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Originally posted 17th July 2019

Last updated 7th June 2022

How To Lay A Solid Wood Floor

Approaching the task of laying solid wood flooring can make even the most seasoned DIY...

Paul Hambidge

Managing Director Factory Direct Flooring Ltd

7 min read
Written by Expert
Approaching the task of laying solid wood flooring can make even the most seasoned DIY fan feel a little lost. There's a lot at stake when it comes to fitting this beautiful product in your home, especially as laying it wrong can come back to haunt you in the future. To help get you on the right path to fantastic floors we've looked at the tools you need for laying solid wood flooring, from your own hands to the nail in the final plank of wood.

What Tools Do You Need To Lay A Solid Wood Floor?

From measuring to glueing there are a few different solid wood flooring tools. To help you get to grips with the exact items, here's our must-have list of tools for laying a solid wood floor:
  • Tape measure and pencil - for measuring and marking boards.
  • Mitre saw - for trimming boards.
  • Glue adhesive - to keep your boards flat to the subfloor.
  • Trowel - for applying glue adhesive.
  • Flooring sealer - to keep moisture away from your wood floors.
  • Underlay - if you plan to use floating floors then we recommend underlay.
  • Nails and nail-gun - for fastening to wooden subfloors and for attaching trim.
  • Rubber hammer - for knocking any stubborn boards into place.

How To Lay Your Solid Wood Floor

Follow these steps to lay a solid wood floor:

1. Measure the room and order your floor

measuring to lay a solid wood floor The first step for laying a solid wood floor is making sure you have the right amount of boards to do so.

2. Allow your floor to acclimatise

The first, and most important, tool that is necessary when laying solid wood flooring in your home is patience. The first step to perfect floors is allowing sufficient time for your floorboards to acclimatise to the conditions in your home.

Moisture in the air makes floorboards expand slightly, so you’ll need to let the floor get used to the room first. We recommend leaving your flooring out of its packaging, in the intended room, for roughly one week before installing.

Waiting to lay wooden flooring You will also need a lot of patience when it comes to installing solid wood flooring, as the process requires a few steps until completion, all of which take time.

3. Prepare your subfloor

Once the boards have acclimatised you can start the process of laying your solid wood floor, but you will have to prepare first. Once you've made sure your subfloor is level, ensure it is as clean as it can possibly be by hoovering, sweeping, mopping and allowing to air dry. Don't try to tackle this as a quick task. The chances are that you'll be spending a long time on your knees, so invest in knee pads to allow you to so without pain. You'll also be around a lot of sawdust and listening to loud power tools so get hold of a dust mask, safety goggles and some ear defenders for when things start getting messy.

4. Remove Skirting Board

Removing your current skirting board with a crowbar allows an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room which lets the new wood expand in different climates. An expansion gap of around 15mm is recommended, to maintain this gap throughout the installation, plastic spacers can help you. After removing skirting, make sure your floor is completely clean and ready for the new solid wood panels. Removing skirting board

5. Gather your materials

Once you have the necessary wood floor installation tools you will be all set to install your brand new solid wood flooring, which you can find in our solid wood flooring. Other equipment you may need for completing the installation includes varnish and applicators for the varnish. We recommend sealing your solid wood floors with varnish to make sure they're protected from scuffs and light water damage. A minimum of three coats of varnish is recommended, though for areas with high amounts of foot traffic a fourth coat is required.

6. Lay your first row of solid wood flooring

Installing a solid wooden floor Start from the left-hand corner, fixing the first row of boards. Just remember to leave enough space for expansion. If your chosen boards have tongue and groove edges, ensure the groove is facing the wall and then nail or glue down depending on your subfloor.
  • If glueing, apply the glue to the subfloor and the not panels, then spread evenly using a notched trowel. Press down each board firmly as you go along, make sure that the sides are always pressed tightly together and wipe away excess adhesive before it dries.
  • If nailing, it’s best to use a nail gun at a 30-degree angle through the tongue of the board and into the subfloor. With both methods, gently use a rubber mallet to knock the boards together for a tight fit.

7. Cut the Boards

Cutting wood to lay a wooden floor When you reach the end of a row, you’ll likely need to cut the board to fit. Remember to leave enough space for your 15mm expansion gap and then carefully cut with a circular saw. Use what is leftover from this board to start the next row and ensure an equal number of boards.

8. Add Skirting

Laying skirting when installing a floor After you’ve laid all your panels, you’ll need to add skirting to fill in the expansion gap. You can either replace your previous skirting board or use this opportunity to get new skirting boards to complement your new wooden floor. At Factory Direct Flooring Ltd, we offer either solid wood skirting or beading in our Accessories section. Fix these into position by using a hammer and a nail. Finally to complete your solid wood flooring installation, polish your new floors to complete your look!

Why You Need To Let Wood Floor Acclimatise

As solid wood flooring is made from natural materials, it can be relatively susceptible to changes in the atmosphere. Wood tends to expand and contract according to different environmental conditions, which can be problematic when you are looking to achieve a particular look in your home. It is for this reason that letting solid wood floors acclimatise is such an important step in your flooring process. Fortunately, conditions tend to be stable in most homes, so once your flooring is installed you shouldn't find much movement in the boards. Any movement there is will fit into the expansion gap you left when installing the boards. However, the conditions between the warehouse the boards were originally stored in and your home will differ massively. This means the boards will change once they are placed in your home.

What happens to acclimatised wood floors

The movement that occurs once your new floors are brought to your home is exactly why you should let wood floors acclimatise before fitting them. Though the warehouse that had been storing your flooring may keep the flooring at a 'normal' condition, the environmental situation in your home may not be considered normal. For example, your home may experience more or less moisture than the warehouse, or you may have a warmer or colder temperature at which you like to keep your home. Wood floors shrink when there is less moisture content in the air, but expand when there's more. If the conditions in your home aren't stable, i.e are particularly wet, your floorboards may cup or warp.

How to let wood floors acclimatise

Before your shipment of solid wood flooring arrives you should make sure the conditions at your home are stable and as reflective of the constant situation in your home as possible. This means avoiding any situations whereby our home would then have a lot of moisture present in the area. This means not painting or dry-walling your home too close before your flooring shipment arrives or during the acclimatisation period. Drywall mudding and painting can be responsible for as much as 200 gallons of moisture in your home and, as this moisture is airborne, this can create a humidity level of over 90% in your home. For reference purposes, if wood flooring sits in an environment with 70% humidity levels, it can easily start to cup within the boxes within 48 hours. Make sure you have a steady home environment for your floors to rest in whilst they acclimatise before installation.

Our Flooring Calculator

When you browse any type of flooring at Factory Direct Flooring Ltd, each product has a flooring calculator on the page. Simply enter the surface area in either metres or feet squared and our My Project flooring calculator will tell you how many packs you’ll need and how much it will cost you. By simply measuring your room and entering your dimensions, we will provide you with an instant price which will show on every type of flooring you browse across our website. You can either input the total coverage or your width and length measurements, in meters or feet. You can even save your measurements room by room to make your shopping experience stress-free. It also offers to add an extra 10% for wastage. While this may cost a little bit more, we highly recommend adding it just in case there are mishaps during the installation process. Enjoy the My Project flooring calculator below:
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About the Author

Paul Hambidge, Managing Director

Paul has 32 years of flooring industry knowledge & experience from both an installation and manufacturing perspective. He started out as installer of very large commercial flooring projects for multiple retailers. As director of Factory Direct Flooring Ltd, he has been involved in all aspects of flooring and has worked with some of the largest producers of wood flooring, vinyl flooring and laminate floors.