Fitting Instructions for Solid Wood Flooring - by PHLOOR

- Important Checks Before Installation
- Testing The Sub Floor For Excess Moisture
- Installing Your Hardwood Floor
- Glue-Down Installation
- Maintaining Your New Hardwood Floor
- Underfloor Heating

Important Checks Before Installation
Timber is a living substance that reacts to changes in relative humidity. Wood gains and looses moisture before and after installation, as the surrounding atmosphere conditions change. Wood expands during the summer months, when humidity levels are high and contracts during the winter months when the humidity level is much lower. To minimise the movement in your flooring, your building must be well ventilated and the relative humidity maintained between 45% and 65%.

Before storing or installing your flooring, all plaster work, painting and wall papering should have been completed at least three weeks prior and be completely dried out. It is recommended that you acclimatise your flooring in the area where it is to be installed, at normal house temperature, (approx 20-22°C) for 48 hours before fitting. For new buildings or extensions to existing buildings, these areas must be given plenty of time to dry. Relative humidity must measure between 45% and 65% for a minimum of one week prior to installation.

The final decision to proceed with installation should be made by the installer, only after he/she has satisfied themselves that the local conditions are suitable for timber flooring. It is generally accepted, if you take a short cut or c ircumvent the necessary checks required to install a timber floor, YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS.

Testing the Subfloor For Excess Moisture
Concrete Sub Floor
The moisture level in the concrete sub floor must be tested using a professional Concrete Moisture Encounter. The moisture level must not read higher than 3%. If a higher reading is given, installation of the flooring must not proceed. The concrete should be left to dry. This process can be accelerated by installing a de-humidifier and increasing the heat in the area. Installation must not proceed until the correct moisture has been achieved.

Timber Sub Floor
The moisture level in a timber sub floor must be measured using a professional Timber Moisture Meter. The moisture reading from the timber sub floor and or batons must not exceed 12%. If a higher reading is found, installation must not proceed. If the levels are too high, turn up the heat in the area and open the windows. Do not proceed with installation until the correct moisture levels have been achieved.

Tools Required

(1) Secret Nailer
(2) Rubber Mallet
(3) Pull Bar
(4) Straight Brad Nailer or Claw Hammer & Nail Punch
(5) Circular Saw, Tenon Saw & Jig Saw
(6) Measuring Tape & HB Pencil
(7) Chalk Line
(8) 1.2m Spirit Level
(9) Wood Chisel

Preparing The Base Structure

- Concrete Sub Floor
Having ascertained the moisture level in the sub floor are correct, you must now lay down a moisture barrier of at least 1000 gauge polythene, taking care to overlap the edges by 200mm and tape all seams using a waterproof adhesive tape. Make sure the sub floor is c lean and free from stones and grit to avoid puncturing the barrier. Leave enough polythene at the perimeter to run it up behind the skirting boards.

The next step is to install the base on which to nail your floor. There are two methods commonly used here. You can either fix 35 x 50mm batons at 290/295mm centres, or fix full sheets of 19mm Ply or OSB3 to the sub floor. Check the moisture content in these products is no higher than 12%.

- Existing Timber Sub Floor
When installing a hardwood floor on top of existing floorboards, it is important to check that all the boards are securely nailed down. Using your spirit level, make sure the surface is level. If any boards are loose or broken, repair or replace them now. You must install your new flooring in the opposite direction to the existing boards. If you wish to lay your new floor in any other direction, you must first sheet out the old timber floor with 10mm ply, screwing it down at 300mm centres.

After preparing the base, the next step is to cut out the bottom of the door frames and architraves. This is done by taking a short board of the hardwood flooring and placing it face down beside the door frame to be cut. Place your Tenon Saw flat on top of the board and saw horizontally through the door frame and architrave. Remove the cut piece using hammer chisel. Repeat this process on all the doorways. It is possible the doors themselves may need to be shortened, to allow for the extra height of the floor after installing. This is done by removing the door from its frame, measuring the new required height and cutting the door from the bottom. This should only be carried out after the new floor has been installed.

