Laying Floorboards – Issues

When fixing floorboards down, consider the following advice:

Board Direction

Conventionally, and to show them off to their best advantage, boards 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 floorboards which feature significant variation, be it colour, length of board or grain, board selection has a significant influence on the overall look of the floor. It is important to be sensitive to this and distribute any variation evenly to achieve a natural looking floor. The best way to do this is to spread the boards out prior to installation.

First Line

The first row of flooring sets the line for the whole floor. 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 before pushing against it.

End Joints

When laying floorboards, bear in mind that end joints in adjacent rows of planks must be staggered at least 150mm apart and we recommend a minimum 250-300mm. For the best aesthetic result, keep the position of end joints reasonably random by cutting different lengths of board to start rows.


There will almost always be some slight gaps (1mm or so) between boards 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 the 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. While laying floorboards, 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 need to be integrated evenly across the floor. 
To create an expansion gap, insert wedges between the edge of the floor and the wall during fitting (place the wedges before fixing floorboards in place). Once fitting is complete, 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 floorboards down, 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.


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


To protect against dirt and grit brought in from outside, we recommend that matwells are fitted into floors at any regularly used entry doors. We can supply coir matting for these that can be cut to size and replaced as it wears. 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.
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