How To Lay Wide Plank Flooring


This is flooring like that in a homes 100 years ago–which has the disadvantage of taking a little longer to put down and finish, however, you will be able to refinish it a few times and enjoy the floor for up to 100 years.

You need to look closely at the floor that is there now because normally it will have to be removed before putting down the new. Whether it will stay together when you nail the new floor in is only one of the factors to consider. Will the nails penetrate deep enough into the sub-floor to hold tight? Will the floor work it’s way loose over years to come and will the stair risers all be the same after the installation. I have only actually put a floor over an existing floor once, and that was a white cedar floor that was face nailed, tight and more like a sub-floor than regular flooring. As a rule, the existing floor gets stripped out.

Once the floor is removed, you have to look for uneven patches. Often buildings are added on to, porches become part of the room, walls between additions get removed and you may have to use a sander to even things up before you put the new flooring down.

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You will choose a long run that is perpendicular to the sub floor direction and start by chalking a line. The first row of flooring needs to be put down perfectly straight. Any natural curve (crown) needs to be pulled straight. The tongue must be laid in the direction of the floor getting put down–so the tongue goes towards the outer wall.

This first row can be nailed in place or put down with countersunk screws, you will be pulling the other boards against it, so it needs to be secure.



RULE #1 for using Colling-Wood Flooring, “Always glue the flooring down”.

Construction adhesive will keep the flooring in place in the coming decades. It also helps keep wide plank flat. Here we applied an exterior stain, (one that dries solid), because the basement is an open crawlspace which is damp from time to time. It will prevent the floor from cupping.


 RULE #2 for using Colling-Wood Flooring, “Trim 6-8″ off the ends of each board”.

The ends of the boards will be slightly smaller and there may be planer snipe (it may be a little thinner), so, trim some off the ends and you will have a nice tight floor.


You will notice when you receive your flooring that these boards are up to 16′ long and up to 11″ wide. Most producers only make flooring up to 5″ wide, and they trim the ends for you. You are buying direct from the mill–we cut it, we dry it, we plane and mill it to the profile. When you tell us the square footage we add some extra for removing the ends. I have never run short when Merv’s folks calculate what I need.

Special Tools–What to use?

You will need basic carpentry tools, but the specialty tools you will need are pneumatic or manual nailer. These shoot pins or staples normally. I like the pins better, but the staples work fine. It is personal preference.

I use a 15 gauge nailer for the spots where you can’t use the flooring nailer–and quite often countersunk screws and tapered plugs in high traffic areas like thresholds and stair nosings.

You will need a tool to pry the flooring. The guys above were using a chisel–however that was Beech–very hard wood. If you try that on pine it will crush. Always use a block to push pine or other soft woods.

You will need a flush cut saw to trim casings, stair stringers or anything else that might be obstructing the floor. Cutting around these things just isn’t the right way to do it.


Here is an example, we placed a piece of rough flooring against the stringer here, and cut it clear of where the new nosing will be placed.


The thin kerf flush cut saw makes the cut just slightly larger than required…



And the nosing slides right in. We also use the flush cut saw to cut off tapered plugs prior to sanding. Remember… glue the plugs!


 RULE #3 for using Colling-Wood Flooring, “NEVER putty before finishing!”.

You need to resist the primal urge to apply putty to every crack and gap and nail hole in the flooring before finishing–but the truth is, cabinet makers and professional craftsmen will never ever do it. Residue of the putty prevents stain from getting into the grains where putty has been applied…and you will see an irregularity in the finish.

Stain, Verathane….then putty. Use color matched wax based putty for best results!

If you have any questions…feel free to write us at the email on this page!

By: Lawrence Winterburn