3 Installation

Wood You Like to get The Doors?

When installing a wooden floor in any type of room there will be doors. At least one. Or seven in one hallway.
Wood You Like to keep the door posts simple Doors are not a problem - tick layers of paint on the hinges, now that's a problem. In our (Dutch) eyes the door frames are most times a small problem - no existing high enough wooden thresholds to bud the new floor against (leaving the needed expansion gap of course!) and a whole layer of wooden (or MDF) strips in various designs as architraves.

But nothing proper tools can't handle to cut underneath or cut to the right new height required so the floor or flat beading slides underneath the door posts and a new solid threshold separates the room from others without the door scraping over it - or causing draft.

Wood You Like to get the Doors All part of the daily job of a floor fitter. Well, wooden floor fitter that is.
We stopped counting the times our clients ask us kindly to cut doors in completely different rooms or areas after a carpet fitter or tiler has finished his/her job without 'closing the door'.

Apparently that's only a wooden floor fitter's common courtesy, getting the doors back in and having them work properly without damaging the new thresholds, floor or causing draft.

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FAQ: Can I install wood over carpet?

Housemites just love carpets but hate wood floorcoveringQuestion received
Hi
We are thinking of laying a wood laminate floor in our rented house. At the moment it is carpeted, with underlay, on top of concrete. The carpet is quite thin. If we give the carpet a good shampoo, is it ok to put the floor on top of the carpet, to all intents using this as an underlay for the floor.

Our answer:

Using a carpet underlay or a carpet as underlayment for wooden flooring is asking for trouble I'm afraid.
Cleaning a carpet will never get rid of all the dust, dirt (and bugs) it has gathered over its lifetime.

Best is to remove it, including the carpet underlayment and start 'a fresh'.

Wood You Like Ltd

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Floor sanding, tips and best tools

Discovering an original parquet floor underneath an old wall-to-wall carpet is a great and valuable discovery. Specially if the floor is still in one piece, i.e. no rows or tiles removed for installing a central heating system or other 'modern' plumbing work.

(See also our Wood Floor Guide: "7 Easy Steps to Repair/Restore Your Parquet Floor")

Restoring the parquet floor to its original lustre is really a 'labour of love', but with the right tools and products it will regain its beauty for many years to come. First up is to remove all carpet residue, like the sticky (rubber) underlayment. Scrapping will get most off. If you need to use chemicals try it out first in a corner behind a door - ventilate the room sufficiently and READ the instruction before hand!

Many old parquet floors were stuck down with bitumen which over time can become very brittle and loose its bonding power. Loose blocks (rattling underneath your feet when you walk over it) could be the result. Most old wood blocks have small T&G's all around, lifting one of the block could result in a kind of cascading effect, more loose blocks. So be careful when trying to remove loose blocks.
Before you re-install the lifted blocks remove as much of the bitumen from block and underfloor as possible. Any large residue of the bitumen will make the floor uneven, plus the time the modern adhesive will take to fully bond with block and underfloor will be longer - in cases we've seen even days longer!

Some re-found original parquet floors only need a bit of extra TLC, remove all dirt and apply a suitable maintenance product.
Others however take more work, specially when blocks had to re-installed (or 'new' blocks found to fill in empty spaces), the wear and tear layer is rather damaged (by carpet grippers etc). Then sanding the whole floor is the only solution (such a shame to cover your valuable parquet floor with carpet again!).

Before you go out and hire the first sander you can find, a word (two words really) of advice: remove what's left of the old finish material and hire the proper sanding equipment.
No matter with what grit you start sanding, if your old floor still has layers upon layers of wax on and in it you'll spend a fortune on sanding sheets! Try out a tiny corner of the floor with a sanding paper by hand. If the paper fills right up and spreads rubbish (warmed wax) all over the floor you'll first have to remove this old wear and tear layer. Apply Wax and Polish remover - turpentine or white spirit based - on a cloth and remove the old layers as best as possible. Again, VENTILATE & READ the instructions on the tin/bottle.

