Lay a Real Wood Floor
Once you have decided to install a hardwood floor and selected your wood of choice the wisest thing to do is to set aside some prep time. As with any DIY project, preparation is key and will save you time and effort later on. Hardwood floor sanding can be a challenging job if you’ve never tried it before, and proper preparation at the start of the job can mean the difference between a beautiful wood floor and a heartbreakingly spoiled job.
The preparation you need to carry out will vary slightly depending upon whether you have chosen finished, unfinished or distressed wood, parquet, solid or engineered flooring. Before purchasing the wood it is always a good idea to note the direction of the joists in the sub-floor. Professionally laid real wood flooring is always laid in the opposite direction of the joists.
The handy DIY-er
Be sure you have enough carpentry knowledge before attempting to lay your own floor. If you are unsure but would like to add floor laying to your repertoire of DIY skills then get a knowledgeable friend to be project leader while you watch, learn and labour (in that order!).
General rules of thumb
Steer clear of decorative middle pieces, diagonals and border edging if you are a wood floor rookie. Laying floors may not be rocket science but, like everything else worth doing, it takes skill and know-how to lay a floor that will look great and stand the test of time.
On your marks…
With all due considerations having been duly considered you are now ready to attack – sorry, lay – your hard wood floor. As we said before, preparation is paramount so although this may sound simple it is worth saying here that before a nail even goes anywhere near a floorboard, make sure any carpeting, complete with tacks, staples and nails has been completely removed. You may also wish to remove the vertical pieces of any door frames before starting too.
If your existing floor is concrete-based or if there are sizeable gaps in the original wood floor then you may have to lay a subfloor first. Gaps can easily occur when the boards have been covered under many years of carpet and underlay, and it is essential that you sort out these preliminaries before laying the new floor.
Assuming your subfloor is ready for the new hardwood what you need now is to lay red rosin paper (a sheathing paper especially for floors and roofing which works both as a guide and a protective barrier against draughts and moisture.
The rosin paper is stapled directly on to the subfloor and you can now mark base points on the paper before playing a game of join-the-carpentry-dots and connect the points together via a straight edge. Make the line about 9½ mm from the base, which allows for the expansion of the boards during warmer weather.
Begin laying your floor against the longest wall in the room by placing the end of the first board at the base mark you will already have drawn, and fix it in place with a hammer and one nail only. Once the initial board has been laid you can opt for a pneumatic staple gun instead of nailing every piece, with each board being fitted one to the other before being stapled to the subfloor. However, be careful with the gun and set it correctly so that the staples do not enter into the wood deeply enough to cause damage to the fibres.
Lay the next board end-to-end with the first one and use a mallet to gently tap the two pieces together without damage. Remember the boards must fit snugly together if the floor is to look good and give years of service. Carry on methodically and carefully
When the floor is almost completed the last piece of board will probably have to be cut to measure, so remember the old carpenter’s adage – measure twice, cut once! You can use a special carpentry crayon to accurately measure where you will make the cut and if you have use of a circular saw this will give a fine, professional finish to your floor.