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Installation Guide General Information for Wood/Vinyl Floors

General Guidelines (not to be used in lieu of manufacturers instructions)

You will find detailed and specific manufacturers’ installationinstructions within the links above. It is important to carefully check andadhere to these instructions when installing your new floor.

Below you will find some general information and useful hints and tips for selecting and installing your new floor. These guidelines are not be usedin lieu of the manufacturers’ instructions and only offer general advice.

Pre Delivery Conditions

Before any materials are delivered to site all wet trades such asplastering, decorating and concreting / screeding should be complete and theworking areas should be left to dry out. Areas should be watertight andhospitable.


All flooring should ideally be acclimatised where it is being installed;the packs of material should be left unopened and laid flat (preferably in thecentre of the room away from walls), and the conditions should mirror thosethat will prevail following installation.

As a guide solid wood will take 7-10 days to acclimatise. Engineered /laminate products will require only 24-48 hours.

While acclimatising, the flooring should lie horizontally and flat atthe ideal relative humidity level of between 45 -55%. The room should be dry,if the building is a new building with a concrete floor, wait until the flooris completely dry. The flooring should be laid at a minimum room temperature of 15c and a maximum of 22c.

The greatest possible care is taken to produce your floor. However, we advise you to check the boards for visible defects such as damage and deviations in shape or dimensions. No complaints regarding thesevisible defects will be considered after the boards have been laid. Make sure you have good lighting while laying the floor.

Sub-floor preparation

Sub-floors tend to be either concrete or cement screeds, existing floorboards or joists and batons.

Keep in mind the acronym LCD: Level, Clean and Dry!Level, Clean and Dry are the holy trinity of subfloor preparation, irrespective of whether you’re fitting over existing floorboards, plyboard, or concrete.

Level: Obvious, but important! Your Subfloor should notdeviate more than 3mm in depth over a 2m length.

Clean: Less Obvious, but still important. Dust, Dirt andDebris create an uneven surface which can play havoc with adhesives and affectyour flooring once it’s laid.

Dry: Even less Obvious, and often esoteric. Moistureissues are the commonest cause of flooring failure. You’ll need tothink about Moisture Content and Relative Humidity. Moisture Content measuresthe quantity of water in a material and is typically expressed as a percentage.Relative Humidity measures the amount of water vapour in air as a percentage ofthe amount needed for full saturation at a given temperature. The formulas forcalculating these measurements are intimating, but handy gadgets, particularlyfrom the likes of Tramex, can calculate these for you.

Concrete or Cement Screeds

If you’re planning to put wood flooring in a ground-floor area, it’smore than likely that you’ll be fitting onto a concrete subfloor.

Be very cautious about laying wood flooring on top of a recently laidscreed! As the screed dries it releases will cause affect your wood floor.Screeds can take a surprisingly long time to dry. A good rule of thumb is toallow one day per millimetre of screed depth. You can use a Concrete MoistureMeter to take a moisture content reading. If your screed has a moisture contentof more than 4% it’s not ready to fit your Wood Flooring over.

A drying screed can also affect the relative humidity in a room! Use adigital protometer or a surface mounted hygrometer to take your measurements.Wood Flooring is happiest in a relative humidity of between 45% and 55%. It’s agood idea to take a relative humidity reading even if you don’t have a dryingscreed to worry about!

If you have a moisture content or a relative humidity issue a damp proofsystem, or a sheet-type moisture or vapour barrier should be considered.

If your screed isn’t level because of cracking or sinking you can use aself-levelling compound, process known in the trade as ‘latexing’ because thelatex contributes to the flexibility of the compound. You should make sure thescreed is clean and free of dust and debris and ‘primed’ before applying thecompound. Once you applied enough layers of the compound to level the areait’ll take approximately 24 hours to dry.

Once the screed is level and dry you have two different fittingoptions: Floating and Gluing.

