diy projects

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Let’s talk hardwoods! You know I’m a huge hardwood flooring fan and it was probably no surprise to see us starting on the floor in my office immediately after finishing the guest bathroom reno. Emmett and I are planning to replace the previous engineered hardwoods (that were in rough shape) throughout the main level of our home with these gorgeous solid hardwoods… in a herringbone pattern! In both of our previous homes, we’ve always refinished the hardwood flooring, so it was a new challenge replacing our carpet and installing hardwoods from the very beginning of the process. It honestly was MUCH easier than both Emmet and I expected. Since we’re not quite ready to renovate the office just yet, we’re holding off on installing new baseboards and millwork, but it looks incredible and I’m already thrilled with the result (pictured above). Click through for the complete tutorial on how to install herringbone hardwood flooring. Of course there are also before images, a video, my design reasoning, and our plan of attack for finishing the remainder of the flooring.

*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!

BEFORE

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com The flooring in our home is 90% carpet. There is A LOT of it, and unfortunately- this style is just not my jam. It’s dark, heavy, isn’t wearing well with our highly active dogs (even though it’s relatively new), and adds to the overall builder-grade vibe this house has inside. We’ll eventually replace the carpet with carpet in the basement and bedrooms (because I actually like cozy carpet), but mostly everywhere else- you can expect to see this gorgeous herringbone hardwood.

DESIGN PROCESS

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Before we dive into the how-to steps, I wanted to quickly share my reasoning for choosing this option.

Why hardwood over another material like engineered hardwood or laminate?

I’m kind of a material purist… the tried & true, classic options are always my first preference. This solid hardwood is tongue-and-groove, is ¾” thick (one solid piece of wood), and is the real deal. It can be refinished over & over again as it naturally wears and patinas. It will never need to be replaced, it will literally last 100+ years, it feels durable & sturdy underfoot (it doesn’t give at all!), and will increase the resale value of our home someday. The variation found within natural hardwood also emphasizes the herringbone pattern perfectly- which is exactly what I was looking for.

On the contrary, engineered hardwood (which would’ve been my second choice) is a sandwich of layers (called plies) of plywood bonded together. The top layer is a thin wood veneer that is usually 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick… therefore, it typically can’t ever be refinished. You might be able to refinish it once, but it may be difficult and the results can vary. Since it is a bonded material, it also sounds and looks more artificial because it naturally has some give. My decision boiled down to the most timeless option and the best selection for resale value. The name of the game in this renovation is quality and SOLID… solid heavy doors, solid hardwood floors, real natural stone, etc.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com I visited my local Lowe’s to grab some samples and they actually have a giant Bruce Hardwood display in my store (samples are 25 cents, FYI). I knew that would be the best fit for our house immediately upon seeing the display. It felt higher-end, had the most color selections, and the solid tongue-and-groove construction that Emmett requested. Initially, I was sold on the “Mellow” color, but after bringing both samples home, I changed my mind and committed to “Spice”. It’s a nice medium tone that is warm and inviting, but not too orange. The “Walnut” color is almost an exact match to our previous hardwoods (in both our first and second home). Typically I’m drawn to darker hardwood flooring, but I just felt like I wanted a change and was ready to mix it up this time around! Those are definitely my top 3 picks though… Spice, Mellow, and Walnut, in case you were curious.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Lastly- why herringbone? I’d probably respond with “why not?”. Haha! We’ve had this same size hardwood, species, and plank shape in our two previous homes and I was just ready for a change. I actually tried to convince Emmett to install a parquet or geometric pattern (as seen in gorgeous European flats), but he voted no. It would have been so much more time consuming, so we compromised on herringbone. It’s a timeless pattern that adds interest and instant sophistication to an otherwise standard hardwood floor. Let’s get to tutorial, shall we?!

TUTORIAL

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com I’m sharing our complete process- which includes the removal of carpet, but feel free to skip those steps and supplies if your area is already demoed and ready for hardwood! Here is what you’ll need for this project… I’m linking the exact tools we used below.

SUPPLIES + TOOLS

Unfortunately, I was wrapped up with another work project for the duration of the hardwood installation, but Emmett’s friend Kris came over to lend an extra hand (you’ll see him in the video). The process went pretty fast with one of them cutting pieces in the garage while the other one nailed it down. We kind of had to jump around and film parts of the video toward the end of the process to catch Emmett in the daylight (remember, we usually work in the evenings), but this should still give you a good idea of how the project came to life!

Alright- and now for the step-by-step tutorial… this is what the room looked like as I started ripping up the carpet:

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 1 // Remove the carpet. Carpet is surprisingly easy to remove. I actually tackled this part of the project. I just started in a corner, pulled it up, and rolled it out of the way.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com After removing the carpet, you’ll want to remove the carpet pad, as well as all carpet tacks and nails. That’s the tedious part of removing carpet. I used our Kobalt pry bar and a screw driver. It’s not at all difficult, just time consuming.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 2 // Remove the baseboard. We’ll eventually add new baseboards, so we weren’t super careful with those during demo. Once those were pulled off of the wall, we were ready to prep the area for hardwood.