Wood You Like the best results with a Beltsander For the best end result after sanding your original parquet flooring you'll have to use (hire) a professional belt-sander Beltcloth(and edge-sander). Like the description says a belt-sander has a continuous (or endless) belt, or rather continuous (or endless) sanding paper - called Belt cloth. These belts are very easy to 'wrap' around the drum of the sander (1 minute tops), but most importantly will give the smoothest results on your floor.

Drumsander causing shatter marks, ruining your hard workMost DIY hire centres can only supply you with the (much lighter) drum-sander. Drum sanders have sheets of sanding paper, that has to be wrapped around the drum and fixed firmly in place with a metal bar. This metal bar, when not attached correctly will create shatter marks all over your floor. The problem is that those shatter marks will mostly only show up AFTER you applied the finish product (varnish or HardWaxOil). Trying to remove these marks with a rotary sander will create another problem: circular marks in your floor.

So for a 'professional' restored original parquet floor use/hire professional tools.

More tips and advice on restoring existing Oak flooring see our Wood-Guide "7 Easy Steps to Repair/Restore your Original Parquet Floor".

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When to install a wooden flooring during renovations - DIY-SOS

Not finished with the wet work yet!During renovations or redecorations a lot of work has to be done; like cabling, plumbing, screeding, plastering, wall-papering, painting etc. When you also plan to have a new wooden floor installed it is very important to schedule this job at the end of the 'line'.

Basically you first have to do all the 'wet-work' in and around the room(s) you plan to have wooden flooring in, plus allow sufficient time for the excess moist of plastering and/or painting to evaporate.

BBC's DIY-SOS asking advice from Wood You Like Ltd We advised BBC's DIY-SOS team the same when we were asked if it would be possible for us to install one of our quality wooden floors (on short notice).

The short notice wasn't the problem, the fact we would have just one day to install it neither. The fact that there was going to be a lot of plastering and painting in the days before was the problem.
You really shouldn't install a wooden floor (wood-engineered included) straight after the last day of plastering or painting.

Wood You Like was looking forward to work with BBC's DIY-SOS team Since DIY-SOS is always working on a very tight time-schedule we advised the team to source another type of floor-covering. Of course, in the future we are more than happy to help them out - as long as their project doesn't involve massive plaster work beforehand.

In renovation projects like this it comes in handy when you have a hygrometer in the room(s) you're working in as a guide to when the moist of plastering and painting is gone. You can speed up this process with sufficient ventilation, where the excess moist in the air is drawn out of the room - even in winter, just open the windows for 5 - 10 minutes every hour.

For screed work (or new concrete) there is a practical 'rule of thumb': every inch (2.5 cm) of screed/concrete needs 30 days to dry-out naturally before any floor-covering (but especially wooden floors) can be installed without causing problems of expansion or cupping straight away. The moist in the screed/concrete should be around 2% - 2.5% tops before you can start the installation of a wooden floor.

When you install a wooden floor on a still too wet underfloor you will notice this pretty soon. The wood will absorb the moist of the screed/concrete (even when a combi-underlayment is installed) and expand very quickly.

So be patient and prepare your 'when-to-do-what-task' list carefully but practically.
Better safe than sorry.

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Glueing, nailing, floating - what's what?

What is the difference between glueing, secret nailing and floating? And how does the width of the board effect the method you use?

Glueing = fully bonding the wood to the subfloor
Secret Nailing = nailing floorboard in 45 angle to batten (at least 4cm thick) or joist
Floating = installing underlayment first on subfloor, installing floorboard 'floating' on the underlayment and glueing the T&G's.

Glueing is mostly used with design parquet floors and strip floorboards (narrow boards up to 100mm) or when you have many small lengths of wider boards. Most manufacturers recommend glueing down all floor types when UFH is involved to prevent air-pockets.

Secret nailing: when installing directly onto joists (or sometimes on a subfloor of thick enough plywood - never nail on chipboard, this will split).

Floating: most solid and wood-engineered boards can be installed floating. Note for solid: as long as the width of the room is not wider than 5 - 6 meters, otherwise it is best to glue to solid floorboards.

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How to glue T&G boards the correct way

There seems to be some strange advice around on how to glue T&G boards when using the 'floating installation' method.

