A solid wood floor in your home can be an object of great pride and beauty. It not only adds immediate value to your home but, when properly taken care of, lasts for ages as well. But owning the kind of timber flooring Gold Coast homes love is only satisfactory when it is installed correctly.
There are a number of different ways of installing a floor correctly; here is a quick how-to of going about it.
Gluing down on concrete
One of the ways of laying down a solid wood floor is by using a special adhesive for wood floors. Using this method, you can lay the wood floor down on both concrete and wooden sub-floors.
If your sub-floor is concrete, you must measure its moisture level first; this needs to be below 4 per cent to ensure that there is no moisture creeping up into your new floor from below. If the moisture levels are 4 per cent or above, either leave the area for a few days to dry further or use a moisture barrier. You must also make sure that the sub-floor is smooth, level and free from dust, chemicals, grease and structural faults. If you are cleaning the sub-floor, avoid using solvent-based strippers as they can prevent the wood glue from functioning properly. If your concrete floor is new, allow it at least 60 days’ drying and settling time before installing a wood floor on top.
Gluing down on wood
If you are installing your floor on top of wooden sub-floors, you will require to first lay down a half-inch plywood base board over which the solid wood floor can be installed. This gives the finished floor a level surface to sit on beautifully.
It is important to keep in mind that solid wood floors tend to expand and shrink quite a bit so there must be a 10mm expansion gap all around the edges of the room. This gap can then be covered over with new skirting boards or scotia. This gap must also be left in doorways if the floor is flowing from one room to the next. Once you get started with installing the solid wood floor, you will find installation spacers provided in flooring kits to help you maintain this gap all around.
The nail-down method
The traditional way of installing solid wood floors is by nailing them down. This can be done on both concrete as well as wooden sub-floors. Once again as with concrete sub-floors, it is very important to keep moisture levels in check before installation begins. A damp proof membrane is mandatory when using the nail-down method and battens are used to install the floor boards. It is important to ensure that the battens are at least 40mm deep and spread out at intervals of 450mm for proper installation. When nailing the boards down, the nails must be driven at an angle of 30 degrees through the tongue and down into the sub-floor. As with all solid wood floors, make sure you leave a 10mm gap all around the outer edge of the room for expansion and natural movement.
If you have a wooden sub-floor, make sure that its boards are level and in good condition to give the finished floor a sturdy base. A solid wood floor cannot be installed on top of chip wood as it is too weak to support the nails.
Floating on an underlay
Another method of installing solid wood floors over a concrete sub-floor is by ‘floating’ it over a special underlay that has an adhesive on one side. You must first prepare the sub-floor for the underlay by spreading a damp proof membrane on top. The solid wood floor is then laid down on the adhesive side of the underlay. This method is rather straightforward and makes the installation a little less technical.
Some important considerations
Before installing a solid wood floor, it is important to read up well on the recommended installation method and get plenty of tips and advice from the floor provider and other literature. Most of the problems associated with solid wood floor installations are to do with improper preparation of the sub-floor or silly mistakes in the installation method itself. These can easily be avoided by being well-informed and scrupulous. If you are still in any doubt, do not hesitate to seek advice from a professional as he will be the best authority on the subject.
A solid wood floor is as beautiful as it is costly so do it once and do it right. You will be reaping the benefits of a beautiful home in no time at all.