We’re going to have a look at the three recognised methods of oak floor fitting, firstly the glue down method. Read on to find out if this will be your favoured method when fitting your oak floor.
Prepare Oak Floor Boards
The glue down method can be used for both solid and engineered oak flooring and as with any woodworking or building job preparation is key. Let’s assume that you have bought the right quantity of flooring with a level of wastage you’re happy with. Firstly, you must let your flooring acclimatise the space where it’s going to be fitted. It is important that the flooring has a chance to sit at the relative temperature within the room for around a week. The relative humidity should be consistent, ideally between 35% and 60%. Relative humidity can be tested with a Thermo-Hygrometer.
Preparing Your Room for Fitting You Oak Floor
All skirtings, doorframes and architraves need to be cut at the bottom to the depth of your floor so that the floor can be fitted under them creating a clean finish for your room. Use a flooring board as a depth guide. Cut your frame so that the finished floor can slip underneath the cut.
After this has been done you will need to look at your room and decide which direction the boards will travel, generally running along your room’s longest side. This exaggerates the size of the room and makes it flow better. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. When multiple adjoining rooms are to be floored it is a good idea to pick a direction and stick with it throughout the installation.
Once the direction has been decided measure the width of your room and divide the result by the width of your floorboards. You can then determine the number of board widths needed and the width the last length of boards must be cut to. If the width is less than a quarter of a board’s width add this to the width of one full board and divide by two. This will give you equal widths for your first and last boards to balance the look of your room.
Laying the Floor Out
As you begin to lay the floor take your boards from 4 or 5 boxes to ensure that you maintain an even mix of colours on your floor. Make sure that you try to use any board with defects at the start and ends of your runs. Cut defective pieces off where necessary. Lay down the first 3 rows without glue and use plastic wedges to maintain 1.5mm expansion gap between the boards. Make sure your joints between board lengths are random with no joints within 200mm of each other. This will maintain the look and strength of the final product. Pull a string line down the length of your boards to make sure everything is straight. Adjust your gaps if you need to.
Gluing Your Oak Floor Down
Next lift and stack the boards you have laid in order. Do this so that you can replace them in the same position. Now apply your glue to the floor using a notched trowel and place the first board up against the wall against your expansion wedges and into the glue. Apply joint glue to the grooved edge of the board and then locate the tongue of the next board and press in place. Repeat these steps until the first 3 rows that you laid out are in place and glued down. Check your work with a string line to make sure everything is straight. These 3 boards will form the base line from which you continue to lay the rest of the floor. It is imperative that they are straight.
Keep laying your floor making sure to be sparing with the glue and not try to lay too many boards at once as the glue may start to go off before the boards are laid which will result in a poor seal. Lift up a board every so often as you lay to check that you are getting good glue transfer. Make sure to clean excess glue away as you go. It will be really difficult to get off once it has hardened.
Once you get to the last board cut to size down their length allowing for your expansion gap. Add expansion wedges to tighten up the joints and allow the glue to set. When the glue has set remove all of your expansion wedges. Fit any beading, skirting or architrave to cover your expansion gaps and complete your oak floor fitting.
An oak floor will expand and contract with temperature and climate changes. You must take care of your floor and avoid large and drastic temperature changes. As with any timber products extremes of temperature will shorten its life and ultimately cause it to fail. However with careful management your oak floor will last for years to come.