How to Lay a Hardwood Floor
Because real wood floors are incredibly robust as well as beautiful they are a welcome addition to any style of home or business premises. A real wood floor makes any room look bigger, less cluttered and cleaner. For these reasons and more real wood floors looks set to continue enjoying their current renaissance for decades to come.
I did that!
If you would like to try your hand at doing it yourself then please remember that to successfully renovate or lay a hardwood floor requires a good level of carpentry know-how. Give yourself time to complete the project. Don’t set unrealistic goals time-wise and always be willing to ask for, and take, advice from those in the know.
Assuming you have chosen the type of wood you want, have allowed it to ‘breathe’ for 24 hours and that it is tongue in groove, begin to lay the floor along the longest wall of the room. If your room is dead square then lay the planks in the direction of the window. If the room has doors that open into the room then it is a good idea to remove them before starting work. But remember the old carpenter’s rule – measure twice, cut once!
If the room has skirting boards you will have to take these off to get that truly professional finish. If you choose to leave them in place you can use moulding or beading around the edging to cover any gaps. Budget for new skirting when you are costing the wood as it is unlikely, unless you are a professional, that you will be able to reuse the old wood without a fight.
The next job is to vacuum thoroughly. When that’s done you can now fit the underfelt. This will be easy enough to hand trim with a Stanley knife. Use only underlay with a vapour barrier if your floor has a concrete base, otherwise the boards will become damp.
With the underlay securely in place park your spacers along the length of the longest wall. The spacers must maintain a gap to allow for expansion/ contraction due to heat, and anything between 10 – 15mm is the norm.
Start laying the boards from any corner adjoining the longest wall with the wood grain facing the wall. Depending upon which type of boards you have purchased, they will either be glued or nailed in place. Continue to lay the first line of boards and cut the final one to size and be sure to keep that expansion gap. You can use a try square to mark the correct angle before cutting by hand.
Begin the next row by using the remainder of the board left over from the first row. Alternate end pieces of bordering rows by approximately 30cm. Use a specialist fitting tool to link the board ends together and in this way work the room in lines being sure to tighten joins by gentle tapping.
The chances are that if the room has a radiator or gas fire then there will be pipe work to circumnavigate. The best way to do this is to mark the position of the pipe on the board and carefully drill a hole that is 5mm larger than the span of the pipe. Make two precisely angled saw cuts from the board edging to the hole and your board will slip neatly behind the pipe.
Now you can fit your new skirting or beading.
Depending upon the type of floor boards you have used, the next stage may be applying the topcoat of choice. If the boards come with a finish already applied then all you need do is lightly vacuum, carefully remove the spacers, and then step back admire your handiwork!