How to Install a Hardwood Floor
Planning to install a hardwood floor?
To ensure a successful installation that offers the perfect blend of performance, beauty and durability, it is essential to consider various factors. We wish to simplify the process for you and in this guide, we will take you through the process of laying a hardwood floor. Read on to know more about hardwood floor installation and ways to make the process smooth and get the perfect end result.
To begin with, there are a number of theories with regard to hardwood floor installation and people have their own views on how it should be done. Solid flooring has changed over time. Essentially floor boards were typical 19mm and above with a tongue and groove profile, however, in recent years with more and more build having existing subfloors of either concrete, existing flooring or compressed sheet (yellow, red or blue tongue) flooring you will find that solid timber has reduced in thickness to 14mm or what we call a “solid overlay”. That is typically because looking at the profile of solid board, the amount of timber below the tongue line or the surface area of your actual floor acts as the board structural bearing, but with more and more builds having solid substrates the need to have thicker timber to span over a joist is not required and hence the reduction in thickness of the board. The flooring surface area remains just the body reduces, making for more efficiency and sustainable timber recovery. Installation over concrete floors require a few more steps to that over timber substrates. With Concrete flooring, the concrete must be dried to BCA standard, flat and level, free of loose debris and any divots or uneven areas levelled with suitable floor levelling compounds prior to installing. From there a moisture membrane ( either painted on or matting is laid, followed by a ply layer to allow your solid timber to be mechanically fixed. Whereas timber substrates simply require sand to ensure flatness (also making sure the subfloor is structurally sound) and then your solid floor can be installed directly over the timber substrate.
Acclimatize Your Hardwood Floor:
A crucial step when installing hardwood floor involves acclimatizing the flooring, to give it time to adjust to its new environment. The location and atmospheric conditions play a part in any installation and it is important to ensure that the hardwood flooring is allowed to acclimatize sufficiently. This can vary pending the species, location of your timber (ground vs. first floor), thickness, how the timber has been handled onsite (laid out in rooms left in a pile) the moisture content pre and post the delivery of material and where it has been kept onsite, as the timber will accumulate more atmospheric moisture content based on some of these factors listed above. Time frames can range between a few weeks and 4 seasons, so it is not uncommon to see flooring still expanding and contracting over the course of the year. You have to remember timber is a natural product and movement is expected. That is the joy and curse of timber products, they do not just lay dormant and will always have reaction pending the environment in which they lay.
Though people have different views about acclimatization, it is always better to have an overlay (14mm board) fixed to the subfloor, rather than stacked or laid out in rooms loose. If they are not fixed, you run the risk of boards cupping and bowing pre-installation. So, in our view, the best approach with overlay boards is to install them as soon as possible, allow them to settle affixed and then come back to “flood fill” ( fill any gaps) then sand / seal when all other trades have completed their part making the finish the last thing you do prior to finishing trades and move in.
The 19mm floor boards having slightly more timber to deal with and so they can be left out to settle but like any timber product, the more free air time you give all the timber in its new environment the better.
Once the floor is installed and sealed, ensure you keep off it for at least 48 hours to let the seal fully cure, touch dry finished will still be soft as the product is still migrating and forming. It is also important to maintain it for an immaculate look. Make sure to keep the floor surface free of grit by cleaning regularly and consider felt bottom furniture protectors under your furniture and heavy items to avoid scratching. You can even make use of a flooring cleaning kit to keep your floor in top notch condition always.
Still unsure? For any queries, feel free to reach out to us. We will be happy to assist you.