Recently we have seen how wrongly applying the PVAC wood glue can cause problems - in the short and long run - where the adhesive was applied on the underlayment in front of the already installed row of boards with the idea that installing the next row would 'scoop' up enough glue to bond the boards together..... Read more

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Traditional herringbone woodblock floor on a concrete

Q by Stephen Brown:
Hi.
I want to lay a traditional herringbone woodblock floor on a concrete base. Can you tell me

  1. What adhesive I should use?
  2. Whether the blocks should only be glued to the concrete floor or whether they should also be glued together with PVA?
  3. Is there a best time of year to do this from the point of view of shrinkage / expansion of the blocks (each block is about 11" x 3")? i.e in the summer when the air is moist or in winter when the air inside the house is dry?
  4. I have seen advice that says you should start a herringbone floor in the middle and work outwards. Is this correct? I'm thinking of a double herringbone pattern with a two block border. Unfortunately it is not a straight rectangular room but has a hearth to work around!

Thanks.

Our answer - read more:

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To kit or not to kit?

Q by Steven Derix: To kit or not to kit?

We are laying (or rather: having laid) a floor of so called 'industrial parquet'. The floorpieces are solid oak, about 16 cm in lenght, and 6 cm wide. The pieces are glued on an wooden surface. They will get a finishing of oil.

Naturally - the strips of wood being natural oak and quite small - there are small gaps between the floorpieces. The manufacturer advised us to fill in these gaps with a mixture of sawdust and some filling materail, a glue based on solvents, ore on a water-base. However, my 'parquetteur' (French for floor guy) is not keen on doing this. According to him, the kitting will come loose because of the shrinking/expanding of the wood, and because of the vibrations of the wooden underlayment caused by walking accross the room. Both arguments I put to the manufacturer. He says this is nonsense. The parquetteur however, persists. Whom to believe?

Our answer:

Hi Steven

Thanks for this question.

There will be small gaps indeed (if your parquetteur (parket-legger in Dutch, floor fitter in English) does his work correct it wouldn't be too many and only tiny ones.
And if he collects the sand-dust of the seconds sanding (grit 80, mixes that with wood-filler (like Lecol 7500) and 'plasters' this over the whole floor all gaps will be filled. After this has dried (goes rather quickly) the third sanding will remove any excess filler from your floor.

We've done this many times over and never had any problems with the filler coming out of the tiny gaps. So the manufacturer is right.

Just wondering however about the grade you mention: Industrial Grade Mosaic is normally only used as subfloor for Design Parquet Patterns (like herringbones) when installing on concrete floors.

Hope this helps.

(received kind reply back from Steven: It is, thanks. Actually, I got the same advice everywhere. I ordered the Floor Fitter to fill in the gaps.)

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Installing floorboards in small areas: to float or not to float?

We received a question this week if it was possible to install wooden floorboards in a small hallway using the floating method.

A 'floating' floor means the floorboards (solid, wood-engineered, veneer or melamine laminated floorboards with T&G's all around or click-system) are placed on top of the correct underlayment, and not secretly nailed on subfloor or on joists or fully glued down on level and sound underfloor. It's the most simple way with the least hassle and preferred by many DIY-ers and professional floor fitters.

The reason for the question was the worry if the weight of the floor in a small area would hold the floor down sufficiently even if installed underneath skirtingboards.

That worry is really uncalled for: the floor has no place to go if

  • installed properly on level underfloor
  • sufficient amount of expansion gap is kept all around the perimeter of the floor
  • door posts are cut under so the floor slides underneath (for neat finish and extra 'holding down power')
  • even if flat beading or scotia/quadrants are used to cover the expansion gaps instead of skirtingboards the (light) weight of the wooden floor, the furniture, the 'holding down power' underneath door posts, installed thresholds etc will hold the floor down and allow for the seasonal natural movement of the boards.

We've installed many floors in small areas (hallways, landings etc) using the 'floating method' without any problems.

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Filling large knots

Question:
I have 45sq mtrs of European oak tg flooring 190mmx20mm to lay on joists in my loft conversion, lengths mostly 3mtrs plus, I am going to finish the floor with 2 coats of Liberon floor sealer plus 2 coats of Liberon floor wax. There are rather a lot of knots that will require some sort of filling. What is the best way to deal with knots in European oak to provide the most descrete finish?
thanks!

