In the next few sections, you’ll find instructions for installing the basic types of wood block flooring. Because block flooring is produced in many different forms and can be finished in a variety of ways, it’s important that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
A good wood block floor properly installed will have an exceptionally long life. Taking extra care to do a professional job of installation will pay off, giving you a handsome floor that will require little attention for many years.
Your first step, of course, is to prepare a proper base for your new wood block flooring. If you haven’t already done so, read through Preparing the Subfloor 46, for instructions on preparing various types of subfloors for wood block.
The installation details that follow cover the essential steps common to most block flooring projects.
Plan working lines. No matter how they may look to the naked eye, few rooms are perfectly symmetrical. All flooring sup pliers recommend that you establish working lines independently of the wall lines.
As most flooring manufactured in squares—wood block, ceramic tile, and resilient tile— is laid out in much the same way, working from the center of the room, refer to “How to Establish and Use Working Lines”.
Spreading the adhesive. In planning your wood block installation, take note of the “open time” of the adhesive you will use—the time you’ll have between spreading the adhesive and placing the wood blocks.
When you’re ready to start spreading the adhesive, use a putty knife to transfer some of the adhesive from the container to the spot on the floor where you plan to lay the first block. Holding the notched trowel at a 45-degree angle, spread the adhesive evenly, putting firm pressure on the trowel. You should be able to see your working lines between ribbons of adhesive; if you can’t, take care to spread the adhesive up to, but not over, the chalk lines.
How much adhesive you should spread at any one time will depend on the open time of the adhesive and the pattern you choose to follow in laying the block (see “How to Establish and Use Working Lines”).
Placing block flooring. When laying block flooring, take care to align each block carefully. Minor irregularities can quickly become major problems as you work your way across the floor.
The illustrations that follow use placement sequence A illustrated here. You can adapt these instructions to the other two sequences shown or one suggested by the manufacturer. A step pattern allows you to lay each tile in a corner formed by two others, making it easier to maintain straight lines.
Place the first block at the intersection of the two working lines, aligning the edges (grooved edges if tongue-and- groove block) with the lines. Take special care in placing the first ten blocks; their alignment will determine the appearance of the entire finished floor.
Set the second block against the first, as illustrated. Align it carefully with the first tile and your working lines. If you’re working with flooring that has tongues and grooves, engage them as you put the blocks together—don’t slide the blocks into place. Sliding the blocks will force adhesive into the joints, making it difficult to keep the blocks properly aligned.
Continue placing the blocks in the pattern as shown in sequence A. After you’ve set several blocks, tap them sharply in several places with a rubber mallet to seat them firmly in the adhesive. If any adhesive is forced up between the blocks or tracked onto the floor surface, clean it off immediately with thinner.
By the time you’ve laid several rows of block, it may be necessary to walk or kneel on the newly laid flooring. To keep the blocks from sliding out of position and to prevent adhesive from being forced up between blocks, place pieces of plywood over the new blocks to distribute your weight more evenly.
Trimming blocks to fit walls and obstacles. When you reach a wall or other obstacle, it will probably be necessary to cut individual blocks to fit. Allow for the natural expansion of the wood by leaving a ½-inch gap between the block and the wall; with other obstacles, leave a gap of about 1/16 inch. Some flooring manufacturers supply cork expansion strips to fill the space between the block and the wall; use this material if it’s available.
To cut a block to fit, mark it as shown below; a piece of scrap wood of the right thickness can be used as a spacer. Then use a crosscut or saber saw to trim the block. Cut and set the blocks one at a time as you proceed.
Where it’s necessary to cut off the bottom of the casing around a doorway, use a block for a guide to make the proper cut. Slide the block under the casing to install it.
Where new flooring meets old. If your new flooring will be level with the floor in an adjacent room, the new and old floors should meet under the door. The joint can be hidden with a wood saddle, available from your flooring supplier.
If the new flooring is higher than the floor in an adjacent room, install a reducer strip to adjust the level where the floors meet. This too can be supplied by the flooring manufacturer in the same wood and finish as the block.
Finishing the job. Allow newly installed wood blocks to set overnight—or as long as recommended by the manufacturer. Then replace any baseboards, shoe molding, and grates that were removed. Leave a gap between the moldings and the floor (use a thin piece of cardboard as a spacer). Nail the molding to the baseboards, not to the floor. This will allow for the natural expansion of the flooring. If the floor level has been raised by the new flooring, it may be necessary to trim material off the bottoms of doors before you re-hang them.Fig. 56-1
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