A hardwood floor in use

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install Hardwood Floors on Plywood: Transforming Your Space

Hardwood floors add timeless beauty, warmth, and a touch of luxury to any space. Installing them on plywood is a popular choice for many homeowners, providing a stable and durable foundation. If you’re ready to embark on the journey of transforming your living space with hardwood, follow this comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to install hardwood floors on plywood.

1. Gather Your Materials and Tools

Before diving into the installation process, make sure you have all the necessary materials and tools. Here’s a checklist to get you started:


  • Hardwood flooring planks
  • Plywood subfloor
  • Moisture barrier or underlayment
  • Flooring adhesive or nails
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Finishing nails
  • Stain and finish of your choice


  • Circular saw or miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Tapping block
  • Rubber mallet
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Flooring nailer or stapler
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Trowel for adhesive

2. Prepare the Plywood Subfloor

A proper foundation is crucial for a successful hardwood floor installation. Start by ensuring that your plywood subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Repair any imperfections, such as holes or uneven surfaces, using a suitable wood filler. Sand the subfloor to create a smooth surface, removing any bumps or rough areas.

3. Install a Moisture Barrier or Underlayment

To protect your hardwood floor from moisture, especially if you’re installing it over a plywood subfloor, lay down a moisture barrier or underlayment. This acts as a cushion and helps reduce noise. Roll out the material, overlapping seams and securing it to the subfloor with a staple gun.

4. Plan Your Layout

Before installing the hardwood planks, plan the layout to ensure a balanced and aesthetically pleasing design. Start from the center of the room and work your way outward. Use a chalk line to mark straight reference lines for alignment.

5. Acclimate the Hardwood Flooring

Allow your hardwood flooring to acclimate to the environment by placing it in the room for at least 48 hours before installation. This helps prevent expansion or contraction of the wood after installation.

6. Install the First Row

Begin installation by laying the first row of hardwood planks along the reference lines. For a neater appearance, leave a 1/2-inch expansion gap between the planks and the walls. Secure the planks to the plywood subfloor using either flooring adhesive or nails. If using adhesive, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

7. Use a Flooring Nailer or Stapler

As you continue installing the hardwood planks, use a flooring nailer or stapler to secure them to the plywood subfloor. Place the nailer at a 45-degree angle and strike it with a rubber mallet to ensure a tight fit. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the specific type of flooring nailer or stapler you’re using.

8. Cut Planks to Fit

As you reach the end of each row, you’ll likely need to cut some planks to fit the remaining space. Measure and mark the plank accordingly, then use a circular saw or miter saw to make precise cuts. Remember to wear safety gear, including goggles and ear protection, when operating power tools.

9. Stagger the Joints

For a visually appealing and structurally sound hardwood floor, stagger the end joints of adjacent rows. This prevents a repetitive pattern and enhances the stability of the installation.

10. Install the Last Row

Installing the last row of hardwood flooring can be challenging because it often requires cutting planks to fit the remaining space. Use a table saw to achieve accurate cuts, and ensure the final row is securely fastened to the plywood subfloor.

11. Address Door Frames and Transitions

When you encounter door frames or transitions between rooms, you’ll need to make precise cuts to ensure a seamless look. Use a jamb saw or a handsaw to cut the bottom of door frames, allowing the hardwood planks to slide underneath.

12. Fill Gaps and Nail Holes

After the hardwood floor installation is complete, inspect the entire surface for any gaps or visible nail holes. Fill these gaps with wood filler that matches the color of your hardwood. Sand the filled areas to create a smooth and uniform surface.

13. Sand and Finish the Hardwood Floors

To achieve a professional and polished look, sand the entire hardwood floor surface. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually move to finer grits. This process smoothens the wood and removes any imperfections.

After sanding, apply the stain and finish of your choice. This step not only enhances the appearance of the hardwood but also protects it from wear and tear. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application and drying times.

14. Allow for Final Curing

Once the finish has dried, allow the hardwood floor to cure for the recommended time before placing furniture or heavy objects on it. This final step ensures the longevity of your hardwood flooring installation.

Conclusion: Revel in the Beauty of Your Hardwood Floors

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed hardwood floors on plywood, transforming your space into a showcase of timeless elegance. With proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floors will continue to add charm and value to your home for years to come. Enjoy the warmth, durability, and beauty that hardwood brings to your living space!