Existing Floorboards

If you’re fitting your wood floor over existing floorboards, rememberthat these must be fixed down, secure, level and in a good general condition.Again, if there is a deviation of 3mm in the level of the floor over a 2mlength, we wouldn’t recommend fitting your floor directly over the floorboards.

You must lay your new boards perpendicularly (at a 90-degree angle) tothe original floorboards to ensure they’re stable. If this conflicts with yourinterior plans, you’ll need to fit 6mm plyboard over the original floorboardswhich will provide a fresh surface to lay over.

Moisture in a wooden subfloor can also be a problem. A wooden subfloorshould have a moisture content between 7 – 11% before Wood Flooring can safelybe laid over it.

We’d still recommend having a look at the relative humidity in the room,even with a wooden subfloor. Again, it should measure between 45% and 55%.

If your laying directly onto existing floorboards, you’ll need to usethe Gluing or Secret Nailing installationmethods.

If you have decided to ply over the boards to ensure a level surface youcould fit using the Floating, Gluing or SecretNailing methods.

Joists or Batons

If you’re looking for Wood Flooring in a new-build, a significantstructural restoration or if your existing floorboards are no longer fit forpurpose, you may need to lay your wood floor over the bare joists or batons.

This means that your Wood Flooring will need to be thick enough to beload bearing, known as a ‘structural’ board in the trade. Structural boards areusually between 18mm and 21mm in thickness and benefit from extra stability anddurability (the veneer is usually larger on a structural board), although theytend to be more expensive.

If you’re set on a thinner board because there is a particular finishyou like or because of cost implications, there is another solution. You canlay ‘structural’ 18mm ply over the joists, forming a level surface which youcan lay thinner boards over. This solution tends to significantly raise thefinal floor level, which is something to bear in mind.


Before flooring arrives on site or installation commences, the roomtemperature and atmospheric relative humidity must be stable. All heatingsystems should be commissioned and operating for 2-3 weeks in advance. Where anunder floor heating system is being used we would always recommend the use ofan engineered or laminate floor as opposed to a solid wood floor, as themulti-layered construction offers more stability. It is imperative however thatcompatibility is checked with the specific manufacturer.


All of our products are rigorously checked; however it is importantthat every board or item is checked for defects prior toinstallation – there is nothing more frustrating than installing your floor tofind an imperfect board in the middle; often with a little care and thoughttransit-damaged or imperfect boards can often be utilised in edge or perimetercuts to avoid delaying the installation works.

Laying Direction

The normal laying direction for wood and other plank-type floor systemswould be along the length of the room and if possible towards the direction oflight.

Selecting the correct floor

Before preparing the base or installing your new flooring, you can makelife easier by selecting the correct product:

  • Laminate Floors

Laminate floorssimulate the appearance of real wood. Its surface appearance is determined by adecorative foil that is coated with a tough transparent wearing layer fordurability. The core is normally constructed from a HDF type product.

Generally theseproducts can be laid as a floating floor system using an approved underlay andvapour barrier over most bases, providing that they are sound, smooth, solid,even, and free from moisture. These products feature jointing systems and areeasy to use and install. Laminate floors will not be load bearing.

  • Engineered Floors

Engineered floorsare our most popular selling range of products, constructed from multiplelayers of wood and compressed together with a real wood top layer, varying inthickness from approximately 3mm-6mm, with an overall board thickness of14-22mm.

Engineered floorsare available in a wide variety of species, and are a very stable and durablefloor, typically with a clic-lock, glueless joint system.

Generally theseproducts can be laid as a floating floor system using an approved underlay andvapour barrier over most bases (providing that they are sound, smooth, solid,even and free from moisture). Some thicker engineered boards (18-22mm thick)can be installed in a similar fashion to solid boards by either secret nailingor by approved stick down methods. These floors are suitable for all areas ofthe home but not normally in bathroom-type areas.

Engineered floorsless than 18mm thick will not be load bearing. Floating systems also give theopportunity to select an underlay to suit your requirements.

Most engineeredsystems can be installed over under floor heating (always check this with themanufacturer). These products feature jointing systems and are easy to use andinstall.

