The Education Centre: How to install Solid Wood Flooring?

Always acclimatise your new floor

Moisture is an issue for wooden flooring because the material will expand with heat and damp. You should make sure your new floor is laid in for at least 7 days before installation in order to properly acclimatise.

How to prepare a concrete or wooden subfloor for glue down installation

For glue-down installation you must apply adhesive directly onto the subfloor, this can be laid onto both concrete and wooden subfloors.

Top tip: If you have ash-felt and bitumen based subfloors, or an under-floor heating system we recommend investing in engineered wood flooring over solid wood flooring.

If you’re laying over a concrete subfloor you will first need to check the moisture levels of the concrete. If the concrete has a moisture content reading of more than 4% then either wait until the subfloor dries to meet this level or use an appropriate moisture barrier. This is to ensure that no damp rises into your new floor.

All concrete subfloors must be dry, smooth, level and free of structural defects. If the concrete subfloor is uneven, we recommend using a self-levelling compound, these are available in our flooring accessories range.

The concrete must be free of paint, oil, existing adhesives, wax grease and dirt. These may be removed chemically or mechanically, but do not use solvent-based strippers as the use of residual solvents can hinder the bond of flooring adhesives.

If you have a wooden subfloor you will need to lay a 1/2" plywood base over this before installation, this will then give you a smooth and level surface for you to install your wood flooring on to.

How to apply the adhesive

You’ll need a strong adhesive, we suggest the LumberJack wood flooring adhesive. Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying it effectively:

  • Begin by trowelling this onto the floor, starting with the longest wall, this will work to leave you with a smooth surface
  • Spread evenly with a suitable notched trowel at no less than 0.5kg/m2 (don’t spread more adhesive than can be covered within 60 minutes)
  • Place planks/blocks tightly into position whilst the adhesive is still tacky (within 60 minutes) and tap into final position with mallet and block
  • Remove uncured adhesive with Everbuild wonder wipes before it dries (Caution - test compatibility with lacquer finished blocks first)
  • After 24 hours, the floor may be sanded and walked on, depending on site conditions (longer at low temperatures)

You will need to leave a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. To maintain this gap during installation spacers – you can find these in our Easy Installation kit. After you have installed the floor you can cover this expansion gap with scotia or new skirting boards.

The 10mm expansion gap also needs to be left in doorways where the floor follows through from one room to another and door profiles are specially designed to cover these spaces and compliment your solid wood floor.

How to glue down parquet flooring

Unlike most hardwoods, Parquet is installed beginning in the centre of the room and working your way outward to establish a visually interesting pattern and help make installation easier.

How to measure and find the centre of the room

  • Lay out your tiles without adhesive first so you can be sure of where you want them; work in quadrants.
  • Once you are sure of your placement, spread your adhesive material out on the area of the floor you're working on with a trowel.
  • Work in areas from the centre to the wall and come back to the centre to start another area when the pattern has been laid correctly – repeat these steps until the room is complete.
  • It is important not to hammer the tiles as it could cause damage.

Floating on an adhesive backed underlay

You can also install a solid wood floor over a concrete subfloor by floating it on an adhesive backed underlay such as Fast Fit Peel & Stick Underlay. This has adhesive on one side which the solid wood floor is laid onto. Before you lay down the underlay you will need to first lay a damp-proof membrane.

How to prepare the subfloor for a nailed-down installation

Solid wood floors can be nailed into existing wooden subfloors such as floorboards or plywood, but not into chipboard as this isn’t strong enough to hold the nails. The floorboards must be in good condition and level - if not it is advisable to lay 1/2" plywood down first.

To avoid creaking, check over the subfloor and securely fasten any loose floorboards. For added soundproofing it is also advisable to use a polyfoam underlay to provide a barrier.

Alternatively, you can nail down a solid wood floor over a concrete subfloor with the use of battens. A damp-proof membrane sheet must first be laid over the concrete subfloor before the battens are laid out at intervals of 450mm. The battens must be a minimum of 40mm in depth to avoid them bowing.

Tips for a successful nailed-down installation

To help you plan a nailed down installation in advance, red rosin paper can be laid down and stapled on top of the subfloor; you can then mark your baseline on here. To nail your floor into place use a nail gun at a 30-degree angle through the tongue and into the subfloor.

Like with glue down installation methods you will need to leave a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. These gaps are best created using spacers which are available in solid wood flooring installation kits and the unsightly spaces are easily covered with skirting or door profiles.

Top tip: Like with glue down installation methods you will need to leave a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.

Using the longest straight wall, place the end of the board at this baseline mark and nail it down with a hammer and one nail. After this first board, a nail gun may be used, and each board can be fitted together and nailed to the floor. Ensure the nail gun is set carefully to prevent going too deeply into the floor and damaging the wood.

As you lay the next piece of wood, end-to-end with the first, use a rubber mallet to gently hammer together. A tight fit is important to promote durability. The last piece of wood will need to be cut to fit properly – a circular saw will finish the job nicely.

Please follow the specific manufacturer’s step-by-step instructions for your flooring – these can be found on the individual product detail page, listed as ‘Installation guide’ you may also find our ‘Maintenance guide’ helpful too to ensure your floor stays looking as good as the day you fitted it.