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!
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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
- Bruce Oak Solid Hardwood Flooring (we installed “Spice” color)
- Freeman Flooring Nail Gun (it comes with the rubber mallet)
- Bostitch Air Compressor
- Bostitch 2″ Flooring Nails
- Craftsman Measuring Tape
- Dewalt Compound Miter Saw (+ Stand)
- 15 lb. Roofers Felt
- Bruce Hardwood Cleaner and Mop Floor Care Kit
- Kobalt Fiberglass Claw Hammer
- Kobalt Pry Bar
- Craftsman Screw Driver
- Bostitch Staple Gun
- Bosch Router
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Step 8 // Begin installing the hardwood. Push two pieces of wood perpendicular to each other, locking the tongue-and-groove, up against the jig.
Hammer them in from all sides using the rubber mallet, then secure each into place with the flooring nailer.
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.
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!
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
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!