  • Solid Wood Floors

Solid wood flooringoffers a traditional choice. It looks beautiful and will last for generations,with a great feel underfoot. This product is typically available with a traditionaltongue and groove-type joint.

Solid wood floorsare usually installed using the following methods: secret nailing, fullyadhered, liquid batten-type adhesive or self-adhesive underlay systems.

Generally thenailing methods are used over wooden bases and the adhesive / underlay systemsare used over concrete-type bases.

Products should be fully acclimatised prior to installation.

Bases should besound, smooth, solid, even and free from moisture.

Our solid woodfloors are not suitable for use in bathroom areas orfor use over under floor heating.

We would normallyrecommend that the installation of a solid wood floor is completed by anexperienced tradesman.

  • Luxury Tiles

Luxury Tileproducts are installed using the full stick down method with an approvedadhesive. They can be installed in almost any area and are extremelydurable.

Subfloorpreparation is the key to a perfect finish and all bases should be sound,smooth, solid, even and free from moisture. Sub-floor preparation of a goodstandard is imperative, and we would recommend that installation is completedby an experienced tradesman.

Installation Techniques

Floating Floors

Floating a floor essentially means that the new boards are loose-laidover a suitable underlay instead of being screwed, nailed and/or stuck to thesubfloor. A floating floor can be installed over various bases includingconcrete, existing wooden floors and ceramic tiles, providing that the base issound, solid, dry and even. Soft floorcoverings such as carpets or carpetunderlays should be removed. The underlay should be laid with a suitable tapefor the joints; we would normally recommend the use of an underlay thatincorporates a vapour barrier or damp proof membrane, used in conjunction witha vapour tape.

Starting in the corner of the room lay the first row of flooring withthe tongue and groove or clic-lock system facing the wall, do not forget toallow the required expansion gap. Ensure that the boards are tightly jointed orglued together, using a tapping block or pulling iron. The offcut from thefirst row can then be used to start the next row, providing it is of anadequate size. To get the best appearance and performance from your floor it isbest to stagger the joints by at least 300mm. Never use excessive force and ifnecessary remove the board and check for debris in the joint.

A perimeter expansion gap will always be required; this can be coveredby a scotia moulding or skirting board.

Nailing down Floors

A traditional tongue and groove wooden floor can be secret nailed overan existing timber sub-floor (subject to it being the required thickness) orfixed directly to joists to provide a finished structural floor. Buildingregulations require a structural floor to be at least 18mm in thickness. Whennailing, the subfloor or batten should be of an appropriate width and thicknessto retain a 50mm fixing when fired at a 45 degree angle; normally via aPorta-Nailer or similar machine. Joists or battens should be kiln dried andspaced in accordance with building regulations at approximately 250mm-300mmcentres. Where required, a polythene damp proof membrane can also be usedbeneath the battens or a bitumen backed lining paper can be used over the top,with an overlap of 200-300mm. Flooring should be installed at 90 degrees to thesubfloor; fixings should be no more than 400mm apart. Adhesive should notbe used to glue the joints with this method. It is possible to have header jointswhich are not over a joist providing the boards either side are fully spanningthe joists. A perimeter expansion gap will always be required; this can becovered by a scotia moulding or skirting board. Care should also be taken whennailing floors where pipes and services are running underneath.

Sticking Down your Floor

A traditional solid oak board and some engineered boards can be fixeddirectly to the subfloor with an approved adhesive. These specialised adhesiveswill hold the boards firmly in place and allow for the necessary expansion andcontraction. The adhesive should be applied using a suitable sized notchedtrowel and spread evenly on the subfloor. It is essential that there is a fullbond to each board to ensure maximum stability. We would always recommend thatfully adhered floor installations are completed by an experienced tradesman.Never use additional wood glue on the joints when using this method.

A perimeter expansion gap will always be required; this can be coveredby a scotia moulding or skirting board.

Important Note:

Guidelines offer general advice only and are not be used in lieu of themanufacturer’s instructions

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