How To Fit Solid Wood Flooring

How To Fit Solid Wood Flooring

Planning:-

When first presented with a room or area which is to be fitted with Solid wood flooring some key factors will help you to decide where to start your installation. Door ways, shape of room and locations of main window are all factors to take into consideration as well as the subfloor (existing floor which is to be covered with Solid wood floor) here are some rules and suggestions:-

Rules –

When laying Solid wood flooring on top of existing floor boards always lay the planks at 90 degrees to the floor boards

It is important not to end up with a piece of flooring at the end of a row which is less than 5cm in length or to have the last row less than 5cm in width. To avoid this measure the room’s width and length and divide the results by the dimensions of the flooring being installed. It may then be necessary to start the first row with a half plank or even to cut the width down to accommodate the area

An expansion joint will need to be inserted into any floor area which is larger than 8m in length or in width, in effect creating two floor areas

Acclimatise the boards in the room they are to be laid in for a minimum of 48 hours. The room should have a relative humidity of between 45% — 65% and a temperature of between 18C – 20C

Suggestions –

It is generally accepted that the best visual effect when installing Solid wood flooring is to lay the boards in the direction of the light source; so towards the main window (not forgetting rule 1 above)

It is also suggested that the floor should run along the longest wall of the room giving the best overall effect. (again take note of rule 1 above)

When laying a floor across a door way it is best practise to start at this point and work back into the room

Installation guide:-

Once your planning stage is complete it is time to prepare the room starting with the subfloor. It is vital that the subfloor is in optimal condition to allow the new floor to perform as expected and help to maintain its longevity

Subfloor preparation –

The main factors to consider are the smoothness, dryness and overall levelness of the floor. If the subfloor is uneven then the new floor will not last long as the pressure on the joints will cause the boards to separate

For concrete floors make sure that they are dry (it takes approx. 1 day per 1mm of wet concrete to be considered dry enough for a Solid wood floor to be installed). The relative humidity of the floor is also vital it should not exceed 85%

For wooden subfloors, ensure there is no movement in the floor. Any loose floor boards should be nailed or screwed securely in place. WBP (water and boil proof) ply can be used over existing floorboards to provide a suitable subfloor surface

All floors must be smooth and level

Finally all debris must be cleaned and the surface of the subfloor must be free from dust and other contaminants

Installation Techniques:-

There are three main ways to install a Solid Wood floor,

Secret nailing

Gluing directly to the subfloor

Installing the Solid wood onto a self adhesive underlay

All of these methods are perfectly acceptable methods of installation for a domestic application, each method has its benefits and draw backs. It is often the subfloor which will help to determine which installation is best suitable.

Installing the floor planks – Secret nailing –

Secret nailing a wooden floor is a method usually chosen when the existing subfloor is wood or when installing directly to joists. Solid wood flooring should have a minimum thickness of 21mm if it is to be fitted directly to joists.

It is possible to use the secret nail technique when the subfloor is concrete or screed. A damp proof membrane (DPM) needs to be placed over the concrete followed by an 18 – 24mm WBP plywood sheet.

Start the first row by loose laying the boards parallel to the wall allowing a 15mm expansion gap. Begin by resting the fitting wedges up against the wall to give you a 15mm gap. This is vital as the Solid boards will expand and contract after installation and if this gap is not present the floor will lift and buckle in the room. The wedges are removed after installation is complete and the gap is covered with either skirting or beading

At the end of the first row you will undoubtedly need to cut a board to length. A good way to measure the length of the board required is to rotate the loose board by 180 degree (facing upwards) so that the tongue is facing the tongue of the previous row. Rest the board next to the first row then mark and cut the boards to size.

(NB. When cutting Solid flooring ensure that a new blade is used)

Once you are happy with the alignment, ‘face nail’ the boards into the subfloor at intervals of 250-300mm or onto every joist. Face nailing is nailing through the top of the planks into the subfloor, counter sink the nails and fill in the dimples with wood filler.

Depending on the tools used and the width of the flooring installed, it may be necessary to face nail two or three rows before secret nailing can begin.

Continue laying rows of planks down ensuring that you keep the 15mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. Stagger the boards so that the end joint of each row is further than 150mm apart (brick bond)

Keeping the nails at a distance of 250 – 300mm, secret nail the planks into the subfloor. Secret nailing is a method where planks are secured through the tongue of the boards at a 45 degree angle and counter sunk to allow the groove of the next board to fit tightly. Mechanical nail guns are the best way to achieve professional results and make installation a lot easier.

The final row can be measured and marked to size using the following technique; firstly place the board to be marked directly on top of the last row laid. Place another plank on top of the loose plank but this time have the top plank pushed up against 15mm wedges against the wall to give you the correct measurement allowing for expansion. (be careful not to move the board to be marked) now draw a line along the edge of the top plank marking the board underneath.

The last few rows will also have to be face nailed as there will not be enough room for secret nailing.

Installing the floor planks – Direct gluing –

Direct gluing is a suitable method of installation when fixing on top of a concrete or screed subfloor. One benefit is that the overall height of the new floor is kep to a minimum as there is no need to install an 18mm WBP plywood base. It is also suitable over existing wood floors which are suitably flat and firm.

The subfloor must be flat, firm and level; if necessary a levelling compound may be used. It is important to remember that all subfloors must be dry.

A liquid damp proof membrane must be laid first and allowed to dry.

