1. Acclimatization. When it comes to fitting solid wood flooring, the process should ideally start before the boards even touch the floor. Because wood responds to atmospheric changes by expanding and contracting, it’s a good idea to get your solid wood accustomed, or acclimatized to its new environment before you lay it.
2. In a natural setting, for example in a forest, humidity and temperatures change according to the season as well as the weather on any given day. With these changes, wood expands and contracts. This doesn’t pose any sort of problem in its natural setting. Once wood is brought into the home however, although it is protected from the vagaries of nature, it is then subjected to the fluctuations in temperature and moisture that we choose to throw at it throughout our day-to-day lives. It is essential therefore that the wood is allowed to acclimatise before installation. Acclimatising solid wood flooring before it is installed minimises the expansion and contraction of the wood, thus reducing the risk of damage. Acclimatization solid wood flooring can take up to two weeks.
3. Choosing the right fitting method. There are essentially 3 solid wood floor fitting methods from which, perhaps in conjunction with your flooring supplier or fitter, you need to make your selection:
A. Glue-down – Glue-down installation involves the use of a bonding agent or adhesive, which is applied directly on to the subfloor and can be applied to either concrete or wooden subfloors. If you are laying over a concrete subfloor you will first need to put down a two part epoxy damp proof membrane to ensure no damp rises up into your new floor. We recommend using Kerakoll EP21. A Glue-down solid wood flooring installation can be very stable when done properly, although you do need to allow a good amount of time before walking on your floor. The adhesives used in this process need to bond to the floor, and can be quite messy if done by a less skilled installer.
Another important consideration in choosing glue-down installation is your choice of adhesives as some are only suitable for flooring up to a certain width. To avoid warranty issues, we supply Kerakoll Silovil Flex, which allows you to install flooring with widths of up to 220mm.
B. Nail-down – Nail-down installation is the most straightforward of all solid wood floor installation methods but is only advised if you have a wooden subfloor. When installing over plywood, the direction you choose to lay the planks doesn’t 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 criss-cross pattern. This is done to ensure stability and avoid the risk of warping or buckling. Nail-down solid wood floors are also thicker; hence they need to be nailed down in order to stay in place.
C. Staple-down – Staple-down installation is very similar to nail-down, only using staples instead of nails to attach the floor to the subfloor. In many ways, staple-down installation is simpler and quicker than the nail-down method.
4. Be safe, not sorry. When it comes to fitting a new solid wood floor, it’s a great idea to plan for the unthinkable. Because matching up new floorboards with old can be a complete nightmare, it’s for this reason it’s a great idea to hold some extra boards “in stock”. If one day you have a problem with your floor and need to replace a board or two, it’s reassuring to know you have a small stock of replacements boards to hand. It makes real common sense therefore, to order a few boards too many so you can keep them somewhere safe incase one day you need them.
5. Making sure you don’t run out. This tip is particularly important if you’re doing your project on a DIY basis. There’s nothing worse than realising that you’re reaching the end of your room and your flooring is going to run out before you finish. It’s for this reason that measuring your room, and allowing a margin for wastage, is a really important part of the overall process. You can check out our How to Measure Your Room post.Google+