How to lay a wood floor

Before you undertake a job like this, you have to make sure that you have all equipment and materials you need, enough time to complete the task and the necessary skills and knowledge.

In order to lay a wooden floor by yourself you will need timber board packs, adhesive, underlay, drill and wood bit, hand saw or mitre saw, tape measure, spacer blocks, fitting tool, edge block, mallet (hammer), try square, craft knife.

In terms of duration, the amount of time you will need depends on the size of the floors which will be fitted and your experience. An average size room will normally take a couple of days. If you are a skilled person, you may need less time.

Here is the process of installing a wooden floor described in 10 steps:

1. Prepare/Acclimate The Boards and Plan The Layout

Boards look best laid in the same direction as the longest straight wall or in the direction of incoming light in in a square room. Flooring should sit in the room for at least 48 hours prior to installation, giving it time to expand or contract in relation to the room’s temperature and humidity. This prevents buckling and other problems after installation.

2. Remove The Old Flooring (if any)

Remove any damaged flooring to reveal the subfloor.

3. Remove The Skirting Boards

Take off all skirting boards using a pry bar. Use a crowbar to lever away the old skirting. Place a wooden block behind the bar so that it doesn’t damage the plasterwork.

4. Prepare The Subfloor And Fit The Underlay

Vacuum the floor and clear it of staples, nails, and other debris. Roll out and fit the underlay using a utility/craft knife to cut pieces and try not to overlap the adjoining strips.

5. Set The Spacers

Place plastic space chips between the longest straight wall and the boards to maintain an expansion gap (1 inch) around the entire edge of the floor so that it can expand as the humidity in the room changes. Remember to take out all the spacers once the floor is laid.

6. Cut And Lay The First Row

You may need to cut the first row of boards lengthwise in accordance to the layout. Lay the first row of boards with the groove/tongue facing the wall, starting from a corner. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the best fixing method. Join one board to another by connecting the tongues and grooves. You may be able to snugly connect the boards by hand, or you may need to use a pull bar from the installation kit and a hammer to pull them together or a tapping block to tap the joints together. Cut the last board to finish the row to length leaving an expansion gap and save the scrap.

7. Lay Additional Rows

Start the second row using the off-cut of the board used at the end of the first row. Always stagger the end joints of adjacent rows by at least 12 inches. Use the fitting tool to push the ends of the boards together and tighten each joint by tapping the edge block against the grooved side of each board.

8. Working Around Pipes and Door Casings

Mark the position of any pipes on the board and drill a hole about slightly larger in diameter than the pipe. Make two angled saw cuts from the edge of the board to the sides of the drilled hole. Fit the board and carefully glue the small off-cut wedge behind the pipe. It is better not to try to cut boards to fit around door casings. Instead, use the jamb saw to cut the door casing about 1/16 inch above the height of the flooring, giving the boards room to slide under the casing.

9. Lay Last Row

Slide the boards into position at an angle, then gently pry them into place with the pry bar making sure you leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap between the final row and the wall.

10. Refit The Skirting Boards

After the floorboards are in place, refit the skirting boards. Then install shoe moulding over the expansion joints and use transition strips to connect the laminate to adjoining surfaces, such as tile or carpet.

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