Step 3 // Install the roofing felt. Next you’ll want to unroll the roofers felt and staple it down to the subfloor. This will create a nice moisture barrier between the subfloor and hardwood.

Step 4 // Establish the layout and find the center of the room. Once you’ve determined which direction your herringbone pattern will run, you’ll want to find the center. That’s where you’ll begin, then work your way out. You can mark the floor with a chalk line or whatever is easiest!

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 5 // Create a jig (aka template piece) and nail it down. Emmett cut a piece of backer board to a 90 degree triangle that we used for a jig… aka, template piece. Make sure you screw the jig down so once you start laying the hardwood, it doesn’t shift. Trust me when I say, it will be VERY bad if the pattern gets off track. You’ll end up having to make a million cuts.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 6 // Make the hardwood cuts. Using a circular saw (we just used our existing Dewalt miter saw), cut the hardwood pieces to size. Emmett set the saw so that it would make the same consistent, precise cut for each piece…. it’s much faster than measuring each plank. He also cut an entire box at a time to accelerate the installation process.

Step 7 // Router the ends. Using a router with a tongue and groove bit, router a groove into both short ends of the plank. This ensures they lock together properly.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 8 // Begin installing the hardwood. Push two pieces of wood perpendicular to each other, locking the tongue-and-groove, up against the jig.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Hammer them in from all sides using the rubber mallet, then secure each into place with the flooring nailer.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Each piece of wood gets 3 nails… one in the center and one on each end- no further than two inches from the sides. This Freeman flooring nailer is activated by hitting it on the end with the rubber mallet. It took Emmett a little practice before he started going quickly. Repeat this process until you get to the end of the row.

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 9 // Start on a new row. Remove the jig and screw it into place on the next row. Work your way back down toward the opposing wall just as you did with the first row.

Step 10 // Fill in the corner pieces. Once you have the majority of the hardwood installed, you’ll need to cut smaller pieces for the perimeter of the room. These can be tough to wiggle in, so you’ll want to cut them just slightly smaller, so they go in easier and allow for expansion and contraction. You don’t want them to fit super tight!

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Step 11 // Add finishing pieces. If you have a threshold or any finishing pieces, this is the time to add them! Since we’ll be tiling the entryway next to the office, we just ran a straight line of hardwood between the door jamb, for a finished look. Depending on what tile we choose, we can eventually swap that for a proper threshold!

As Emmett mentioned in the video, installing hardwood was much easier than we anticipated… it also went faster than we had imagined, especially given the intricate pattern. Once you get in the groove, it’s really just a game of repetition.

CLEANING + CARE

How to Install Herringbone Hardwood Flooring - roomfortuesday.com Lastly, I figured I’d quickly touch on the upkeep of hardwoods. Like any other natural material, these will patina and wear over time. Luckily, Bruce hardwood has a tough urethane finish that protects against traffic, wear, soil, and stains. It also includes a 5-year residential finish warranty. We have dogs, we LIVE in our house, and it’s certainly not a showroom. I know it will eventually get scratched, and I’m 100% ok with that. However, I did want to do a better job cleaning it as directed. I went ahead and bought the Bruce hardwood cleaning kit and that is what I’ll use to clean the new floor moving forward. They should be super durable though!

Any questions? Leave them in the comments below. Depending on the question- either Emmett or myself will respond! I’m thrilled with the way the office floor turned out and I can’t wait to move onto other rooms in our house. I’m also eager to share my design plan for the office once we’re ready to fully tackle that space. We have a big project in the meantime though… I’ll share more very soon!

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  • Reply
    Peggi
    April 2, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Smashing! The herringbone looks dreamy, and I love the color. I bet if Emmett had known how easy it was going to be, you could have talked him into a parquet pattern! I’m curious about two things. Why did you choose prefinished over unfinished? I presume for ease and the durability of a factory finish. Also, it looks like the ends of each piece have a groove, but I can’t figure out how that would be the case for the cut pieces. Are my eyes being tricked?
    Another big project that’s not your office?! Backyard? Can’t wait to see.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 7:24 am

      Thanks Peggi! We went with pre-finished because it was just a lot easier for us- one less step. Yes, great catch on the ends. The ends do have a groove that we added with a router (Step 7). As for our next project, we’ll definitely be tackling the yard- but hopefully it won’t be a “big” project or too much work. It’s in pretty great shape to start :)

  • Reply
    Monica
    April 2, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Oh my – I LOVED seeing this! Emmett did such a great job!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Thank you so much Monica! I am loving the new floors… I can’t wait to see it travel throughout other rooms in the house :)

  • Reply
    Julie
    April 2, 2019 at 9:15 am

    These look amazing – timeless and high-end! Emmett (and Kris) did such a great job! I’m so glad to hear it was actually quite an easy project. We have a carpeted hallway that needs hardwoods installed (to match the adjacent rooms), and I had hyped up the scale of the project in my mind, but you make it actually seem very approachable! :)

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Thank you so much Julie! They really did an amazing job. I wish I could say I helped, haha! I only ripped up the carpet. I think you could definitely tackle your hallway. I also expected this project to be much worse than it actually was :) xo

