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The Floating Method – Fitting an Oak Floor

Fitting Guidelines the floating method

Celtic Character Rustic Oiled engineered oak The floating method of laying an oak floor is for engineered oak flooring only. The floating method does not fix the flooring down to the surface beneath but rather relies on the characteristics of the multi layered engineered oak that prevent it from bending or warping and the tongue and groove connections between the boards to create a solid flat floor. The flooring sits upon a membrane which cushions the surface slightly and allows for any seasonal expansion across the whole flooring surface.

Prepare Oak Floor Boards For Fitting

As with all flooring projects order enough flooring to allow for a little wastage. You must let your flooring acclimatise to the temperature and humidity in the space where it’s going to be laid. It is important that the flooring has a chance to sit at the relative temperature within the room, test with a moisture meter and proceed when both readings are consistent over a period of three days. The relative humidity should be ideally between 35% and 60%.

Preparing Your Room for Fitting Using the Floating Method

Cut all skirtings, doorframes and architraves at the bottom to the depth of your floor so that the floor can be fitted under them. Use a flooring board as a depth guide.

After it has been decided which direction the boards will travel, generally running along your room’s longest side, measure the width of your room and divide the result by the width of your floorboards. From this you can find out how many floorboards you will be laying by width. There will be a part board left over, if its width is less than a quarter of a board’s width you will need to make both the first board and the last board in the room a part board to even up. This is important for both the look and the strength of the finished floor.

Lay Out the Underlay

Novostrat gold

Now layout your underlay, preferably one with a damp proof membrane like Novostrat Sonic Gold Excel, taping the joints.

Laying the Floor Out

Work from 4 or 5 boxes when you start laying your floor to ensure that you maintain an even mix of colours. Lay down the first 3 rows without glue and use plastic wedges to maintain 1.5mm expansion gap between the boards. Cut out any defective parts of the boards to use as start and end pieces in your runs. Joint spacing should be random and no closer than 200m to the joints in the next row. Once the boards are in place use a string line to ensure that they are all straight and adjust at the wedges until they are.

Gluing Your Floating Engineered Oak Floor Together

osmo uk box of wood glue

Lift up your three rows and stack together in order so that they can be replaced in the same order when you glue the joints. Put your first board in place making sure that you have a sufficient expansion gap between it and the wall. Apply joint glue in a constant bead to the underside of the groove along the length of the board and on the end of the next board. Line up the boards and tap them together using a tapping block of at least 300mm long. Always tap against the tongue and not the grooved part of the board.

Complete your first three boards and wipe off any excess glue with a damp cloth immediately. Check again with your string line. Allow the glue on these first three rows to dry for 45 minutes. This provides a solid base from which to work when laying the rest of your floor. Measure your last board allowing for the expansion gap. Glue and wedge the board in place to allow the glue to set the floor.

Finishing Up

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 engineered oak floor is a natural product and will expand and contract with temperature and climate changes. Avoid large and drastic temperature changes as these will shorten the floor’s life span. Look after your engineered oak floor and it will last for many years.


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