Installing Your Hardwood Floor
The floor fitter is the most important person to the end user. He/she is the person who finally decides how the finished floor will look. Therefore it is most important they work from several boxes at the same time. This enables the fitter to decide on the best colour and grain structure mix, so as to achieve the best looking floor possible. Each board must be examined before installing, and discoloured or imperfect boards must be discarded.

Note of Caution:
Wood is a beautiful product of nature, but due to the intrinsic volatility of most species, it is always possible that as much as 5% of the product may not be suitable for its intended purpose.

Hardwood flooring is best laid in the direction of the incoming light. Bearing this in mind, start in the corner where the two longest walls meet.

(A) Take your chalk line and mark a line on the floor 12mm larger than the width of the flooring you are installing, away from the starting wall. Use this line as your starting point. Select the longest boards and placing them with the grooved side along the chalk line, fix them to the base floor by 'face nailing' them along the grooved side using the brad nailer or hammer and nail punch. Take care to place the brads or nail in an area, which will be covered by the skirting boards, when fitted. Complete the first row making sure the boards are in a perfectly straight line.

(B) Start the second row, making sure to use boards that cross the joints of the first row (staggered joints). Fix these boards in place by using the Rubber Mallet and Secret Nailer. Nail every 200-250mm on the tongued side, and never nail closer than 75mm from the end of a board.

(C) Continue across the floor in this manor, making sure to stagger all joints.

(D) Depending on the width of the floor to be installed and the species, it may be necessary to build in internal expansion as you move across the floor. This is achieved by placing 1mm washers between the joint, nailing the next row in place and then removing the washer, leaving a 1mm gap between the two rows. These 'washer gaps' should be left at predetermined intervals depending on the species and the width of the floor space.

(E) The last two or three rows should be installed using the same process as the first row, depending on the width of the boards. Nail holes can be filled using a coloured filler or wax.

(F) Upon completing the layers of the floor, fix your skirting boards in place to cover the perimeter expansion gap. Use a matching Scotia or quadrant to cover the gaps around Fireplaces, stair bull nose, balustrades ECT. At doorways use a 'Half Ramp' or cover strip, or it may be possible to take up the existing saddle board, rebate the underside to allow the flooring to expand and contract underneath and refit the saddle board in place. At 'Patio' or 'French Doors' fill the expansion gap using a flexible coloured sealer. This will help to prevent rainwater and condensation damaging your floor.

Glue-Down Installation
It is also possible to glue-down your flooring on to a concrete sub floor. Again it is the fitter's final decision as to whether the area and sub floor are suitable for this application. The moisture content of the sub floor must not be higher than 3%. It must be perfectly level and totally free from oil, grease and dust. You must use a water free adhesive, specifically designed for this purpose and follow the manufactures instruction implicitly. Always be aware that wood lives, so provide a 15mm expansion gap between the wall and flooring. This also applies to door thresholds, pipes and stairs, up against fireplaces and stone or ceramic floors. Please note that in larger areas you will need to build in some interal expansion as described earlier.

Maintaining Your New Hardwood Floor
Common Sense
(1) Place doormats at all external doors
(2) Use felt pads on all chair and table legs
(3) Use felt based cups on all soft furnishings fitted with castors
(4) Only use soft castors on swivel chairs
(5) Always protect your floor when moving heavy objects

Routine Cleaning
(1) Daily maintenance is done by wiping, sweeping or vacuuming your floor
(2) Remove dirt and stains with a gentle detergent and damp (not wet) sponge
(3) Remove spillages from your floor immediately. Never allow liquids to sit on your floor
(4) It is recommended to periodically clean your floor using a mixture of warm water and white vinegar. This should however be done using a well wrung cloth or sponge. This procedure will help to minimise the effects of oxidisation on the lacquer on your floor.

Underfloor Heating
Because our solid wood floors are produced and Kiln Dried specifically for our Damp Irish Climate and as such have MC. of 9-11%, they are not suitable for use with underfloor heating systems. Phloor recommends you use a product from our engineered or semi-solid range in conjunction with underfloor heating systems.