Solid Timber Flooring Installation Guide

How to install tongue and groove solid timber flooring

Timber Flooring

1. First, make sure your subfloor and underlay is properly prepared.


2. Decide which way you’re going to lay your boards. Laying your boards towards a light source makes the joints less visible. Laying the boards across the width of the room will make the room feel wider, and laying the boards across the length of the room will make the room feel longer.

3. If you’re laying your new floor across an existing wood subfloor, you’re going to need to lay the boards across the old floor for a more solid and stable result.

4. Set out the floorboards. Setting out means roughly laying out the floorboards to how they’ll be arranged, and to plan for obstacles like pipes. To start, set out the very first row to check you won’t be left with a very short length at the end. If you are, just trim the very first board.

5. Check that the last row of boards won’t be too narrow. You don’t want a tiny slither of board at the end of the room, as it will look untidy and be hard to cut. You can work this out with a simple sum. Don’t forget the expansion gap of 15mm if its solid wood floor you’re laying. If you divide the length of your room by the width of your board, it will tell you not only how many boards you’ll need, but the leftover width of the final board you’ll have to cut. If the last row turns out to be less than a third of the board, it will be easier to cut the very first row down as well so that the cut boards are not too narrow. Finally, you should also think about obstacles like radiator pipes. Cutting the boards will be easier and tidier if the pipes fall in the middle of a boards length or width, rather than a join. So set out the boards, see where the pipes fall, and trim accordingly.

6. Expansion gaps are needed as solid wood flooring can expand due to the changes in temperature and humidity. To stop your floor buckling, you must leave a 15 mm gap for wood. To make it easier, we recommend you use expansion spaces.

7. A great design idea is mixing up the boards of your different packages of timber to create a random effect with different grains.

8. If you have knee pads, now is a good time to put them on as you’ll be kneeling down a lot. First, lay down the underlay. Run it at a 90 degree angle to the floorboards to help make them stable. Cut the underlay with scissors to fill the room. If using self adhesive underlay, peel off a small piece of plastic from the top of the underlay. This should be just less than the width of a single board. Now take the spare piece of plastic, or membrane which comes with the underlay, fold it into a stick it to the newly revealed sticky bit of underlay, making sure that the free ends of the plastic face you. This membrane goes between the underlay and the floorboard, preventing the board getting stuck before it is in the correct position.

9. Place the board in with the groove facing the wall. Put a 15mm spacer at the end of the board at intervals along it. When you’re sure it is carefully positioned, pull out the membrane, holding the board in place as you go. Then repeat this process along the first row. Carry on doing this until the end of the row. You’ll probably have to cut a board to fit the last row. To work out exactly the correct size for the last board of the row, lay it directly on top of the last board you laid, then take a third board and use it as a template. Place it tight up against the wall, and using the expansion spacer in place, use the other end of the board as a template and mark the board you’re going to cut with a pencil. When you’re cutting your board, its always best to do it outside or in another room, so you don’t get any dust or debris on your subfloor or underlay. Also, always remember to keep a door or window open, to allow ventilation.
10. First, clamp your board to a workbench, then cut the board. You can use either a jigsaw, or a fine toothed handsaw. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask and safety goggles. Now its just a matter of sticking your first cut board into position, and thats your first row done.

11. To create a tidy floorspace, make sure the joints of the next row are not in the same position as the first, but instead use an overlaying pattern. Cut a board or use an off cut from the previous row. Repeat this pattern across the whole floor. Doing this will also make your new floor stronger.

12. To start the next row, angle the cut board against the first board, with the cut in by the wall. Then add your expansion spacer. Press forward and down to lock it in to place. Then just repeat this along the whole row.

13. If you find a radiator pipe, lay your board next to the pipe, and at the centre of the pipe draw a line across the width of the board. Now lay the end front on to the pipe, and mark where the centre of the pipe intersects the line you’ve drawn. This is where you’ll need to drill your hole. Use a power drill with a 32mm spade bit. This will give you a big enough hole to allow for expansion, as a standard spade bit is only 15mm. Drill it in another room or outside, and don’t forget to wear a dust mask and goggles. Next, draw two lines from the hole to the edge of the board at a slight angle. Cut along the lines with your saw, and remove the edge, but make sure you keep it. Fit the board into place, glue the wedge in, and wipe off any excess adhesive immediately.

14. The next obstacle you may come across is a door frame. If your door opens into the room, you need to check that you have enough clearance over the new flooring and threshold bar. If not, you’ll need to remove the door and trim it down. Top tip – don’t try and cut the flooring to fit. You’ll get a neater finish if you trim the architrave, so the underlay and flooring fit underneath. Just use a chisel to remove the waste piece of wood.

15. Now for the last row. To cut boards to fit this row, place the board you want to cut directly over the previous row. You can hold it in place with some tack. Use a third board as a template. Press one edge of the template to the skirting board and use the other edge to mark the board underneath. Do this in the actual place your boards will go, just in case your walls are slightly out. Once you’ve cut the whole row, slot them into place.

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