How to Lay Wood Flooring

In this article we look at how to lay wood flooring in six steps that you can follow yourself. If you’ve followed my other article on how to lay laminate flooring, then many of the steps are very similar, but there are a few differences when it comes to laying a hardwood floor. If you’re nervous about how to lay wood flooring and about your level of DIY skills in general, don’t be afraid to ask a more experienced friend if they can help out. Technological advancements with in hardwood flooring have meant that the products are both higher quality, and easier to fit as well.

Before we get started with our how to lay wood flooring guide, you’ll need to ensure your wood flooring has been left in the room you plan to install it in for at least 48 hours before you start the process of laying. This is an important step since the boards themselves are composed from a natural material, they must be allowed to acclimatise to the new room temperature and moisture levels they will be exposed to. As the boards adjust to the new environment, they will expand or contract accordingly. You also need to make sure that you clean your sub-floor thoroughly to remove any dirt and small particles that may cause problem when you come to lay the wood flooring.

Let’s make a start and begin our guide to how to lay wood flooring:

Step 1 – tools for the job

  • a panel saw or electric saw (e.g. circular saw)
  • tile spacers
  • safety glasses
  • a hammer
  • a pencil
  • set square
  • knee pads
  • masking tape
  • a sharp craft knife
  • tapping block
  • a pulling bar
  • self-adhesive underlay

Step 2 – how to measure for your wood floor

To calculate the amount of wood flooring you’ll need for your project, you will have to measure you space to calculate the total area squared that needs to be covered. Wood flooring comes in various pack sizes depending on the variety you buy, and these packs tell you both the board dimensions, and the overall coverage achievable per pack. In order to calculate how many packs of wood flooring necessary for your project, first measure the width of your room and the length. Multiply these numbers by each other to give you your total area size. Awkward rooms can sometimes be difficult to measure, but the best way to try and overcome this it to try and divide up your area into smaller spaces that you can be square off, and then add the individual area sizes of these squares together. To calculate how many packs of wood flooring you’ll need, take your total area size (this needs to be in the same units as the ones used on the wood flooring packaging), and divide this number by the total area covered on one packet of wood boards.

It’s highly advisable to acquire at least ten percent extra boards than what you calculated you will need for your project. This is to avoid running out of boards in the middle of your projects in case of mistakes or bad measurements.

Step 3 – marking out your wood floor

Unlike when you lay a tiled floor, there is no need to mark out the position of each wood board that you lay. However, it is recommended that you lay a trial row before you begin installing the self-adhesive underlay. This is to help to determine the direction and position you will begin laying the flooring, and also to help calculate how much of the end-of-row boards you will need to cut when you come to it. A good tip is to start laying your wood flooring in the lightest part of the room. You should try to avoid a layout that will result in you having to cut more than 50% away from the depth of your end-of-row boards, or less than 400mm off from the width of your boards.

Step 4 – laying self-adhesive underlay

We will be installing a ‘floating floor’ through the methods used in this tutorial. This means that technically the new wood flooring is not directly fixed to the old sub-floor. This is a very common, efficient, and perfectly effective way to install wood flooring. With this in mind, begin laying your underlay with the shiny-side up. This is because the shiny side is the one that features adhesive. Ensure you have your spacers in place, and you are laying the rolls at a 90 degree angle to the way you will lay your laminate boards; this is to prevent the seams between the pieces of underlay ever corresponding to the joins between the piece of wood flooring. As you lay the underlay, make sure there is no gap or overlap between the sections as either of these might cause the wood boards to sink or stand proud. The goal here is a nice consistent surface. Tape down the joins between the sections with a bit of masking tape to hold them in place.

Step 5 – laying wood flooring

Using the layout you established previously, start by removing a section of the protective film on the underlay by about the half the width of a wood board. Then gently lay your first board in place (making sure your spacers are still in place). If you’re happy with the position of the first board, peel back more of the protective film to expose the board to the adhesive completely. In the same way you can continue throughout the room, gradually peeling the adhesive film back as you go.

Most wood flooring features a tongue and groove fitting profile. These boards should fit together easily and, and can be joined together by introducing the new board at a 45 degree angle to the previous one, then slotting it in place as you lower it. You can use your beating block or pulling bar to further encourage the boards in place if necessary.

End-of-row boards can be cut using the saw you have available, and by marking the board where the cut needs to be made. Take care to cut the board the right way up as different saws may cause damage to either the top side or underside of the wood. Remember to use your safety glasses as you do this.

Step 6 – applying the finishing touches

It’s recommended that you wait at least 48 hours before applying any finishing touches to your flooring such as trims or scotias. This will allow the floor to settle in further.

Use a mitre box to help with cutting your trims and scotias at an angle. Transition bars can also be used where your new floor meets with a doorway or a different floor surface.

Congratulations! You now know how to lay wood flooring!