Hallway Floor Install — Almost Finished! (Plus, An Obvious Lesson Learned)

I’m so close to finishing the hardwood flooring installation in the hallway! And the only reason I didn’t finish yesterday is because the last three boards needed to be cut on my table saw, which I have set up outside, and it was too late to use the saw. I try not to use my saws outside after 9:00pm, and I wasn’t ready for those boards until about 10:30pm. So I’ll finish up those last three today.

When I started working yesterday, I had already installed most of the hallway, so I just had about 2.5 feet of the hallway left, plus the entrance into the home gym…

hallway hardwood flooring installation - 1

So I would say I was about 2/3 of the way done when I started yesterday. And yet, that last 1/3 of the flooring took me longer than the first 2/3. It’s always easier and faster to install in open areas, and I had already finished the main open areas on day one.

On day two, I had to start on this area close to the wall. I was only able to to about two more rows using the mallet and flooring nailer. After those two rows, I did the rest with a regular nail gun and a pry bar.

hallway hardwood flooring installation 2

I got to about that point that you see above, and was getting so discouraged and frustrated because no matter what I did, or how much I pried with the pry bar, I couldn’t get those gaps closed between the boards. I happened to mention it on my Instagram stories, and lots of people started messaging me telling me that there’s a specific tool made just for this purpose.

WHAT?! How many hardwood floors have I installed now? I’ve installed the kitchen, breakfast room, pantry, studio, back entry, storage closet, and studio bathroom. And I’ve had this issue with every single floor I’ve installed when I get to the area next to the wall. And yet, I never knew there was a special tool for this.

This is such an obvious lesson, and one that I should know after about three decades of DIYing, and yet it never dawned on me to look for a tool for this specific purpose. So after getting message after message, I ordered this pull bar tool on Amazon.

One end hooks behind the floor board on the wall side, and you use a hammer on the other end that sticks up to pull the board into place.

How in the world did I not know this thing existed? I guess that just goes to show that DIYing is always a learning process!

It’s too late to use it on the hallway flooring. I’m just going to have to fill these gaps before I stain the floor. I had originally planned use a full-trowel wood filler on the entire floor, but I think this time, I might try the sawdust and wood glue filler. I have quite a pile of sawdust from cutting the flooring, and I think the sawdust and wood glue mixture will keep the boards from shifting (since it’s actual wood glue) a lot more than full-trowel wood filler. I’m confident that I it will look good when it’s finished, but I sure wish I had known about that pull bar sooner! 😀

hallway hardwood flooring installation 7
hallway hardwood flooring installation 8

The area in the entry to the home gym was a bit challenging as well.

hallway hardwood flooring installation 3

Since the doorways to the other two rooms (guest bedroom and hallway bathroom) sit perpendicular to the hallway flooring boards, I could easily add transition strips in those doorways. But since the home gym doorway is parallel to the hallway flooring boards, there really wasn’t a way to do a transition. So I decided to install the hallway flooring up to this point…

hallway hardwood flooring installation 4

And then I started the home gym flooring going the other way…

hallway hardwood flooring installation 5

I did it this way because I knew that there was no way the boards would fit perfectly together. Without a doubt, the very last board would need to be ripped on the table saw to fit. So I wanted the ripped board to be right at the entrance of the room rather than further into the room.

hallway hardwood flooring installation 6

I really don’t think a ripped board is going to be noticeable once the floor is stained and sealed since the hallway flooring and the flooring in the entry to the home gym is all going the same direction. There won’t be any obvious wood grain differences, so it’ll all just blend together. At least, I think it will. 😀

I do think the transitions in the bathroom and guest bedroom will show, but those turned out great. There are no obvious gaps, and no ripped boards.

hallway hardwood flooring installation 10
hallway hardwood flooring installation 11

So I have just three more boards to go and the hallway/room entry flooring will be finished. Then I have to install the missing flooring in the closet area of the home gym…

home gym during remodel

Hopefully that will go much quicker with the pull bar. The only tricky part on that closet floor is that I need to work around the new scuttle hole that goes to the crawl space under the house.

So hopefully sometime next week, I’ll be ready to rent the big sander so that I can get all of this flooring in the guest bedroom, home gym, and hallway sanded, stained, and polyurethaned. I’m so ready to get back to the guest bedroom and get it finished!

hallway hardwood flooring installation 9

But seriously, y’all. I’m speaking to you as well as to myself. If there’s a problem you consistently have with a project, chances are high that there’s a tool made specifically for that problem. I should have known that, and yet, it didn’t occur to me to look. I could have saved myself so much frustration over the years with as much hardwood flooring as I’ve installed in this house!!

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  1. I am so glad to see this post. I had seen your IG story and had a dim hope that someone would comment on what can be done to help that. This is one of the reasons I follow your blog. You roll up your sleeves and jump in, and show us all the cool gadgets we need.

  2. Looks awesome!!
    I do remember having the same AHA!! moment when I discovered the handy-dandy pull bar tool. so simple, but so effective!

  3. Awesome. Never stop sharing the struggle, that you have silly little things you still learn. That makes you and your blog authentic. I admire that so, makes you relatable and gives me the encouragement I need to simply try, get over the struggles. The glossy, super perfect blogs lose their appeal, seem unachievable.
    Best wishes on the remainder of these floors

    1. You have me convinced that red oak is the way to go when we remodel this 40 year old house. How are you floors holding up with Cooper? Our floors must be big dog friendly. I was thinking of wax or oil finish in matte but I see you’re using poly and you have a lot of experience. I remember when you used Waterlox!

