Now we are finally ready to start laying rows! Select the longest, straightest boards available and use them for the first 2 rows.  You may need to search around and open a few boxes to find the right boards because many of these long boards will be slightly curved or bent.  Lay the first board with the groove facing the starting wall you have chosen, and leave at least a 3/4” expansion gap between the board and the wall.  This gap needs be present whenever the hardwood meets the wall (although if it is a smaller room you may be able to decrease the length of the expansion gap without any problems).  This gap will later be covered by the base moldings.  Be very meticulous with the alignment of these first boards.  Starting out with a straight alignment is vitally important because you want the hardwood to be straight when you reach the opposite wall.  It is also very smart (and necessary in our opinion) to place 3/4” spacers (for the expansion gap) between the wall and the first row because the flooring nailer that will be used for succeeding rows can very easily knock the first rows out of alignment.  We learned this lesson the hard way when we installed our very first hardwood floor, and we still cannot understand why the instructions from hardwood floor companies fail to mention this extremely helpful step!  These spacers are very useful with keeping the boards straight that you tried so hard to align.  With the spacers in and the first board ready for fastening, the time has come for you to use your awesome pneumatic finish nailer gun.

Installing the Very First Row