Answer:
The best option is to sand the floor once it is installed with at least grit 80, collect the sand-dust, mix that with wood-filler and fill the knots with it. After it has dried you sand again with grit 120 to remove any excess filler.

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Installing a wooden floor on joists

Andrew Baker asked us the following question (see here for his original comment):

It's a 200-year-old listed mid-terrace cottage. The majority of room still have the original boards, which are in a serviceable condition (which is a great testament to the use of oak in itself). The room I am looking to work in has a few original boards but the majority of it is new ply or pine boards, all covered with carpet.

The existing boards are laid directly on joists. Joists have centres of around 400 to 500mm. All boards nailed to the joists. The underfloor void is about 300 to 400mm high above bare ground. This void is not currently ventilated with airbricks, and while this isn't causing too many problems it is something we are looking to rectify. We are also looking at ways to enable ventilation between the room and the underfloor void...... Read more

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How to lay a wooden floor: Keep it Simple

Installing a wooden floor (solid or wood-engineered) as DIY-er isn’t rocket science, more a case of common sense, patience, buying the right quality, using the correct materials and making the correct preparations.

Some things are so obvious we won’t go into them in detail (like buying wood that is suitable to be installed as floor and dry enough, meaning: timber wood – 15% moist or more – isn’t suited and that the room is wind and weather proof, wet decoration work finished etc).

(Update March 2010: many, if not all, tricks of the trade now available in the "Wooden Floor Installation Manual", 160 pages!)

Correct materials and correct preparations:
Quality products might be a little bit dearer; in the end it will save you time, aggravation and possibly even regret and money.

  • Make sure you have one type of underfloor and the underfloor is ready (dry, level, - remove existing floor-covering timely enough to make good any defects or unevenness in time)
  • Buy the correct underlayment (with the ‘floating-method’)
  • Have all the materials in house before you start, make a list of everything you need at least one week beforehand and make sure it can be delivered or collected on time (because some materials just run out of stock, you’ll know Murphy’s Law)
  • Make sure all tools you need are in the house, are working, sharp and safe (if you have to hire specific tools, place a reservation on them with the hire company so you’re not going to be disappointed)
  • Store the wood in the same area you plan to lay it (or in an area that has the same ‘climate-conditions’ – garages are a definite No No) 2 – 4 days before you start the installation; leave the wood in the packs (if wrapped in packaging material and according to manufacturers instructions, some do differ, most not).
  • Clear all furniture out of the room beforehand, dust from sawing will get in anything!
  • Remove – if needed – skirting boards, mark them when you do so you know which one to place back where to avoid mix-ups and extra cutting work when placing them back.

Preparations on the day (floating method with standard T&G fixing)

  • Ban little children from the room! (And cats, dogs or other pets.)
  • Check again if all materials and tools are there.
  • Materials: wood, underlayment, pvac-wood glue, spacers, beading or scotia, radiator-pipe-covers, thresholds, cloth (to remove excess glue as soon as you notice) and felt pads (for underneath furniture)
  • Tools: hand saw or Jig-saw, tape-measure, square, Stanley knife, pencil (at least three, they disappear in thin air), knocking block + Jemmy bar (both can be part of any DIY installation kit you buy - but are not always of the best quality), hammer, heavy duty bin bags, work bench (tool box should do fine also as bench, watch out for sawing into it).
  • If needed, remove doors and undercut architrave and/or doorposts (chisel out the last bit).
  • Open two packs of wood, check for any damages to the surface, tongue and groove or click-system. If any and on more boards, re-pack as best as possible and return every pack straight back to your supplier for new material or re-fund. In no circumstances open more packs to check for damages, this might render your guarantee useless.
  • Check if the boards are straight by laying them with the groove side on the (level) underfloor. Also check for bowing – cupping. Slight bowing (middle doesn’t touch the ground) of long boards is normal, extreme cupping (the ends stand up and leave a gap of over 5cm if turned up side down i.e. top surface faces floor) not.

If everything is OK and in the wood-type, grade and finish you selected mix the two packs to get a natural look and colour, shade mixture (all boards differ in colour and characteristics). During the works, keep checking for surface damages before you install a board, once down and between other boards/rows it’s a pain to remove it. (Murphy’s Law: it will always end up in the middle of the room where you would notice it most - afterwards.)