  • Reply
    Danielle
    April 2, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Did you consider having some sort of border?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Great question Danielle! I definitely did. It would’ve been honestly been ideal, but this fall we’re planning to finish the office space and we’ll be adding built-ins, french doors, other architectural elements, etc. Unfortunately, I haven’t designed all of those additions quite yet, so without knowing what the footprint of the room will look like, it was just easiest to exclude a border in this room. I didn’t want to add a border and then have it look unbalanced or be covered up later on. xox

  • Reply
    Stacy
    April 2, 2019 at 9:43 am

    I just laid a slate herringbone tile in one of my bathrooms and putting it down was KILLER but the pattern is so worth it! Your floors are beautiful!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Oohhhh yes! That sounds gorgeous, but tiling is HARD work. We just finished our bathroom and I thought tiling would be the death of me. Emmett and I both agreed this was nothing compared to installing tile. Haha! I bet your slate looks stunning and was worth it though :)

  • Reply
    Gabrielle
    April 2, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Hi, Sarah! Those floors are absolutely beautiful. I read that the length of the hardwood pieces should be a multiple of the width. I was just wondering what length you used in your project.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 9:56 am

      Thanks Gabrielle! The box contains pieces anywhere from 8 inches to 5 feet- so lots of variation. We ended up cutting ours to 11″ because it looked best with the scale of the room. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Helena McNeice
    April 2, 2019 at 10:08 am

    The floor looks beautiful. I am just wondering when you go to refinish the flooring how it will work with the pattern? I envision a large sander that is supposed to be used with the grain of the wood. By doing a herring bone pattern, does this mean you can’t rent an industrial sander and will have to do it by hand? I love this pattern and would like to use it in our home but this is the only thing holding me back.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Thank you Helena! Wonderful question… you can still sand them down and refinish (with relatively the same amount of work). You would have a couple different sanding options- use an orbital sander or square sander, or use the drum sander in different directions. This article goes into MUCH more detail and recommends sanding straight across one way, then back in the other direction. The result should look the exact same! Hopefully that helps to answer it. You definitely wouldn’t need to hand sand the flooring- that would take forrrrrever. xox

  • Reply
    Helena McNeice
    April 2, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for the quick reply. I am headed to read the article now. Great video of Emmett and Kris.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Helena :)

  • Reply
    LeeAnn
    April 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Do you have a list of engineered wood favorites??

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 2, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      I’m sorry, I don’t. That’s a great idea for a post though. Thanks LeeAnn! xo

  • Reply
    Leslie
    April 2, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    What beautiful floors and your detailed step by step instruction is great! Just found your blog, can’t wait to read through your other posts.

    – Leslie @ https://texasbuckeyewife.com/

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 3, 2019 at 7:41 am

      Thank you so much Leslie! xox

  • Reply
    Cindy Keas
    April 20, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Can you provide a link or some advice on what to buy for the Router bit to cut the tongue and groove? Seems like there are a lot to choose from on the internet.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 22, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Hi Cindy! Absolutely… we used this bit (linked). xox

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    July 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    Sorry I have so many questions! 1) Did you have to worry at all that your floors weren’t perfectly even and have to correct for that? 2) Did you worry about putting wood in the kitchen where folks worry about water leaking damage? 3a) I assume you bought enough wood for the entire main floor at once so it would be from the same lot. Did you leave it sit for a while to acclimate in temperature? 3b) Will you install it in each room as you go, or do the whole house at once? 3c) Where are you storing it all in the meantime?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 15, 2019 at 7:57 am

      Hi Stephanie! No problem at all… #1- yes & no, you want to make sure they’re level (obviously), but we didn’t go to the trouble of replacing the subfloor or anything. The pattern is a little more forgiving. #2- not at all! We had wood in our first kitchen and loved it. It’s a great, durable, natural material. We also replumbed everything, so we knew there wouldn’t be any leaks. #3a- Nope… we actually have been buying room by room, and there isn’t any variation. With larger vendors (like Lowe’s / Bruce Hardwood), it’s very consistent in color and doesn’t vary batch to batch. We did bring it inside and allow it to acclimate for a week or so. #3b- We’ll install room by room, just because that’s typically how we work. We store it in our garage or inside (our house is pretty large). Hope this helps! xox

  • Reply
    Judy
    July 18, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Do you know if this can be glued down onto concrete? I’m assuming the glue would also be a sealer.
    I guess you could put subflooring onto the concrete and then the hardwood but then it would be really thick……wouldn’t it?
    If it was glued down then the hardwood would need to be glued instead of nailed.
    Was the Bruce hardwood cheaper than engineered hardwood?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 19, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Hi Judy! No, this particular product needs to be nailed. The hardwood was not less expensive than engineered hardwood. Hope this answers your questions! xo

  • Reply
    Langdon
    July 28, 2019 at 6:38 am

    How long are each of your planks? I know that box of planks comes in varying sizes, so what length did you end up cutting them all to and how much “wastage” was there.

    thank you!!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 29, 2019 at 8:12 am

      We cut our planks to 14″ in length to maximize the product and cut waste! Hope this helps :)

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