      1. If I could have chosen the flooring from the beginning, I would have chosen white oak. Just FYI. 🙂 It’s a pain dealing with those red undertones in red oak.

        But the floor has been amazing with Cooper. And he’s a VERY hyper dog, always running and twirling, with lots of stop and starts. But the floor has held up amazingly well with him.

    1. You never cease to amaze me. Love your honesty. You do such a great job with everything you put your mind,and hands to. Always look forward to your emails.

  4. I’ve never heard the term “scuttle hole” before (where I live, most houses have full basements, not crawl spaces), and for some reason it’s really making me laugh. What a perfect name for it!

  5. Kristi, I too have known the pain of not looking for the right tool. So sorry I didn’t mention it before. You are so capable, I thought you were just powering through. In that spirit, you do create a second tongue or grove on your ripped down floorboard when you do your transition?

    1. No, I didn’t create new tongues/grooves on the boards that I ripped down. I do know that that’s how pros do it, but I didn’t feel like purchasing the necessary router bits that I’ll probably never use again. So I just used wood glue on those areas. 😀

  6. I have one of those tools! I didn’t know it was for hardwood flooring too. I installed a lot of floating laminate click flooring and it was key in getting the flooring to fit tight. I ran through more than one of them as it bent some with my prying and tapping. I am so glad you brought this up as I have to extend my hardwood where I am moving a wall and will need to tighten the installed pieces in that snug space. Your floor looks great. No one will see a narrower piece when you are done.

  7. I’m a new reader and have the same view as others, your work, and how you present it on your blog is real and although I have zero experience I am inspired by you and am learning from you. Thank you for that. I like the details you share and enjoy reading all the comments. If you have already mentioned it, I missed it, I am wondering if you are putting doors on that closet what kind are you installing? I have a similar room, where one end of the closet is a foot from the wall so I’m looking for ideas and hoping to do it myself.

    1. I won’t be putting doors on that closet, but I did have it framed out so that if I do ever decide I want doors on it, it will fit two sets of 48-inch bifold doors. But for now, this will be our home gym, and I want to keep this area open so that I can put hooks on the wall, shelves, etc., to store home gym stuff.

  8. Kristi – long time follower, first time commenting. Love your blog and follow you religiously as I get so many good pointers. I hope you’ll be sharing how you work around the scuttle hole as I have a similar project that I’ve just stopped working on because of uncertainty of installing flooring over a trap door in the floor and making everything match up. As always, I’ll be watching to see if I can get some pointers.

  9. As usual this is the most informative blog without any arrogance of “I know it all.”and assumption that we should know what is in your head. Having An open mind and admitting a struggle opens the door to many proven solutions. It is not always a new tool, there are many old techniques that become lost due to depending on a specific tool. When you admit a struggle on here we get the privilege of hearing all types of solutions. Sometimes these solutions are passed down and may only be regional. Thank you Kristi for allowing us to connect worldwide and learn along with you. I did not see the survey but I have been with you since Condo days . F/m 68 remodeling

    Below is just a decoration suggestion Post
    How do we buy things that compliment our rooms and use existing pieces to hang on the walls in groupings that don’t look haphazard. What are the rule on how many walls to decorate before it is too much. I find things I like but do not know why it works.

  10. Everything looks great. I have used that tool. I love reading your blogs, its a great inspiring way to start the day.

  11. The correct tools are EVERYTHING! I love Fine Homebuilding for good info
    Have you seen the knee pads that are like roller skate!? 😀 life changing!

  12. I was gone all day yesterday and didn’t see your Instagram, but I probably would have assumed you had the pull bar already. We may have gone through three of them, as well as blocks to hammer in laminate when installing probably five floors of laminate. We’ve used them at our homes, my brother in laws and one of my daughters homes. They do wear out over time, and my husband is hard on them too. Nice to have backups on hand especially if you know you will do more flooring.

  13. I didn’t think for a moment that you DIDNT have the pull bar. Odd but it never occurred to me.
    I have a question, why is your scuttle hole in the house rather than outside? And do y’all need a vapor barrier in Texas?

    1. In this area, I’ve only seen exterior scuttle holes on houses that are much older than mine. I’m glad mine is inside. Exterior access to crawl spaces, accessible to literally anyone, is the stuff of horror movies to me.

      Whether or not a vapor barrier is needed is dependent upon what kind of crawl space you have. We have a vented crawl space, so no vapor barrier is needed. Unvented crawl spaces require vapor barriers. I think unvented crawl spaces are more common in areas with much harsher winters, because people don’t want that cold air being able to get under their homes. Since we don’t have harsh winters here, I think vented crawl spaces are more common, at least on homes around the age of ours.

  14. Several years ago, I installed laminate flooring in my home office. Somewhere along the line, I heard about the pull bar and got one. Best thing ever!

  15. Well done you!! I really like the way you transitioned the flooring into the other rooms – looks terrific!

  16. I am confused on the floor plan. Did you move the built in white cabinet with peeves litter box or is it in the same place