:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This room is built EXACTLY like this other blogger....

At September 11, 2010 at 8:44 PM , Anonymous Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl said...

Jo, thank you for your compliment! The rug is from Pottery Barn, called Adeline. You can view it here:

Anonymous, wow, that room does look a lot like ours. Our rooms could be in that book, Separated at Birth.


At September 14, 2010 at 7:44 AM , Anonymous Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Wow, you are my new hero! :-) We've done hardwood floors, but hubby always does the "hard" work. I line up and hand him the boards, he uses the tools. (The saw scares me!)

At September 16, 2010 at 12:23 PM , Anonymous Heather said...

I'm so impressed with all the work you did! The floors look amazing. Your living room looks so cozy! Nice job!

At September 18, 2010 at 10:31 AM , Blogger just another stay at home mom said...

I would lose the rug...the floors are too nice....also the fireplace brick would work well in white now that you have the wood floors!

At September 19, 2010 at 9:53 AM , Blogger Liz said...

You are extremely talented! Your floor looks beautiful. I also used to have a red sofa like the one you have. I just sold it on Craigslist...but I miss it.

At September 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM , Blogger Haley said...

I am new to your blog and absolutely love it! I'm wondering where you found the white "birds in a tree" stencil or wall stickies you have on the walls aside your fireplace. Could you please email me where you found those? Thanks.

At September 29, 2010 at 3:45 PM , Blogger Michelle @ Ten June said...

Oh my goodness those floors are to die for! Seriously!! Absolutely perfect!! I can't believe you guys did so much of it yourselves. The whole room came together perfectly!! Great job :)

I'm definitely your newest follower- I love your work! And thanks for stopping by over at Ten June!! I'm glad to have found a new friend!

xo- M

At October 27, 2010 at 4:19 PM , Blogger Rene said...

Your floors are beautiful. We have heart pine in our kitchen and love it.


At October 27, 2010 at 9:01 PM , Blogger Lisa at Paint in my Hair said...

good for you! that is awesome!

At November 3, 2010 at 8:47 AM , Blogger One Life Many Journeys said...

I "heart" your floor! Was it hard to find the flooring?

At November 6, 2010 at 1:05 PM , Blogger Christin@Pregnant with power tools said...

Topless Tomboy ;) I think I have a few pictures like that myself... thanks for reminding me... I need to find and burn those ;) Love the floor - what a great job!

At December 31, 2010 at 9:47 AM , Anonymous Emily, Timeless Paper said...

First time visiting your blog - I had a wonderful visit! Thank you for sharing your wood floor tutorial. So helpful! I'll be back to visit soon.

At January 6, 2011 at 9:50 AM , Blogger Kasey said...

I love how the floor turned out. Where did you get your painting that is above the fireplace? That is really cool.


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