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hardwood flooring installation information

Fitting & Installation of Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Just Wood Flooring employ a small number of reliable and professional floor fitters who will install wood flooring for you. These fitters will travel to most areas of the UK. Please contact Just Wood Flooring to discuss your specific requirements.

Whether or not you consult Just Wood Flooring regarding experienced flooring fitters, it is strongly recommend that you employ an expert in this field to install your flooring – it will inevitably cost a little more than a DIY installation but could prove vastly more cost effective than, for instance, a poorly fitted floor having to be repaired, taken up and refitted or even replaced!

Skilled and Experienced Wood Flooring Fitters

A skilled and experienced wood flooring fitter will be very aware of the following vitally important considerations and will be able to advise on many other, equally important considerations, including the most appropriate flooring to be used, appropriate fixing methods, the use of vapour barriers, underlays, expansion gaps and breaks, maintenance and aftercare.

Important Fundamental Considerations

When considering wood floor boards, against the myriad of alternative flooring options available in the market place – or indeed when considering the suitability of wooden flooring for your project, it is vital that due consideration be given to the following factors (see more detail below):

Condition of the Site

Damp situations and conditions of high humidity are simply not suitable to the installation of any wooden flooring, neither solid nor engineered.

The vast majority of complaints and problems associated with wood flooring arise where floor boards are inappropriately laid in conditions that are too wet.

Where wooden flooring is to be installed into a new building, an old building, a new extension or into any refurbishment project, it is vital that the building be given appropriate time to dry out and to lose much of the water used in its construction.

Literally gallons of water are introduced in construction by way of (for instance) wet weather experienced during the build, a new concrete slab, mortar in brick and block laying, traditional plastering, dry lining & skimming, emulsion painting etc. etc., this moisture must be allowed to dry off prior to the installation of any solid or engineered wood floor boards.

Doors and windows should all be installed and heating should be operational. The building should have been given time to gradually attain somewhere close to its long term ambient humidity levels.

Humidity checks must be carried out on the subfloor, on the atmosphere within the room or building and on the flooring to be laid using appropriate instrumentation, such as moisture meters and hygrometers, that can be hired and that most specialist wood flooring contractors will possess. The results of these checks should be recorded and if they demonstrate that the conditions are too wet (see table below) then either more time should be allowed for the drying of the site or an alternative to wooden flooring should be chosen. If the relative humidity of a concrete sub floor exceeds 75% then a wood floor should not be installed. Bear in mind that a new concrete subfloor takes in the order of a month per each 25mm of thickness to dry to acceptable levels appropriate to wood floor boards. This timescale is obviously dependent on factors such as temperature and degree of ventilation of the building. If wooden flooring is being laid over an existing wood floor, chipboard or plywood then the moisture content of the subfloor should be within +/- 2% of the moisture content of the new floor to be laid.

Attained moisture content of wood flooring exposed to variations in temperature and humidity.

Relative Humidity (%)
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
30 1.4 2.6 3.7 4.6 5.5 6.3 7.1 7.9 8.7 9.5 10.4 11.3 12.4 13.5 14.9 16.5 18.5 21.0 24.3
40 1.4 2.6 3.7 4.6 5.5 6.3 7.1 7.9 8.7 9.5 10.4 11.3 12.3 13.5 14.9 16.5 18.5 21.0 24.3
50 1.4 2.6 3.6 4.6 5.5 6.3 7.1 7.9 8.7 9.5 10.3 11.2 12.3 13.4 14.8 16.4 18.4 20.9 24.3
Temperature (°F) 60 1.3 2.5 3.6 4.6 5.4 6.2 7.0 7.8 8.6 9.4 10.2 11.1 12.1 13.3 14.6 16.2 18.2 20.7 24.1
70 1.3 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.4 6.2 6.9 7.7 8.5 9.2 10.1 11.0 12.0 13.1 14.4 16.0 17.9 20.5 23.9
80 1.3 2.4 3.5 4.4 5.3 6.1 6.8 7.6 8.3 9.1 9.9 10.8 11.7 12.9 14.2 15.7 17.7 20.2 23.6
90 1.2 2.3 3.4 4.3 5.1 5.9 6.7 7.4 8.1 8.9 9.7 10.5 11.5 12.6 13.9 15.4 17.3 19.8 23.3
100 1.2 2.3 3.3 4.2 5.0 5.8 6.5 7.2 7.9 8.7 9.5 10.3 11.2 12.3 13.6 15.1 17.0 19.5 22.9

In the table above, the vertical scale shows temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, the horizontal scale shows relative humidity (%).

The white area of the chart displays the ambient moisture content that wood flooring will attain for any given situation of temperature and relative humidity. For instance, if a building was maintained at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 55% relative humidity then, over a period of time, the wood flooring would settle at a moisture content of around 10.1%.

As you can see, the ambient moisture content of the wood flooring is much more dependent on the relative humidity than on the temperature of the site.

The shaded area covers the most likely range of conditions in a domestic situation within our UK climate. Clearly levels of temperature and humidity will vary on a long term basis (between seasons) and on a short term basis (throughout the day and night).

For this reason, any wood floor (or for that matter any wooden joinery or furniture) will be constantly expanding or contracting in service, however, these relatively small movements will not adversely affect the practicality or performance of the flooring.

The table also demonstrates the fact that if wood flooring, at say 8.5% moisture content (which is quite typical ex factory or ex merchant) is installed into an environment of say 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% relative humidity, then it will (over the course of several days) attain a moisture content of 11.1%. As it attains this level of increased moisture content it will expand.

In the case of solid Oak flooring an increase in moisture content from 8.5% to 11.1% would be likely to result in swelling of between 0.5% (for a quarter cut board) and 0.8% (for a crown cut board).

Or in other words, a 150mm width board in the above (very possible) circumstances would swell to between 150.75mm and 151.2mm. If you consider this amount of expansion over a typical room width of say 3600mm then the resultant total aggregate expansion would translate to between.18mm and 29mm; hence the critical need to provide appropriate expansion gaps beneath skirting boards and beneath expansion breaks/ramps & bridges.

The converse of the above situation would apply if flooring was installed into an environment dryer than the new wood flooring – i.e. the floor boards would shrink by a corresponding amount and result in gaps between boards that are quite normal, attractive and widely experienced particularly in old buildings still having their original (or very old) floor boards.

Condition of the Sub-Floor

Please read section 1) above.

Considering the fact that wood flooring, in appropriate circumstances, can be fitted on to a wide variety of sub-floors, such as:

Or over an existing wood floor and even over an existing floor of another material (such as ceramic tiles), it is vitally important that the moisture content of the sub-floor has achieved its ambient long term humidity and that this is close to that of the wood flooring to be laid. It is also vital that appropriate vapour barriers are used and that appropriate expansion gaps are provided (see section 1 above).

Likely Range of Temperature and Relative Humidity in the Building

Please read section 1 above.

Consideration should be given as to the likely long term ambient conditions that will be experienced by the floor in service – for instance, will the floor be exposed to extremely dry conditions for example in situations of under floor heating or perhaps air conditioning? If so, then an engineered flooring product will be more suited to the application than will a solid wood floor.

Likely Traffic Levels to be Experienced by the Flooring

Consideration should be given as to the suitability of a wooden floor boards in areas of high traffic and in situations where people will walk over the floor in outdoor shoes – soil, grit, sand and other abrasives will very soon give rise to visible damage to an oiled or lacquered wood flooring product.

Although wood flooring can be refurbished, other flooring materials, rather than wood, may be much more appropriate in high traffic situations.

Please now refer to our Helpful Tips, Advice & Considerations section.