Those who know me well know about my love for wood, so the obvious choice for the new flooring in our bedroom was…well, wood of course!
I have written a previous article outlining the differences between solid and engineered wooden floors (you can find it here). However, unlike last time when we opted for solid hardwood floors for our Lyon property, this time around we decided to go for the engineered option.
The main reason behind this choice was that by using the tongue and groove system of engineered woods, which enables each board to be locked into place, meant we would be able to install the flooring relatively easily ourselves, and quickly too (by ‘quickly’, I mean in a day, for a space of approximately 10m2). In addition to the easy installation system, we were also working with a smooth, level floor surface, and so weren’t worried about being left with any hollow, squeaky patches, which can often be a result of ‘floating’ floors and un-level floor surfaces.
But that’s enough of an introduction, here is my 10-step guide to laying Engineered Wood Floorboards –
Make sure that you hoover the floor surface as thoroughly as possible prior to installation, making sure the space is as clean and free of dust as possible;
Ensure you have an appropriate underlay. Not only does this provide the smooth, flexible surface on which your hardwood floors will be installed, but it also protects the floor from moisture damage, ensures soundproofing and helps to level floor irregularities;
Using the underlay’s ‘puzzle’ system, install it across the entire floor surface area, cutting the edges to fit with a Stanley knife;
Tape the joints of the underlay’s ‘puzzle pieces’ together to ensure they remain securely in place;
Taking your wooden planks, begin by placing the first couple rows together in a rough pattern, ensuring that you are working your way in from the door frame. This step is important as it allows you to line up the knots and colours to give your desired effect;
Make sure you lay the boards down with the tongue side facing the rest of the room and leaving a 1cm gap for expansion at either end of the row (as well as the top edge of the first row, and bottom edge of the last row);
Once you are happy with the appearance of the first row, beginning by clipping the groove of the side of each board to fit into the tongue, ensuring each one is correctly fastened and level with its neighbour on either side;
Once you arrive at the edges of the room, it is likely you will need to cut the boards to fit (if you find that your boards fit exactly the length and breadth of your space then you are the luckiest person alive!) Measure the distance between the last laid board and the wall, include the expansion gap, and then cut to fit. When cutting the wood, we found a circular electric saw worked best, giving the most precision.
For the second row, ensure that you use a board at least 6 inches longer or shorter than the first board to stagger the floor for a nicer appearance. Fit the groove into the tongue of the first row and gently use a dead blow hammer to ensure a tight fit.
Continue installing the planks row by row using the above process until you have installed all your floorboards.
Then that’s you finished! Step back and admire your beautiful new floor.
Once you get the hang of the tongue and groove system you will find that you can move pretty quickly. The fiddliest part is cutting the edge planks to size. It is also a good idea to hoover as you go - while you may have a pristine surface at the start of the process, all the clipping and fastening can create tiny wood scraps which might get stuck under the boards for all eternity, creating the dreaded underfoot squeak!
Hopefully the pictures below will help to illustrate the process. My version is simplified down so don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment if you have more detailed questions.