Before you start
It is necessary to allow wood flooring to acclimatise to the ambient temperature and humidity of the room where they are to be laid. Bring room up to normal living temperature and stack the floorboards horizontally in the room for 48 hours prior to the laying.
Before starting to lay wood flooring, decide how you will cover the expansion gap left around a floating floor:
A. Remove the skirtings and take the boarding up to within ⅜ in (10 mm) of the wall, then replace the skirtings at a higher level to cover the gap.
B. Alternatively, leave the skirtings in place and, when the flooring has been laid, pin or glue a narrow wood moulding to the skirting (not the floor) to hide the gap.
Before you lay wood flooring you must clean, dry and level the subfloors:
Floorboards must be reasonably flat with all fixing nails driven below the surface. If necessary, level the floor with hardboard or plywood.
Concrete and hard-tiled surfaces must be free from rising damp, and any very uneven areas filled with a self-leveling compound.
All wood flooring must be cushioned with an underlay to even out any slight irregularities in the subfloor. The standard underlay comprises strips of very thin plastic foam that are rolled out over the floor:
Using scissors or sharp knife cut out underlay to fit your floor layout.
Leave a ⅜ in (10mm) gap around pipes.
Butt the stripes together.
Join them with self-adhesive dutching tape.
Laying over a concrete floor:
A slightly thicker underlay incorporates a moisture barrier for laying over a concrete floor. It is fitted and joined like the standard overlay, or you could lay a sheet of polythene over a concrete subfloor and the use the standard foam underlay on the top. Though, combined underlay and moisture barrier is a more convenient solution.
Soundproofing and thermal insulation:
Lay a polythene moisture barrier over a concrete floor before you use this type of underlay.
Check whether the combined thickness of underlay and flooring (you might need to cut the bottom of the room door and possibly rise the skirtings).
Lay panels of ⅚ in (7 mm) felt or wood fibreboard as an underlay.
Stagger the joints leaving a ⅛ in (5 mm) gap between the panels and a ⅜ in (10mm) expansion gap around the edges of the room.
When laying a floating floor you will need:
A tapping bar and block (both available from flooring suppliers here).
A hammer or mallet to drive the glued joints together.
Spacers to maintain an even expansion gap around the room.
Try square and tenon saw to measure and cut an infill boards.
Standard PVA wood glue (unless the flooring manufacturer recommends another type of adhesive).
Damp cloth to wipe surplus glue from the surface of the floorboards.
If you want to know more about types of wood flooring see our advice on Choosing Floorboards.
Laying tongued and grooved wood boards
The edges and ends of wood boards are machined with tongues and grooves that slot together. It is possible to glue solid wood flooring to a concrete subfloor or nail down over an existing suspended wood floor but it is much simpler to construct a floating floor that does not have to be fixed in any way to the subfloor.
With the subfloor prepared and the underlay in place begin in one corner of the room, against the longest straight wall:
Lay the first board with its tongued edge facing the wall.
Place spacers between the board and the skirting or wall to create an expansion gap of between ⅜ and ⅝ in (10 and 15mm) depending on the flooring manufacturer’s recommendation.
Add boards end to end up to the far wall, then measure and cut an infill board to complete the first row (allow for the expansion gap when measuring the board).
Use a try square to mark the line accurately and then cut the board to length with a tenon saw.
Use the offcut to start the next row so that the end joints between boards are staggered by between 6 in and 1 ft (150 and 300 mm).
Fit each length of the flooring, one to another, using the tapping block to make sure the joints fit snugly.
Once the first three rows are completed, dismantle the joints and then re-lay the boards this time squeezing a bead of wood glue along the groove, as you reassemble each joint.
Tap the joints together as you lay the boards, and use a damp cloth to wipe surplus glue from the surface of the wood.
Use the tapping bar to close up end joints.
Leave the adhesive to harden overnight before you fit the cover moulding