If you’ve ever spent time in the mountains, you know that once you’re among the tall pines, spruces, redwoods, or whatever trees the area offers, the air seems to change for the better. Everything smells clean and fresh. 

While you can’t bring the whole forest into your home, you can use select woods on your floors to capture the freshness of the outdoors. If you’re looking to make a change to your floors but aren’t sure what wood flooring types are right for you, cedar is a great first choice.

Cedar is an especially aromatic wood that has other practical benefits too. Moths hate cedar, making the material an excellent choice for hope chests and closet flooring. In fact, you could line not only the floor of your closet with cedar but the walls and ceiling as well. A cedar closet floor alone can do a lot to protect your clothes from moths as well as bring in the fragrance of a forest.

At Today’s Homeowner, we’re dedicated to giving you all the tips you need to do your own home repairs and remodeling. If you’re ready to take the plunge and install a cedar closet floor, read on for all our best advice.

Getting Started

Installing a cedar closet floor is really simple — especially if you rent or own a pneumatic wire brad nailer. However, before you do any nailing, you need to get the right materials for the flooring job. Purchasing high-quality, premium cedar flooring material makes installation much easier and faster. The premium boards will be straighter and flatter. They’ll also have fewer knots or irregularities requiring cuts leading to waste.

Make sure the existing floor surface is completely clean and free of debris, nails, or lumps. The cedar boards will show any imperfections underneath, so take the time to prep the subsurface appropriately. You can use felt paper, found at any hardware store, to provide a barrier between the wood and subsurface.

When it comes time to install, there are two nailing options: hidden or top nailing. In general, we recommend top nailing with a brad nailer for the easiest installation. However, if you don’t have a brad nailer or you want your nails to be invisible from the top, hidden nailing is a great option. If you want to install with hidden nailing, place your nails on the tongue of each board at an inward angle, hiding them when the next board is laid over it.

You can also install your wood floors using wood glue. 

Today’s Homeowner Tips

There are different benefits to each option for installing your cedar floor, but if you’re trying to decide between gluing or nailing, we recommend nailing. It’s better in the long run and can give you a more secure installation.

Step-By-Step Installation

Here’s a more detailed walkthrough of the installation process:

  1. Use a chalk line (a tool used to snap straight lines) to mark layout lines across the center of the closet space. This will guide your starter row placement.
  2. Position your first starter board centered on the line with the tongue side facing the wall. Nail into place.
  3. Add the next board by engaging the tongue and groove. Nail through the surface at seven-inch intervals.
  4. Continue adding boards across the row. Use spacers to maintain a ¼- to ½-inch gap between the edge and walls. This allows plenty of expansion space.
  5. Begin the next row with pieces cut to staggered lengths. Engage the tongue and groove and nail into place.
  6. Work outward from the starter rows until the entire space is covered. Remember to maintain the perimeter gaps.
  7. Install trim pieces with nails or adhesive to cover the gaps. A baseboard that’s already in place can work for this.
  8. Avoid dragging tools or heavy objects across the finished floor to prevent scratches.
  9. Let the cedar boards acclimate for one or two weeks before storing items or walking on the floor.

Benefits of Cedar Closet Flooring

Cedar closet floors provide many benefits, including:

Beautiful aroma and appearance — cedar has a rich reddish brown color.
Natural moth and insect repellent. No extra chemicals are needed.
Quick and easy installation with basic tools compared to most hardwoods.
Forgiving of imperfections thanks to natural color variations that hide mistakes.
Thinner and lighter than hardwood, making the material easier to handle.
Improved airflow and ventilation from gaps between boards, preventing mold.
Added value and appeal to your home. Cedar-lined closets are luxurious features.

Maintenance Tips

To maintain your cedar closet floor:

  • Sweep regularly to prevent dirt from scratching soft cedar.
  • Immediately clean spills and allow to fully dry.
  • Consider protective pads under furniture legs/heels to prevent dents.
  • Re-stain regularly to refresh color.
  • Periodically refinish or sand to remove deeper scratches/discoloration. If you have a dog in the home, their nails can make deep scratches in your wood flooring — especially in soft woods like cedar. You can fix scratches on cedar floors using techniques like those used to fix dog scratches on hardwood floors.
  • Monitor humidity and use dehumidifiers to keep levels below 50%. High humidity causes wood damage, so be sure to keep an eye on your humidity levels.

So, Is Installing a Cedar Closet Floor Worth It?

A cedar floor can provide beauty, luxury, and insect protection to your home if properly installed and cared for. Many homeowners love the natural reddish brown tones and fresh cedar scent enough to upgrade from basic closet floors. Cedar floors can also add significant value to a room, so if you’re thinking about selling your home, it can be a great benefit. 

However, even good-quality cedar is prone to scratches and moisture damage without proper maintenance. It can also be expensive when compared to other cheap flooring upgrades. Consider the total project costs when factoring in the pros and cons. Despite any potential drawbacks, cedar-lined closets are sure to impress and offer many benefits. The pros outweigh the cons, so if you have the time and money, installing a cedar closet floor is most definitely worth it.

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FAQs About Cedar Closet Floors

Does cedar flooring need finishing?

Most cedar flooring comes pre-finished, but you can add polyurethane for extra protection. Before you coat the whole floor, be sure to always test stains and finishes on a small piece of scrap wood first.

Can you install cedar flooring over concrete?

Yes, you can install on top of concrete if the concrete is level, clean, and dry. However, your installation will be different than installing over a wood floor. Float over concrete rather than gluing or nailing.

How thick should boards be?

Standard ⅜-inch or ½-inch boards are durable and lightweight. Thicker boards cost more, but can add even more durability. In general, anything above ⅜ of an inch is a good starting point.

Does cedar add home value?

Yes, like most hardwoods, cedar is a premium feature that plenty of buyers want. The aroma and aesthetic that cedar brings to a home can increase buyer appeal.

How long does cedar deter bugs?

Cedar can naturally prevent bugs for up to 10 years. Restaining helps extend this time.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Mitchell Layton

Mitchell Layton

Mitchell Layton is a former professional mover who currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell spent years packing and moving for REAL Rock N Roll Movers, a commercial and residential moving company based in Los Angeles that’s primarily staffed with up-and-coming musicians. That gave him plenty of experience navigating box trucks up and down the winding streets of LA. In addition to moving hundreds of happy customers into new homes and apartments all across Southern California, Mitchell has also performed corporate moves on company lots for Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount, and more. After pouring blood, sweat, and tears into his profession, Mitchell has all the helpful tips you need for your next move.

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photo of Lee Ann Merrill

Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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