Installing tongue-and-groove porch flooring. Old House Porch Remodeling:

Installing Tongue-and-Groove
Porch Flooring

In This Article:

Tongue-and-groove flooring is pre-primed and installed on the porch framing.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 3-4 (Moderate to Advanced) Time Taken: About 8 Hours

By , Editor


To repair the porch similar to the original design, the owner of this old house purchased a large quantity of Southern Yellow Pine tongue-and-groove flooring. Some people use pressure treated radius-edged decking for porch repairs on old houses, but that material is anything but authentic.

The porch framing after completion. We had laid some scraps of OSB over the framing so people could walk over the porch and use the front door.

Since the floor planks were all the same length, about 5 feet long, we pre-cut all the pieces. 

A few days before starting, we treated the flooring in a special water repellent mixture, using a piece of rain gutter as a basin. We let the boards dry for a day.


Then we painted the back side and the groove of each plank with oil-based primer.

We used Sears Weatherbeater Exterior Oil Primer, an excellent product with one possible drawback... it takes 24 hours to dry. Slow drying may allow the primer to penetrate better, and drying time was no problem here.

Most Sears paints are made by Sherwin-Williams, so a similar product may be available at other stores.


We were careful to get paint into all the grooves, as well as the other end of the boards, which will be against the house when installed.

The ultimate goal here is to paint all 6 sides of each plank. It took a little extra work, but there is plenty of evidence to show that a fully-painted piece of wood will last much longer than a board painted on only one side. Why? Because complete paint coverage means that moisture (liquid and vapor) will be discouraged from entering the wood, and it's well known that most problems with wood are caused by moisture.


We tacked a strip of flooring to the front rim joist, to act as a stop block for the floor planks.


This is the pneumatic finish nailer we used to fasten the flooring.

I used this tool because I could not find an ordinary flooring nailer or staplers that used any sort of galvanized fastener. I took a risk with this tool, as 2 inch finish nails do not have as much holding power as other flooring fasteners. But after 18 months in use, none of the planks have come loose.

To start the floor installation, I nailed the first piece against the short wall, making sure it was perfectly square with the front edge of the porch. I had to drive nails into the face of the first board because there was no way to hold it down on the grooved side.

I painted each tongue with oil-based primer before installing the next plank.


I  used a small pry bar to force the planks against the stop block that I nailed to the front edge of the porch.


I used a scrap of flooring and a hammer to tap the board tightly against the previous plank.


The first nailing technique I tried was like this.

But it didn't work that well, many nail heads stuck up a bit.


As this photo shows, this approach keeps the nail gun above the surface, which is not good.


It may be hard to see, but this nail is typical of the problem I had with my first approach. The nail head would stick up about 1/8 inch, and had to be driven in with a hammer and nail set.


I ended up holding the nail gun like this, which was a more awkward position since I was standing on the ground in front of the advancing flooring. I didn't want to sit, stand or kneel on the newly installed flooring, as I would get paint everywhere. Nailing T&G porch flooring with a finish nail gun.

All the flooring nailers and staplers I have seen employ a position like this.

Hand-nailing can be done by driving ring-shank siding nails (hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel) at an angle through the tongue. Pre-drilling the holes might be helpful, and near the ends of the boards pre-drilling might be necessary to prevent the wood from splitting.

Many planks were quite banana-shaped (Southern Yellow Pine has a nasty tendency to warp). To make the wood comply, I used a Quick-Grip clamp at each end, acting like a spreader, to push the board against the previous plank.

It is surprising how compliant wood can be. If you can force the board into place with clamps or a pry bar, and then drive in enough nails in the right direction, the wood will probably stay put. 


Working around obstructions like this newel post can be tricky.


I cut a notch out of this piece and laid it on top, to check for fit.


I had to slip the plank in on an angle, but it went in just fine.


The notched plank ended up with a good tight fit. I later caulked the gap between the planks and the newel post.


As I worked I painted the deck with oil-based primer.


Some boards required a lot of clamps to counteract their warp.


At this point I realized that my stop-block/strip was too high. The Quick-Grip clamps couldn't reach over the stop strip, so I had to use small blocks of wood to extend their reach.


The Final Piece Of Flooring:

I saw that the last piece of flooring would be narrower than the others and not have enough support beneath it because it would hang over the edge so far.

So I applied a bead of exterior wood glue to the tongue on the second-last piece...


... and clamped the narrow final strip to the second-last piece. But, the final piece was mitered to form a tight corner joint with a long strip that will cover the ends of all the floor boards.


I had to leave the final strip a few inches shy of the other end, so it would fit around the existing trim on the house.


The red arrow points to the narrow final strip. The ends matches up with a mitered end of the front cover strip, which hides the end grain of all the floor boards.

At this point the porch corner post was dangling from above. The roof was supported by a pair of 2x6's.

Once this front piece was installed, we were able to lower the roof so the post rested on the floor deck once again. We then fastened the post with 3" deck screws.

This photo shows the front cover strip as it was being installed. The flat piece was attached to the vertical piece using biscuits and glue, although nails or small screws may also work. This assembly was attached to the porch framing with deck screws.

Since I did not have flooring long enough for the 13 foot front face, I made this cover strip in sections, and used a bevel cut to overlap the joints.

After all the flooring was installed, I gave all the bare wood a coating of oil-based primer. When that was dry I painted the porch floor with latex exterior porch-and-floor paint. 

Continue to Building Steps



Tools Used:

  • Pneumatic Finish Nailer
  • Quick-Grip Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Small Pry Bar
  • Painting Tools

Materials Used:

  • 1x4 Tongue and Groove Porch Decking (Pressure-Treated Recommended)
  • Ring-Shank Siding Nails
  • Oil-Based Primer
  • Wood Preservative

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Copyright 2001, 2005

Written April 5, 2001
Revised January 5, 2005