How to Lay Wood Flooring – Top Tips for Perfect Flooring

September 10, 2020

You’ve calculated the cost of wood flooring, and you’ve ruled out replacing floorboards. Now, you’re all set to learn how to lay a wood floor. Well, guess what, you are in the right place! This article contains all of the top tips you need to know how to lay wood flooring correctly.

While the thought of learning how to lay a wood floor might seem daunting at first, with patience and planning it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Through each of the following steps, remember to stay focused and take your time. Rushing through the process will only cause more stress and could even lead to costly mistakes.

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Pick The Type of Wood Flooring

Pick the Type of Wood

Before you can go ahead and install a wood floor, you will need some floorboards to install. So, you will have to decide on which type of wood you want to use for your flooring.

There are quite a few different options to choose from for wood flooring. This abundance of options means that you are sure to find something in your favourite style. Plus all of the types of flooring listed below are relatively durable and easy to maintain.

Some of the most popular wood for floors includes:

  • Cherry
  • Pine
  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Walnut

Depending on which wood you choose you could end up with light and airy flooring or rich deep hues, the choice is yours!

Secure The Subfloor

Secure the Subfloor

Now that you know which type of wood you would like to lay, it is time to begin the preparation. The first step is to find out what type of subfloor you have.

The subfloor is the layer which lies beneath your flooring. A solid subfloor will provide your flooring with the necessary support it needs to withstand wear and tear from daily use over time.

There are two main types of subfloors. These are plywood and moisture-proofed concrete. If these have been properly installed, it shouldn’t matter which type is in your home. Both can provide a strong, durable base.

Has your subfloor worn down over time? Is it uneven in some areas? Then you will need to update or replace it before you can continue. A faulty subfloor could cause substantial problems down the line if you don’t repair it.

As soon as your subfloor is in top shape you are all set to move on to the next step.

Remove Any Obstacles

Before you can lay your floorboards down you will first need to remove any obstacles in the way of the floorboards. This means removing the base moulding or trim around the perimeter of the room as well as any doors.

To remove the trim, cut through any dried paint that covers the edge between the trim and the wall. Then using a putty knife as leverage pry the board away from the wall. If possible, pry close to the nails, doing this will help you to avoid damaging the trim.

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Let The Wood Settle

Let the Wood Settle

Taking the time to let the wood settle is an essential step that you shouldn’t skip over. As eager as you are to get this project underway, wood is highly temperamental. Both moisture and temperature levels easily affect it.

Even when you purchase the wood locally, the temperature in the store or warehouse is likely to differ from the temperature in your home. As the wood adjusts to the change in temperature and moisture levels in your home, it will either expand or contract. For this reason, you should lay it out for several days ahead of time. By allowing the wood to acclimatise properly you will avoid the possibility of the wood expanding or contracting after it is secured, which could cause irreparable damage to the floor.

During the renovation when you lay the flooring you will also need to maintain a stable temperature in your home. You can’t go cranking your air conditioning or heating to abnormally high levels during the renovation. Just as the wood is sensitive to temperature changes between the warehouse and your home, so too will it be sensitive to drastic changes within your home.

To avoid disappointment, it is much easier to patiently allow the wood to acclimatise and then maintain a stable temperature during the installation process.

Dry Lay The Flooring

Dry Lay the Flooring

Similar to dry laying tiles, dry laying your flooring refers to the process of locating the best positions for the floorboards. The main difference between dry laying a tile floor and dry laying a wood floor is that with a tile floor this step precedes applying adhesive. Then in a wood floor, this step precedes nailing the floorboards to the subfloor.

To complete this step, all you need to do is lay the first boards where you would like them to ultimately land. That way you can ensure placement is correct before you permanently fasten the floorboards.

It is a good idea during this step to mark where the joists that lie beneath the floor are located. Make markings on the wall with a pencil and then lay the floorboards perpendicular to these. While it is not essential to lay them perpendicular to the joists, it is generally the best practice.

Lay Your First Floorboard

Lay Your First Floorboard

Now that you know your floorboards are in the correct placement, you can finally lay your first board. This board – and the rest of the floor should be laid on top of a vapour barrier sheet. This barrier sheet is similar to paper and will help decrease noise between the levels in your home. Staple this to the subflooring to secure it into place.

Then, you can lay your first floorboard on top of your vapour barrier sheet. You should place this floorboard beside the longest straight wall. In houses, this usually lies along an exterior wall.

Your first board should also rest about 1 cm away from the wall. If your floorboards do expand slightly, this space will keep your flooring in top shape.

Next, draw a line down the middle of the floor with chalk. This line should be parallel to your first floorboard and the wall. As you progress towards the middle of the room, this line will act as a guide to keep the flooring parallel.

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Fasten the Floorboards

When the wood has properly acclimatised you can next set about securing the boards to the subflooring. There are two main ways to go about this. These techniques are outlined below.

Fasten The Floorboards

Blind Nailing

To blind nail your flooring, you will need to drive a nail into the tongue of the wooden floor board. This nail should be driven in at an angle. By driving it in at an angle you will effectively conceal the head of the nail.

The easiest way to accomplish this project is with a flooring nailer. Flooring nailers are specially designed to make the process of blind nailing floorboards simple and straightforward. When using a flooring nailer instead of hammering away for ages, you will simply need to strike the end of the tool with one steady blow from your hammer. This will effectively drive your nail into the board’s tongue without any struggle.

Face Nailing

Aside from blind nailing, face nailing is the other main way to tackle the process of fastening your floor. In contrast to blind nailing which completely hides the nails, if you use the process of face nailing, you will still be able to see the heads of the nails.

Like blind nailing, the process of face nailing is fairly straightforward. First, you will need to pre-drill a hole in the board. Then, you can hammer in a finishing nail until the nail’s head rests slightly above the floor’s surface. Next, strike your hammer once on your nail set (this is a tool used to set the nail into the floorboard). Fill up any space above the nail with a wood putty so that the floor is completely even.

Bidvine tip: If you want to avoid using a hammer and nail set to face nail your floorboards, opt for a power nailer instead. When using a power nailer you just need to position it above the nail, and then when you pull the trigger it will sink the nail into the floorboard. This will drastically simplify the process of face nailing your boards

From here, simply carry on and repeat this process until the entirety of the floor has been laid down and fastened.

Add The Finishing Touches

Add the Finishing Touches

Laying your last few floorboards can be tricky so it is important to pay attention and take your time with this step.

At this point in the process, you may need to cut down some of your boards so that they fit comfortably against the wall. The easiest way to trim these boards is with a table saw. Learn more about which model may be the right choice for you before spending a significant amount of money.

When you measure the board for cutting remember to remove an extra centimetre from the length of the board that will rest next to the wall. Just like laying the first floorboard, when you lay the last board you need to leave a small gap next to the wall. This gap will allow your floor breathing room for natural expansion due to moisture and temperature levels.

To ensure that the last board snugly aligns with the others, it is helpful to use a prybar placed next to the wall for leverage. You may want to add a thin strip of wood between the wall and the prybar to prevent yourself from damaging the wall during this step.

Once you’ve pushed the board into place you are almost finished! As soon as it is fastened to the others with blind and, or face nailing, your floor will be all set. Now, just sit back, relax and enjoy your new flooring!

Further Reading

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