Using a suitable wood flooring adhesive apply an even coat to the subfloor. A notched trowel held at between 450 and 900 is the best method for this.

Start the first row by laying the boards parallel to the wall allowing a 15mm expansion gap. Begin by resting the fitting wedges up against the wall to give you a 15mm gap. This is vital as the Solid boards will expand and contract after installation and if this gap is not present the floor will lift and buckle in the room. The wedges are removed after installation is complete and the gap is covered with either skirting or beading

At the end of the first row you will undoubtedly need to cut a board to length. A good way to measure the length of the board required is to rotate the loose board by 180 degree (facing upwards) so that the tongue is facing the tongue of the previous row. Rest the board next to the first row then mark and cut the boards to size.

(NB. When cutting Solid flooring ensure that a new blade is used)

After two rows have been successfully installed weigh them down while the glue sets. Any glue which has seeped through to the surface should be removed immediately.

Continue laying rows of planks down ensuring that you keep the 15mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. Stagger the boards so that the end joint of each row is further than 150mm apart (brick bond)

Tension straps may be used to hold rows tightly together whilst the glue sets.

The final row can be measured and marked to size using the following technique; firstly place the board to be marked directly on top of the last row laid. Place another plank on top of the loose plank but this time have the top plank pushed up against 15mm wedges against the wall to give you the correct measurement allowing for expansion. (be careful not to move the board to be marked) now draw a line along the edge of the top plank marking the board underneath.

Installing the floor planks – Self adhesive underlay –

Solid flooring can also be laid as a floating floor using a self adhesive underlay. The boards are adhered directly to the underlay which holds the floor together. This method can be used for all subfloor types (following the rules set out above that subfloors be flat, firm and dry) the benefits of the self adhesive underlay is that the room can be used immediately with no drying time required for glue to set.

Lay the underlay at 90 degrees to the direction of the boards ensuring that there are no gaps between sheets but equally important is that the underlay does not overlap. When using the underlay over concrete, first lay a DPM with the edges overlapped by 20cm.

Peel back the foil from the underlay by the width of 2 ½ planks and fold over.

Using the supplied spare foil, lay this over the exposed adhesive surface of the underlay with enough surplus foil facing the wall to fold back over the top of the underlay

Place the fitting wedges up against the wall to give you a 15mm gap. This is vital as the Solid boards will expand and contract after installation and if this gap is not present the floor will lift and buckle in the room. The wedges are removed after installation is complete and the gap is covered with either skirting or beading

Position the first row along the wall and wedges allowing for the expansion gap and ensure that this is perfectly straight. (if the first row is not perfectly straight the entire floor will be ruined) At the end of the first row you will undoubtedly need to cut a board to length. A good way to measure the length of the board required is to rotate the loose board by 180 degree (facing upwards) so that the tongue is facing the tongue of the previous row. Rest the board next to the first row then mark and cut the boards to size

(NB. When cutting Solid flooring ensure that a new blade is used)

Now lay a second row, this will help to stabilise the two rows whilst the foil is removed as well as help to provide a straight line

Once you are satisfied the rows are straight and tightly fitted, peel back the loose foil sheet which will expose the adhesive underlay to the solid wood flooring thus holding the boars in place.

The loose foil may now be discarded. The remaining attached foil will be your work area where new rows will be rested on until you are happy that they are tightly fitted.

Continue to fit the rows down and peel away the foil to fix the boards into place.

The final row can be measured and marked to size using the following technique; firstly place the board to be marked directly on top of the last row laid. Place another plank on top of the loose plank but this time have the top plank pushed up against 15mm wedges against the wall to give you the correct measurement allowing for expansion. (be careful not to move the board to be marked) now draw a line along the edge of the top plank marking the board underneath.

Obstacles –

There are various obstacles you will come across when installing any flooring. The trick is to identify these at the beginning and plan when to tackle them. You do not want to end up at an obstacle where you may need to remove some flooring you have already installed to enable you to deal with the situation.

Door frames are inevitable as almost all rooms will have these. It is necessary to remove a section of architrave and door jam to allow the Solid to be fitted under them, thus hiding the expansion gap away from sight. To do this you will need to place a piece of underlay and an upturned board against the door frame. Using a long saw pressed against the Solid floor begin to cut into the door frame. Make your cut until you reach the wall behind the door frame. Do not worry about cutting into the skirting as the beading will cover this. Remove as much of the door frame as possible so as to allow the right expansion room for the Engineered.

Measure and mark the Solid to fit and then install. When faced with a room where there are doors on both sides of a room and the Solid is installed across the door way it may be necessary to use glue to fit a board at one of these doors. As it is impossible to install the board at 30 degrees and still slide it under the architrave you will need to remove some of the locking joint on the previous row.

Remove the lip along the tongue of the long edge using a sharp chisel. Apply glue to this edge. Slide the board to be fitted under the door architrave and then pull it back into place along the previous row.

Radiator pipe covers can either protrude through the floor or from the wall. If they are floor mounted then the Solid will need to be cut around the pipes with an expansion gap. Measure and mark the position of the pipes on the Solid board and cut the holes out using a 32mm spade drill bit. This should allow for the 15mm pipe and an expansion gap. Then remove the excess Solid to allow the board to be placed against the pipes. The area of Solid removed should represent a keyhole shape. Keep the off cuts of the Solid as these can be glued back into place once the plank is installed.


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