Preparing to Lay Wood Flooring

Wood is an attractive and hardwearing option. Imitation wood floors are broadly referred to as laminate floors. Real wood is more expensive, but gives a higher-quality finish. Real wood floors can now be laid using clip-together techniques (ideal for DIY), as well as by more traditional methods such as gluing tongue-and-groove.

Laying A Wooden Floor

Do not lay wood or laminate where humidity will be high (e.g., the bathroom or kitchen) unless the manufacturer states that it's suitable. Wood can be laid on most sub-floors that are level and in good condition.

Refer to the guidelines here for estimating quantities of underlayment. Estimates for wood and laminate flooring should be made in the same way as those for floor tiles (see below).


Most wooden flooring is laid “floating” (not attached to the subfloor). This allows some movement in the wood, aided by expansion gaps at the edge filled with cork and /or hidden by moldings (fixed to baseboard, not flooring).

Plan ahead, considering any fixtures that will need boards to be cut to fit around them, and avoid awkward slivers. Try not to attach permanent fixtures to or through a floating floor, which could restrict its movement or cause cracks to appear.

Start laying boards at one wall and go across the room, staggering joints between boards for the most hardwearing and best-looking finish.

Tools / Supplies needed:

Plastic wedges: Used around the edge of the flooring, to keep the expansion gap a consistent width.

Pry bar: Used in fitting end sections of floor, if space is too tight to use a hammer and /or knocking block. Hammer strikes raised section

Knocking block: Protects the edge of a laminate or wooden board when being positioned.

Ratchet floor clamp: Used to tighten joints when laying a floating floor, as shown here. Strap threads into ratchet section.

Clip-together board: Real wooden flooring with clip-together joints.

Edge beads: Molding to cover expansion gaps around the edges of a floor.

Cork strip: Fills expansion gap. Needed only if manufacturer calls for it.

Roll underlayment: Thin material positioned below floating floors.

Laminate board: Wood-effect flooring connected by tongue- and -groove.

Tongue-and-groove wooden board: Real wooden flooring with tongue-and-groove fitting.

Pipe cover: Decorative cover to give clean finish at the base of pipe.

Sheet underlayment: Thick material supplied in small boards or sheets for use below floating floors.

Comprehensive Tools, Materials and Supplies Checklist for Upcoming Sections on Flooring

  • Laying ply or hardboard: Grab adhesive*, knee pads, ring-shank nails or staple gun and staples, yardstick*, paper*, scissors*, jigsaw*
  • Using self-leveling compound: Border for threshold, white glue, large brush, knee pads, power stirrer, plastering trowel, sanding block
  • Laying floating tongue-and-groove flooring: Underlayment, vapor barrier* or combined vapor barrier/underlay, plastic wedges, wood glue, knocking block, ratchet floor clamp*, cork strip*, edge bead*, threshold strip, finish*
  • Gluing tongue-and-groove boards on concrete: Wood adhesive, adhesive, adhesive spreader, sponge, cloths, concrete blocks, wood finish*, edge bead or cork strip*, threshold strip
  • Laying nailed tongue-and-groove flooring: Pry bat; broom, self-leveling compound*, vapor barrier*, heavy-duty drill + bits, frame attachments, level, furring strips, wood wedges, board nailer*, finish*, threshold strip
  • Laying parquet tiles: Wood, adhesive spreader, adhesive, jigsaw*, pry bar, cork strips*, threshold strip, sealant*
  • Laying clip-together flooring: Vapor barrier*, underlayment, or combined vapor barrier/underlayment, masking tape, plastic wedges, wood glue*, knocking block, pry bar, wood offcut*, jigsaw*, cork strip*, edge bead*, threshold strip, pipe cover*
  • Laying jute backed carpet: Tackless stripping, underlayment, carpet knife, staple gun, carpet bolster, knee kicker, threshold strip
  • Laying foam backed carpet: Underlayment*, carpet knife, double-sided tape, threshold strip
  • Laying vinyl: Vinyl cutter*, spray adhesive/double-sided tape, threshold strip
  • Laying hard floor tiles: Spacers, knee pads, wood furring strips, metal square*, floor attachments, adhesive, adhesive spreader, level, score-and-snap cutter, electric cutter*. grout, grout spreader, grout shaper, mild detergent, sponge, threshold strip
  • Laying soft floor tiles: Sponge, straight edge, rolling pin, wood offcut, paper*, scissors*, profile gauge*, adhesive*, adhesive spreader*, paintbrush*, sealant*, threshold strip
  • Sanding a floor: Drum sander + paper, edging sander + paper, corner sander + paper, broom, vacuum, finish + brush or cloth

* = optional

Thursday, February 27, 2020 12:09 PST