Do read the fitting instructions (if any) the manufacturer supplied with the floor, some might differ on some points and not following their instructions could render your guarantee worthless. When in doubt, call your supplier.

Installation tips, READ MORE HERE.......

Hi,
Great news from us, thanks to the confidence that I got from your brilliant book our beautiful floor is now finished.

Although I see myself as a competant DIYer, I was a bit worried that things could turn out to be tricky. Thanks to meticulous planning and the wisdom from the book- everything was really very straight forward.

I spent time ensuring the floor was flat before I started ( using a self levelling compound) and from there things were plain sailing. I will recommend your book to anyone I know and will also consider more projects for myself!

I will try and send some pictures when I get the chance
Thanks again
Neil S

Stackpaperbacks250-1

(Already have a wooden floor that needs restoring? See our "7 steps to repair/restore your original floor" guide)

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Case-study: Duoplank on Underfloor Heating

"As self-builders, we are very involved in specifying the materials used in our house.  We wanted the look and feel of real oak planks but without too many of the difficulties associated with the shrinkage of natural oak.  We quickly identified the Duoplank product through its UK distributor Wood-You-Like in Kent. This is an Engineered Board made with a wide top solid layer of natural oak and a high-quality birch ply substrate, critical to us because we were installing on concrete with UFH embedded in the floor. ................. Read more

 

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Always, always, always

When applying any type of finish, READ the instructions on the tin! And follow them, they're there for a reason.

Didn't mean to shout, but lately on various DIY-forums we encounter the same 'problem' being posted: after sanding and applying two coats of HardWaxOil the floor looks patchy. When we then ask how soon after the first layer the second layer has been applied, most times the answer is: after 4 - 5 days.

Never, ever leave it that late between applying the two coats of HardWaxOil; all brands (be it Osmo, Blanchon or other) specifically write on their instructions: apply the second coat within 36 - 48 hours. Otherwise, the grain-hairs of the wood 'stick-up' and the floor needs a light sanding first.

Read the instructions, and when still in doubt: call for advice - every proper supplier has either a company sticker with contact details on the tin, or the manufacturers help-line is printed on it.

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Q: Installing Solid Oak various rooms

Question:
I have 60 mm of Solid Oak 180x18 to go in new extentions on top of concrete, damp course and 8cm of screed on top.
Which is the correct way to lay floor, please?

P.S. The area is spread over four rooms, biggest being 8m x 6m

Answer:

We recommend installing the floor floating - any slight unevenness of the screed floor can be much better tackled this way than with fully glueing the floor down. Also, install every room separate (especially when two connecting rooms differ very much in width or have a small door opening) and install wooden thresholds in between.

Lay a DPM and sound-insulation underlayment first (look for a combi product) to prevent any residue moist from the screed going into the wood. The board can be installed on top of the underlayment, glueing the T&G's completely.

Rule of thumb for expansion gaps: 3mm per meter width of the room, minimum of 10mm all around. For the room that is 6m wide this should be at least 18 - 19mm. Cover expansion gaps with flat beading or skirting (thick enough to cover the gap of 19mm, plus leaving extra thickness for possible skrinkage).

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Q: Floating or Glueing?

Q Phil:
have just purchased £1000 worth of solid oak for 35 MS lounge concrete floor 15 year old house no damp do i float floor or seal floor and stick to floor as guy in shop sugests at £150 for adhesive.

the room is 9Mx5M the solid wood is 120mm wide 18mm thick and various length planks

A WYL:
You can install the floor floating: use proper sound-insulation (preferably a combi-product that includes DPM and sound-insulation foam) and glue all T&G's with PVAC wood glue. Leave a minimum of 15mm expansion gap all around.

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FAQ Installation

Not found the tip or advice you were looking for in this category?

Ask us here!

We will answer it to the best of our knowledge and as quick as possible.

If relevant your question will be turned into a new post.

Or check out our Wood Floor Guides:

"Do you know how to immediately increase the value of your house and comfort of your home?"

"7 Easy Steps to Repair/Restore your Parquet Floor"

"3 Easy STeps to Clean and Maintain your Parquet Floor"

         
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