How to lay solid wood flooring
Laying a wooden floor
Solid wood flooring is a popular choice for the home because of its ability to completely transform the look of a room. It’s durable, long-lasting, and provides a timeless, classic look. This type of flooring is easy to maintain and because the wood is natural it matures well, leading to subtle changes in shade which will only improve its looks over time.
Laying down solid wood flooring isn’t actually that difficult, but thorough and careful preparation is absolutely vital if you want to avoid future problems. It’s crucial to determine if your sub-floor is suitable, especially with regards to moisture content. Solid wood flooring is usually fixed directly to a sub-floor rather than ‘floated’. This is because solid wood flooring tends to move a little more than laminate or engineered wood flooring, so it needs a more stable fixing.
Most solid wood flooring uses a tongue and groove fitting system, but some designs do have a different fitting system – check the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. This guide covers how to fit tongue and groove flooring.
Do I need underlay for solid wood flooring?
All underlay helps with damp-proofing and insulation, but because solid wood flooring is laid directly onto a sub-floor you don’t usually need underlay. Note that underlay is different from a damp-proof membrane, which you probably will need.
How do I lay solid wood flooring on concrete?
Because concrete is porous you will need to check its moisture levels before laying down your floor. As a general guide you can use duct tape to securely stick down 1m2 of polythene onto the concrete and leave overnight. If your concrete is damp, water droplets will collect on the underside of the polythene.
Alternatively you can use a professional moisture metre for a more accurate reading. Concrete sub-floors should have a moisture content of 12% or less on a prong test, or 3% or less on a moisture meter. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for further details. If your concrete is too damp the cause will need to be investigated and resolved before you lay down any flooring.
If your concrete is suitable you can apply a damp-proof membrane to ensure that no moisture gets through in the future - refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. A good surface primer should be able to form a strong bond with the flooring adhesive.
How do I lay solid wood flooring on floorboards?
It’s possible to lay solid wood flooring directly onto existing floorboards if they are clean, dry and level. If you’re fixing solid wood flooring to existing timber, then nailing – using secret nails - is your best option. You need to nail the new boards at 90o angles to the original boards for the most stable fit.
If your current floorboards aren’t level you will need to lay down a half inch plywood subfloor. It is not advisable to lay solid wood flooring directly onto chipboard, which isn’t robust or damp-proof enough.
How do I maintain solid wood flooring?
Once your floor is laid, put felt pads or castors on the bottom of chair or table legs to prevent scratching. To maintain the superb natural look of the wood, don’t use abrasive cloths or excessive amounts of water to clean the floor. You can use dry brushes, vacuum cleaners or appropriate spray cleaners and polishes.
How much solid wood flooring will I need?
To calculate the number of packs you need, work out the size of your room in m2 (length x width = m2) and check against the coverage of the pack. Add an extra 10-15% for cutting and wastage.
Solid wood flooring needs to acclimatise to the room it’s going to be laid in. Leave the unopened packs flat for at least 7 days. Don’t stack the packs more than three high, and preferably wedge something between each pack so the air can circulate fully around them. Never store the packs by leaning them against the wall, which can lead to bowing.