Can A DIYer Lay A Wood Floor?

August 28th 2018


Written by Chris Shelper

As with many things the answer to whether a DIY enthusiast can lay a wood floor is – it depends! There are 3 key factors:

  • How skilled you are
  • What pattern / design you want to create
  • How much time you have

That said laying a wood floor is a job you can do yourself. If you’re on a budget and have the time, or if you want the satisfaction of being able to say you did it, it’s a great project to take on.

You’ll need some basic DIY skills and tools. If you’re not particularly experienced you might want to do some smaller projects before you tackle a floor, but if you’re a practical person there’s no reason why you can’t.

It’s probably best not to try to lay a complex wood floor such as a geometric design or Herringbone floor unless you’re confident in your abilities. But if you plan to lay the planks end-to-end, parallel to each other, it’s pretty straightforward.

Finally, consider if you have the time to complete this project. It can be disruptive as you will need to empty your room of all furniture, remove skirting boards, doors etc. and it’s likely it will take you longer than getting a carpenter or flooring specialist to lay it for you. But if time is on your side, let’s get started!

Here’s what you need to know:

How to Lay Solid Wood Flooring

  • When you take delivery of your wood planks they will need to be acclimatised (your supplier will advise for how long) and you’ll need to decide which direction you are going to lay them in. If you’re fixing them directly on to the floor joists they will have to run at a 90° angle to them, which makes this decision easy!
  • Next remove the skirting boards using a crowbar (place a wooden or cork block between the wall and crowbar to avoid damage), and remove any inward-opening doors.
  • Vacuum and clean the subfloor. If you’re laying onto concrete check it’s level and sound. If not, fix a level chipboard or plywood subbase on top (screwing it into the concrete). If you’re using underlay or putting underfloor heating down (underneath an engineered wood floor), now’s the time to do it.
  • Position plastic spacers along the longest and straightest wall. This is the wall you’ll be working off and spacers will provide the correct expansion gap of around 12mm between the wood and the skirting as you work.
  • Fix the first row of planks! Some boards have tongue-and-groove edges so make sure the groove is facing the wall and start from a corner. Nail or glue depending on how you have decided to fix the planks and make sure the expansion gap (your spacers) runs around the whole room, that means the ends of the planks as well as the sides.
  • Move onto row 2. Start at the end of the last row, where you cut the plank to fit the wall. The joints at the end of each board should be a minimum of 100mm apart and stagger the end joints of the adjacent rows by around 30cm. Tighten each joint with an edge block.
  • If there are pipes in your room mark the position on the plank that is being laid around it, drill a hole about 5mm larger than the diameter of the pipe, and make two saw cuts running from the edge of the plank to the sides of the hole. Fit the plank into position and glue the off-cut back into place behind the pipe.
  • The width of the final row will probably be narrower than previous rows, unless your room is exactly the right dimensions, so these planks will need to be cut to size. Measure the gap between the penultimate row and the wall, deduct the expansion gap (12-15mm) and saw the planks to fit. Fix the joints and force into place. 
  • Remove the spacers, fit threshold strips in doorways and if necessary shave off doors and doorframes so the planks fit underneath. Refit the skirting if you have it, or fit scotia trim around the perimeter of the floor to cover the expansion gaps.
  • Now relax and enjoy your new wood floor!

For more advice visit our showroom at Garsington, Oxfordshire. Click here for details.