I'm planning to install tongue and groove hardwood flooring in my living room, dining room, kithcen, hallway, and powder room. The longest unbroken length of floor runs from the front bay of the house (living room) all the way through the dining room and kitchen to the back door - about 60 feet. There are archways connecting most rooms with a couple smaller doorways as well. Another consideration is that the house is very old so very little is square.

I'm trying to figure out two things: how to make sure the boards look straight from the front of the house to the back, and which run to start with. The first thing that comes to mind to making the runs straight is to make a chaulk line from the bay to the back door then orienting all runs to that line.

Regarding which run to start with my understanding is that I would start against some wall, groove side out. If I do this and build out until the runs are far enough out from the wall that I can pass through an archway to the adjoining room, how can I then attach planks in that adjoining room to fill the floor space up to the wall on the same side of the house I originally started on (in the first room)? How would I nail these planks since I wouldn't have access to the grooves for those 20 or so runs to the wall?

I'm guessing this is a common issue to deal with when installing in more than one room connected along the same line as the floor runs.


alt text

  • 2
    I seem to recall a DIY TV show where they ran down the middle of the room first, then worked to either side of it ... I want to say they put something in the grove to turn it into a tongue side so they could work off the board in either direction, but it was years ago, and my memory's foggy enough I might be imagining it. (if I'm right, it was a refit of a really long, narrow house ... so it might've been something related to the cleanup in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina)
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 19:51
  • can you show a floor plan? Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 20:34
  • @shirlock homes: Added floor plan, above.
    – jlpp
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 2:32
  • 2
    You can buy hardwood tongues that would allow you to work off of both sides of a central run. Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 16:06

5 Answers 5


First, remember to lay your wood perpendicular to the floor joists. Laying it parallel can cause a waving effect which is unpleasant.

Next, find the longest, longest, straightest wall which is perpendicular to the joists. Measure out two feet from the wall all the way down the wall. Then find the best line down these marks, snap a chalk line, Measure back to the wall about 23 and 5/8 inches. Snap a this line. Line up your first run of floor against this line, tongue side out (nail through the tongue).

As for room to room, if they are really out of square with each other, try building a transition between rooms:


This allows you to lay each room separately, allowing each room to be square.

  • My house has a transition piece in each doorway so that when I put wood in other rooms, they are independent. Doesn't look as finished to me, but it helps laying each room.
    – BrianK
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 18:51

Installed my neighbor's hardwood floors, but don't know anything about them other than that. We started in a corner and made our way from there, doing one row at a time. Worked well, and I don't see the benefit of starting in the middle of the room.

I'd check with a professional about how much expansion/contraction will be a problem. With floating hardwood floors, I've been warned that if you install them super tight when it's cold, they'll buckle when it's hot -- and the opposite will make them shrink out form underneath the trim. I suppose it might not be a problem since you're nailing them down, though.


I would make the chalk line like you mentioned, and then measure off of the line over to the left side of your living room (looking at your drawing) and make a new chalk line and then start laying from the bottom left corner.

When you pass through to the dining room, you have a couple options. You can try measuring off the original chalk line again and then work back to the middle of the room. I wouldn't recommend this because you would have to be VERY precise to get it lined up with the living room flooring you've already laid.

Your second option is to do what Joe mentioned in a comment to your question. Use a small strip of wood to create a new tongue so you can turnaround and work your way towards the left wall.


Another option is to start at the bottom of the living room. Save a long board to run out the living room door to the dining room once your run is clear of the door. Lightly nail it down so it won't move, but leave the heads clear so you can pull it up. Now you grab a bunch of smaller boards, and build back (without nailing!) to the bottom left corner of the dining room. Once you get to the wall, nail that board in and use it as a starting point. Pull up the boards you've used for measuring and carry on.

It's a bit time consuming, and I've only used this technique in closets and shorter spans than you've shown here.


I like to suggest dropping a chalk line in the middle of the room on the diagonal and nailing a one by two board following that chalk line. Start with the groove of first board against that one by two and install to the corner. Once you have installed to the corner, remove the one by two and fit a quarter inch by 3/8th inch spline in the groove and nail it like it was a tongue. Install to the opposite corner. This is an awesome way to install a wood floor especially if the walls aren't straight or the joists change directions in the middle if the floor. You span the joists both ways.

  • Welcome to Home Improvement. This is a 9 year old question, but it's a good answer. Please take the tour and browse through the help center to learn how to make the most of the site.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 10:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.