How to Lay Wooden Flooring

Wooden flooring is more popular than other types of flooring for many reasons. There is nothing quite like the colour and warmth of wood. It is true that solid wooden flooring will cost a little more upfront, but this is outweighed by the great number of practical advantages over other options such as carpets and it is well worth the investment. Wooden floors increase the value of a property, and are so popular that estate agents will tell you that houses with wooden floors sell much more quickly than other types of flooring.


Good quality wooden flooring will last for decades. Even the highest quality carpets won’t last as long as wooden flooring – over the years carpets become thin and shabby in appearance. Although wooden flooring can become scratched after years of heavy use, this is easily remedied by sanding and sealing. It also provides an opportunity to change the colour of the finish and update the look of the entire room.

Easy to clean
A wooden floor is much easier to clean than a carpet – a quick vacuum or a damp mop will remove any mud or spills and keep your wooden floor spotless. When you’ve not had a chance to clean, wood’s natural colour also hides any neglected dust more effectively than lighter tiled floors. This is very useful in a busy household with small children.

As wood is easier to clean it is much more hygienic than a carpeted floor. Dust particles can become engrained in carpets, no matter how powerful the vacuum cleaner or high quality the carpet. Not only this, but carpets absorb stains, trap unpleasant odours, provide the perfect breeding ground for known allergens such as dust mites and have been known to house fleas.

Wooden floors have a unique timeless appearance and there is no doubt that they are extremely attractive. Tile and stone floors are just as hygienic and easy to clean but they lack the feel of warmth and homeliness provided by wood.

Different Types of Wooden Flooring

Solid Wood
There are many different types of hardwood available for flooring, including oak and walnut. However, some people cannot afford the cost of solid hardwood flooring upfront. If this is the case for you, don’t worry – there are cheaper alternatives available.

Engineered Flooring
This perfectly imitates a solid wooden floor; however it is made up of three different layers of real wood with a hard wood top layer. It is available in various different styles.

This type of flooring mimics real wood, but it is not actually made from wood. It is composed of compressed fibres such as MDF, topped with a photographic image of real wood and then covered with a layer of melamine wear. Laminate flooring is exceptionally tough and can be bought in variety of different colours and widths.

How to Lay Solid Wood Flooring

Laying solid wood flooring requires time – roughly two to three days on average – and considerable attention to detail. Many opt for using professionals, however if you need to cut costs this can be a DIY job, provided you prepared thoroughly.

Heat and humidity affect hardwood flooring. Upon arrival it should be removed from packaging and left to acclimatise for at least 24 hours inside the house. Do not store it in the shed or garage as moisture and humidity levels will be different inside the house.

Preparing the base
When laying a solid timber floor, the fixed method is recommended, rather than the floating method as is often used for engineered floor boards. This is because solid wooden flooring has the tendency to move around more. The secret to success with any timber floor is having a clean, sound and – most importantly – perfectly level base. Hardwood flooring can be fixed to concrete with or without a sub-base, to floor joists or on top of an existing timber floor.

Concrete and sub-bases
If the concrete is not level, a chipboard or plywood sub-base can be fixed on top of the concrete or self-levelling concrete overlay can be used. The wooden floor can then be glued directly to the concrete. Self-adhesive membranes are another option for gluing the flooring down, however the stick is so powerful that once stuck they are practically impossible to remove. If you decide to nail the flooring it will involve a lot of both face-nailing and blind-nailing. Although it is possible to nail by hand, it is advisable to use a power nailer for your face-nailing and a pneumatic flooring nailer for most of the blind-nailing. These tools can be rented if you don’t wish to buy them outright.

An existing timber floor
Installing flooring over an existing floor means you have instant added insulation and more soundproofing. However it also means that you have to correct any irregularities and a considerable amount of sanding may be required to do this, creating a lot of fine dust and mess. Laying a sub-base on top of existing timber flooring generally makes the flooring too high, so this is not usually an option. Once you have prepared the sub floor and checked it thoroughly with a spirit level, it will need a good clean and vacuum.

Sound and moisture barrier
Regardless of whether you are attaching your boards to concrete, sub floor or an existing floor, the next step is to lay a #15 asphalt laminated kraft paper floor underlayment. The edges of the paper should be overlapped by approximately 3 inches and the paper can be fastened to the sub floor using a staple gun. This is an essential moisture barrier and also provides extra soundproofing,

Attaching your flooring
Although you will have calculated all your measurements when you bought the hardwood boards, it is always a good idea to do a dry fit. By doing this you can mark any boards you need to cut to size and arrange them in the most effective and attractive way, staggering the end joints or adjacent rows by approximately 30cm. Plastic spacers should be used to provide an expansion gap of around three quarters of an inch between the walls and the boards. This gap will be hidden by the skirting board when you have finished attaching all your boards and the gap must be accounted for even during the dry fit.

When it comes to attaching your boards, the first row of boards should always be attached with their length running alongside the length of the wall and the plastic spacers for the expansion gap can be placed between the boards and the walls. Having already decided on your chosen method of attachment – glue or nailing – you will then attach your first row of boards. The second row should stagger end joints or adjacent rows by 30cm. Your final length of flooring may require rip cut lengths to fit, again allowing for the expansion gap.

Cutting your flooring to size
As you fit the flooring, you may be required to cut pieces to size. A power saw with a fence such as a job saw or table saw is the ideal tool for ripping lengths. Boards should be cut face up. For cross cutting end pieces, a power circular saw should be used with the board face down to prevent any small splints or tears to the woodwork showing.
Once all your flooring is attached you can reattach or replace the skirting boards, by fixing them to the wall rather than the floor. Then just sit back and admire the stunning end result of all your hard work.
Now that you know how to lay wooden flooring and the many advantages you’ll benefit from, you can browse the range of flooring available at Huws Gray today and start planning your installation.