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Five Important Accessories to Install Your Own Hardwood Flooring

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2010

You most likely have a pretty good idea what you need, at least the basics (Jigsaw, miter saw, table saw…yada, yada, yada). But there are some other items you might not know about, items where the worth exceeds the cost. I’ve spent a fortune on tools over the years.

These five items are the result of a lot of trial and error. These are items that don’t cost much, but can add to the quality of your project and build your skills. Remember, it’s not an expense, but rather an investment.
Pull-saw, or Japanese handsaw: A pull saw is thin, flexible, and very sharp. You can bend it to reach difficult places. Have a door jamb you need to lay your flooring to? Lay a piece of the flooring you intend to install up against the jamb and use it as a spacer for the pull saw. Personally, I like the Vaughn Bear Saw, but there are a number of these available in home improvement stores, and they cost $12-$15.
Dead-blow hammer: This is NOT a mallet. A dead blow hammer has loose steel shot in a rubberized head. It applies extra force and will not mar the wood surface. Use with a wood block to knock flooring pieces into place when they resist. Under $10.
One-handed bar clamp/spreader: These cost a little more, but they are worth it. Apply it with one hand as a clamp, but reverse the head in seconds and you have a spreader that can be used to hold stubborn flooring in place while you fasten it down. We're a fan of Irwin’s new Quick Grip XP, as well as Craftsman. $12-$40, depending on size and brand.
Folding work table: This will pay for itself in both time and reduced aggravation. Don’t go cheap here, as you really get what you pay for. Check out Stanley’s Fatmax (around $120), which includes on-board power outlets and also doubles as a nicely serviceable hand truck.
Fatmax tape measure: Save yourself a lot of bad words when measuring with this little wonder. It simply doesn’t collapse when you’re trying to reach a far corner and get a reliable measurement. Around $20.
Of course, the best accessory for any home improvement project is a well-supplied and generous buddy. At least, that’s what all of our friends say.