Laying Floorboards – Key Points to consider

When fixing floorboards down, consider the following advice:

Board Direction

Conventionally, and to show them off to their best advantage, wood flooring planks are laid towards the primary natural light source and along the length of the room. Consider this along with any subfloor restrictions, the shape of the room and individual preference before installation. 

Board Selection

When laying wood flooring that features significant variation, board selection has a significant influence on the overall look of the floor. It is important to distribute any variation evenly to get the best result and create a floor with a natural feel.

The best way to do this is to spread a good proportion of the boards out prior to installation so that you can decide on the way you want to distribute the variation to get the desired result, and the boards can be selected appropriately as they are fitted. 

First Line

The first row of flooring sets the line for the whole floor, so it is crucial that this is square. Before laying the floorboards, it may be necessary to cut the boards in the first row along the length to compensate for off-square walls. If glue-fixing your floorboards, make sure that the first row is stable (that the adhesive has gone off) before pushing against it.

End Joints

When laying plank flooring, the end joints in adjacent rows of planks must be staggered at least 150mm apart and we recommend a minimum of 250-300mm as this looks so much nicer. For the best aesthetic result, keep the position of end joints reasonably random by cutting different lengths of board to start rows.

Gaps

There will almost always be some slight gaps (1mm or so) between planks as you fit an acclimatised solid plank floor. Do not clamp boards to try and remove these as this can cause expansion problems later on. While fixing floorboards down, you may occasionally find a board that will create a bigger than normal gap due to minimal machining variations or uneven acclimatisation. Cut it in half and use it to start or finish a row.

Expansion Gap

To accommodate natural expansion and contraction in wood flooring a 15mm expansion gap is required around the entire perimeter of the room; this includes doorways, fireplaces, and any other ‘obstacles’ adjacent to the floor. Pay particular attention to door liners & plinth blocks which must either be cut to create an expansion gap under them, or have one left around them. For floors in excess of 6m wide, additional expansion of approx 1mm (penny gap) per metre width will also need to be integrated evenly across the floor. 
 

To create an expansion gap, insert wedges between the edge of the wood flooring and the wall during fitting (place the wedges before fixing floorboards in place). Once fitting is complete and any adhesive is dry, remove them and cover or fill the gap. To create expansion across the floor, insert a thin separator between boards as you knock them together (approx every third board for wide boards and every fifth board for narrow ones). 

 

To cover the expansion gap once you have finished laying the wood flooring, either fit new skirting or use beading onto existing skirting (fig 1). When butting up against thresholds, fireplaces, quarry tiles, brick or staircases fill the gap with cork strip for a neat finish.

Fig.1

Floor Levels & Thresholds

To maintain the expansion gap a threshold must always be left at doorways. Where there is no change in floor level between rooms, use either a T bar, leaving half the expansion gap either side of the fixing strip, or a cut a level threshold board and fit cork strip on either side. 
 
Where the floor levels differ between rooms, use an adjusting threshold to simply accommodate the variation. We have standard adjusting thresholds for variations of up to 15mm and can make them to measure for larger differences or to match the timber of the flooring. Standard thresholds should be fixed as fig 2 leaving the expansion gap underneath. Made to measure thresholds up to 15mm should be fixed as fig 3 with a cork strip either side to maintain the expansion gap. Thicker thresholds can be stepped with the expansion gap beneath as in fig 4 or square with a cork strip as in fig 5. 
 
Fig.3 Fig.2
Fig.5 Fig.4

Matwells

To protect wood flooring from being damaged by dirt and grit brought in from outside, we recommend that matwells are set at any regularly used entry doors. Unlike mats alone, which have a tendancy to move or catch on doors, matwells are cut into the floor so that the mat itself sits flush with the surface, and remains in exactly the right place.
 
Matwells look most attractive set forward slightly (say 100mm) from the doorway and ‘framed’ with edging strips to match or contrast with the flooring according to taste. These can be cut from the flooring or ordered separately and should always be well fixed.
 
We supply coir matting for these that can be easily cut to the required size and replaced when it wears.
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