How to Install Hardwood Flooring on Plywood: 3 Practical Steps

Installing hardwood flooring on plywood is a transformative process that enhances the aesthetic appeal of a space and adds durability and warmth. During the process, you need to measure precisely, plan carefully, and use the right tools and materials.

To install hardwood flooring on plywood, you need to start by preparing the plywood subfloor. Measure and cut the planks, apply adhesive or nails and fit them tightly together. You must use the right fasteners, whether nails or screws, to ensure a secure fit.

Throughout this article, we will share how to install hardwood flooring on plywood, from preparing the plywood subfloor to mastering the installation. Get ready to upgrade your space with the elegance and warmth of hardwood flooring on plywood.

How to Install Hardwood Flooring on Plywood: Steps to Take

Hardwood floors, like any other floor installation, require a lot of preparation to ensure success. Here is a step-by-step guide on installing hardwood flooring on plywood:

  1. Plywood subfloor preparation
  2. Hardwood installation techniques:
  • Nailing method
  • Screwing method
  • Gluing method
  1. Final checks

Step 01: Plywood Subfloor Preparation

Prepare your plywood subfloor for hardwood flooring installation by ensuring it’s level, flat, and dry.

You can begin by using a straight edge or spirit level to check for any unevenness or bumps on the surface of the plywood. If you find any high spots, use a sander or planer to level them down.

Next, inspect for any dips or low spots in the subfloor. Fill these areas with a floor-leveling compound, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid using underlay to level the subfloor, as it can cause issues with the stability of the hardwood flooring.

After leveling, check the moisture content of the plywood using a moisture meter. Aim for a moisture content of 16% or below to ensure the subfloor is dry enough for installation.

Step 02: Hardwood Installation Techniques

After preparing your subfloor, you’re ready to start the installation process. The following three installation methods are available to you:

No 01: Nailing Method

You can install hardwood flooring on plywood using the nailing method, which involves securing the planks directly onto the plywood subfloor using toothed nails.

Ensure a proper fit by measuring and marking the layout of the hardwood planks. Then, begin nailing the first row of planks along the starting wall, leaving a small gap for expansion. Continue this process, ensuring each plank is tightly secured with nails.

No 02: Screwing Method

In this method, you’ll need screws designed for flooring, such as Tongue-Tites, spaced approximately 300mm apart. These screws will provide stability and securely fasten the hardwood planks to the plywood subfloor.

Make sure to avoid using brad or finish nailers, as they can compromise the integrity of the flooring system. The screwing method is a reliable and robust technique for installing hardwood flooring.

No 03: Gluing Method

Make sure the subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Remove any existing flooring and sweep away any debris. Fill any cracks or gaps with a suitable wood filler and sand the subfloor to create a smooth surface. Apply a flexible flooring adhesive to the subfloor using a trowel to cover the entire area.

Press the hardwood planks firmly into the adhesive, ensuring they’re aligned properly. Allow the adhesive to dry completely before walking on the floor.

Step 03: Final Checks

Now your hardwood floor is installed. Take a moment to check it for any mistakes or corrections you may need.

Conduct a thorough inspection of the entire hardwood flooring installation on plywood for any gaps, unevenness, or issues with individual planks.

  • Start by visually examining the floor, looking for noticeable gaps between the planks. These gaps can be a sign of improper installation or potential moisture issues.
  • After that, run your hand over the floor’s surface to check for uneven areas. If you notice any high spots or dips, it may indicate a problem with the subfloor or the installation itself.
  • Look closely at each plank, checking for any loose or damaged pieces. Ensure that all the planks are securely attached to the plywood subfloor.
  • Finally, pay attention to the finer details, such as filling nail holes with appropriate filler for a polished and finished appearance.

These final checks will help ensure your hardwood floor installation’s overall quality and longevity.

Can I install hardwood flooring on plywood over radiant floor heating?

You can install hardwood flooring on plywood over radiant floor heating. But ensure the plywood is at least 5/8′ thick. This will provide a stable base for your hardwood flooring.

The adhesive you use to glue hardwood floors should be suitable for hardwood flooring and compatible with underfloor heating systems. This will ensure a secure and lasting bond between the flooring and the subfloor.

How do I maintain and care for hardwood flooring installed on plywood?

Regarding maintaining and caring for hardwood flooring installed on plywood, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Regularly sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that can scratch the surface.
  • Use a recommended hardwood floor cleaner and a damp mop to clean the floor. Avoid using excessive water or harsh cleaning products that can damage the wood.
  • Wipe up any spills immediately using a soft cloth or paper towel to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood and causing warping or staining.
  • Place furniture pads under the legs of your furniture to prevent scratches and denting.
  • Avoid dragging heavy objects across the floor to prevent damage.
  • Periodically inspect the floor for wear or damage. If you notice any scratches, gouges, or discoloration, address them promptly to prevent further deterioration.
  • Consider using area rugs or mats in high-traffic areas to protect the floor from excessive wear.

Transform Your Home with Gorgeous Hardwood Flooring on Plywood

Installing hardwood flooring on plywood is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance the beauty and value of your home. You can ensure a successful installation by following the steps outlined in this article.

Prioritizing subfloor preparation, acclimation, and installation method selection can ensure a durable and visually appealing hardwood floor.

Also, maintaining and caring for hardwood flooring on plywood is simple, with regular cleaning and maintenance. With proper care, hardwood floors over plywood will continue to shine for many years.



Key Points:

  • Start the bonus room transformation by replacing carpet with solid oak hardwood flooring.
  • Update baseboards and add built-in cabinetry like Murphy beds and a closet dresser combo.
  • Begin the process by removing existing trim and carpet, emphasizing caution to avoid damaging drywall.
  • Install a plastic vapor barrier with an adhesive strip to prevent moisture-related issues with the solid hardwood flooring.
  • Ensure proper acclimation of the flooring by removing it from boxes during this period.
  • Address uneven subfloors using asphalt shingles as shims to level the surface for hardwood installation.
  • Use a pneumatic flooring stapler as a key tool for securing hardwood planks effectively.
  • Undercut door jambs for a flush transition between rooms using a pull saw and a piece of flooring as a spacer.
  • Cut and install the last row of planks, addressing width variations and using a table saw for precision.
  • Complete the project by installing door casing and baseboards, filling nail holes for a polished finish.
  • Three main methods for fitting hardwood floors to plywood: floating, gluing, and nailing.
  • Plywood preparation: Check level and flatness, avoid underlay, verify dryness with a moisture meter (16% MC or below).
  • Secret Nailing: Use toothed nails (50mm) to secure planks directly onto plywood for both solid and engineered wood flooring.
  • Secret Screwing: Use screws designed for flooring (e.g., Tongue-Tites), spaced approximately 300mm apart.
  • Gluing: Both solid and engineered wood flooring can be glued directly to plywood using flexible flooring adhesive.
  • Floating Over Underlay: Suitable for engineered wood flooring only, planks can be glued or clicked together.
  • Ensure no service pipes underneath when secret nailing or screwing, unroll underlayment and moisture barrier with no overlap.
  • Some flooring planks have attached underlayment; check instructions for the need for a separate moisture barrier.