It’s more than possible to lay your own wooden floor if you feel you’re up to the task. Not everyone is, or has the time, but if you do fancy the challenge, you’ll need some tips before you start.
You need to decide if you’ll be taking off the skirting boards first. Many people do this so that the uneven edges that naturally occur with wooden floors are hidden. Some aren’t able to, in which case you’ll see that they’ve also installed some new floor beading to cover the gap between floor and skirting board.
Let your boards acclimatise
Your boards have been in a cold warehouse so they’ll need time to expand to their room temperature size. You may need to take them out of their packaging as well – ask your supplier how long you should leave them.
You need a solid subfloor
Solid timber floors must be fixed to the floor rather than laid down using the “floating” method. Solid wood boards tend to move more than engineered boards so being fixed to the subfloor, be it concrete, joists or an older wooden floor, prevents problems.
If you’re laying over concrete
You should make sure the substrate is level and sound. If there are any significant irregularities, then you can screw in a chipboard subbase on it, before gluing or nailing the wooden floor onto it.
If your concrete base is smooth enough, then you can glue the floor
directly onto it.
If you’re laying onto existing timber
Then nails are your best bet. It’s a good idea to lay the new boards at 90 degrees to the old ones if you can. You don’t usually need underlay, but it’s always a good idea to take advice as there is suitable underlay available if you do need it.
How to do it
Most solid wood flooring has a tongue-and- groove fitting system and you can either glue or secret-nail it into place. It should take between two and three days to lay wooden flooring.
The step-by- step guide
Let your boards acclimatise while you decide which direction they’re going to run in. If you’re fixing them to joists, they’ll have to run at 90 degrees to them.
Remove inward-opening doors and remove skirting boards if you’ve decided to do this.
Clean the subfloor, cut your underlay and fit it.
Place your plastic spacers along the longest, straightest wall to create the expansion gap.
Fix your first row – if your boards have tongue-and- groove fittings, make sure the groove faces the wall. Start at the corner and remember that the expansion gap will need to run around all the room edges.
Start your second row with the length of board you cut off from the end of the previous row. You need to stagger the end boards of adjacent rows by 30cm. There are fitting tools you can use to push the board ends together. Repeat this along the width of the room, tightening each joint with an edge block.
When you encounter pipes, mark the pipe’s position on the board that’ll be laid round it. Then installed some new floor beading 5mm larger than the pipe. You then need to make two saw-cuts from the board edge to the sides of the hole; fit the board around the pipe and glue the off-cut into place.
With the final row, you may have to cut the boards lengthways. Measure the gaps between the boards, allow 15mm for the expansion gap and saw the boards to size.
Then you can refit your skirting or lay down your beading.