With the walls and doorways ready to go, the next step is to establish a starting point to begin laying wood. The best place to start is parallel to the longest, straightest outside wall, as this outside wall tends to be the straightest one in your house. Starting from this wall is only possible if you can install the wood planks perpendicular to the floor joists which will minimize the possibility of the floor sinking or caving in. Installing wood from this longer wall can also help the room appear larger and more spacious than it actually is. If you don’t know the direction that the floor joists run, use a stud finder to find out.
Note: Another option for a starting point is at the center of the room. This method is very useful because it allows you to install hardwood in both directions, making it easier if there are many workers. To start at the center, measure from both walls that run parallel to the center board so you can center it as accurately as possible. Many hardwood floor installers call this center board the sacrificial board because after using it they rip it out and replace it with another board. However, if you cut and install a spline you do not need to sacrifice this board (how to cut and install a spline is explained in Chapter 6). Instead, you can blind nail (how to blind nail is explained in Chapter 3) both the tongue and the spline, then start installing hardwood in both directions without having to “sacrifice” your board. With the center board securely fastened in place, switch off installing rows from both sides to reduce the chance of knocking the center board out of alignment.