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DIY Wood Flooring Installation Guide

17 Oct 2011 |    |    |    2 Comments

If you are reading this guide, the chances are that you have bought or are considering buying wood flooring online and to save even more, you are considering installing your new floor yourself. In order to decide which installation method to use (there are several), you need to consider the type of sub-floor you have. It is very important to choose the right floor and fitting method for your sub-floor.

There are three common categories of sub-flooring:

- Concrete or cement or screed
- Wooden: plywood or chipboard
- Floor joists or battens

You should note that vinyl floors, glued-down carpets, and certain other existing flooring types are not suitable as sub-flooring (especially for wood floors) and must be removed. Before installing any type of flooring, it is important that you get down to a solid, flat and dry sub-floor.

Here is our Wood and Beyond guide to sub-floors, flooring types and installation options:

Sub-floor

Flooring Type

Installation Method

Concrete

Solid

Nailed onto Battens, Glue-Down

Engineered

Floating, Glue-Down

Plywood, T&G

Solid

Nail-down, Glue-Down

Engineered

Floating, Glue-Down

Particle Board

Solid

Glue-Down

Engineered

Floating. Glue-Down

If you are installing a wooden floor over under floor heating, you should note that you can only use engineered wood flooring in this instance. Here is the recommended installation method:

Sub-floor

Flooring Type

Installation Method

Concrete

Engineered

Floating, Glue-Down

Plywood, T&G

Engineered

Floating, Glue-Down

Once you have identified your sub-floor and chosen you flooring type you are ready to start the installation.

Preparation:

Make sure the room is completely free of any obstacles, such as your old carpet or furnishings so you can concentrate on installing your flooring rather than moving things around. Ensure that the surface is clear of any dirt or debris, as well as traces of the old floor.

Floating Installation

Floating Installation is the easiest DIY installation method of wood flooring because it requires the least amount of skill or prior experience. As such this option is ideal for the newbie builder. This method involves using PVA glue to glue the tongue and groove together. An underlay is required with a floating installation to prevent contact between the floor and the sub-floor and to serve as a moisture barrier and insulation. Quality underlay will also deaden the sound of walking on the floor can make a huge difference to noise pollution. TOP TIP: If you’ve saved on the process so far by buying your hardwood floor online, do make sure to invest in high quality underlay. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the movement of a solid wood floor you should not use a floating installation.

Glue-down Installation

While this guide is likely to give you all the information you’ll need for a Glue-down installation, always read the information that came with the floor or contact the seller if you are unsure. Glue-down installation requires the use of a bonding agent or adhesive applied directly on to the sub-floor and can be applied to both concrete and wooden sub-floors. PLEASE NOTE: always read the health and safety guidelines when working with agents or chemicals. If you are laying over a concrete sub-floor you will first need to put down a two part epoxy damp proof membrane to ensure no damp rises up into your new floor. Glue-down installations can be very stable when done properly, although you should allow a good amount of time before you walk on your floors. The adhesives used in this process need to bond to the floor and can be quite messy especially if done by a less skilled installer.

Nail-down Installation

Nail-down installation is the most straightforward of all solid wood flooring installation methods, and is only advised if you have a wooden sub-floor and plenty of time to focus on the job. When installing over plywood the direction you choose to lay the planks does not matter. However, if you are going to nail down a new floor over existing floorboards you must face the planks of the new floor in the opposite direction to the existing floorboards, essentially making a crisscross pattern. Solid wood floors are thicker; hence they need to be nailed down in order to stay in place. It is a good idea to consider hiring a nailer for large surfaces otherwise this could end up very time consuming. Typically when nailing down an 18mm-22mm solid floor you will want to use 2” long nails. Generally, people regard nail-down installation as being very exacting and time-consuming. It requires you to use specific tools and equipment, which can make this a difficult DIY job. There is a certain amount of skill and level of knowledge required for this type of installation. TOP TIP: when carrying out a nail-down installation, consider using 2mm poly foam underlay as this helps to make sliding boards into place easier and it also reduces any potential squeaking noise your floor might make when walked on.

Image by flickr under cc license.

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2 Comments

  1. Janie Graham's Gravatar Janie Graham
    16/11/2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the information on floor installation! My mom and dad did their own wooden floors in our newest house, but they aren’t looking so fine right now. It seems that we might have to redo them.

  2. 30/11/2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    If you will be installing a flooring on your own always make sure that you know what you are going to do and that you have all the necessary materials needed. Follow all the safety precautions so that you can be able to protect yourself from possible injuries that might happen.

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