Step One - Choosing your new floor
The first step is choosing your timber floor and there are many factors to consider:
- The desired overall look you wish to achieve
- The amount of wear and tear to the area
- The durability of the timber
- The type of existing sub-floor/preparation needed for the new flooring
- Maintenance and upkeep
- Installation time including sanding and polishing if required.
Step Two - Preparation of sub-floor
The sub-floor needs to be prepared and levelled properly, the methods depend on the type of timber you have selected and the condition of the existing sub-floor.
This can either be installation of floating floors using underlay, timber direct glued down to concrete or existing flooring or installation on plywood.
We highly recommend to put moisture barrier before installation of plywood (for T&G timber flooring) or underlay (for floating floors).
For floating floors, black plastic under underlay is a good option as well.
In order to install your wood floor properly, you need to make sure that your subfloor is perfectly leveled. This can be achieved through either sanding or filing. Another important thing you should focus on is making it perfectly smooth to ensure easy installation. Solid wood should spend at least three days within the room you are planning to install the floor in, so it can acclimate to the temperature and moisture level.
Conduct a visual inspection for signs of moisture possibly resulting from dishwasher leaks, bathroom/laundry overflow problems, pipe leaks, window seal leaks, ceilings leaks or rising damp. You should fix any problems with water access before installation of your flooring.
The subfloor must be dry and free of impurities including but not limited to oil, grease, dust, metal shavings, little stones shringle.
The subfloor is to be fully scraped with a wide blade scraper to remove all cement render spoil, gyprock setting residues and mortar excess at the base of walls.
The subfloor must be tested for flatness. Deformations to the surface greater than 3mm over 3m are to be filled with a self levelling compound following manufacturers’ recommendations. Deviations in the subfloor greater than 3mm over 3m should be ground smooth to conform to the aforementioned specification for flatness.
Timber substrates such as particleboard, plywood or existing timber floors should be sanded to create a clean flat surface. Plywood or particleboard should be a minimum of 5 ply or 12mm.
A concrete subfloor should be moisture tested in accordance with AS1884-1985 to ensure the concrete subfloor has a moisture content (MC) of less than 5.5%. If MC is greater than 5.5%, a moisture seal must be applied as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If the installation is to be a direct stick job, the selected adhesive should be applied to various areas on the subfloor prior to commencing installation, to confirm that suitable adhesion can be achieved.
Timber flooring is not recommended for installation over heated subfloors.
Step Three - Laying the timber
The method used will depend on the type of timber flooring product selected and underlay or sub-floor preparation most suitable.
Timber flooring is a highly specialised area, when a timber floor is laid there are many factors to consider.
Wrong installation of a timber floor can lead to many serious problems. And it is extremely important that a timber floor is laid by a professional layer with experience. If you want to install timber flooring in your house DIY, please read an installation article first and visit our showroom for a professional advise from a timber flooring installer.
Tools & Equipment
You will need to gather all the tools before you start. You will definitely need a saw, spacers, a mallet and some tapping blocks. Having a pry bar is a must, since you will need it to fit the floor boards correctly. Some kind of wood cutting tool is also a necessity as you will need to adjust the lengths of the boards. Naturally, you will need measuring tools. Make sure that you don’t drop your tools on the floor boards since they can scratch and damage it. Use a sheet of cardboard to protect your floor.
The installation process
Timber flooring is installed starting from the longest wall of the room. Make sure you take door jambs into consideration when taking measurements.
Please check material prior to installation. Should there be concerns about the material please ring Zealsea Timber Flooring on (07) 5528 2777
It is also important to note that the most common cause of complaint with timber flooring installations is an uneven subfloor and damage or distortion due to the lack of adequate expansion gaps. Particular care must be taken in preparation and planning to address these issues prior to installation so that the timber flooring is allowed to perform as designed.
Expansion gaps and perimeter fixings should be planned before commencing the job. Expansion gaps are a requirement of timber flooring.
Due to the hygroscopic nature of timber the flooring will expand and contract with changes in moisture content. The allowance of expansion gaps at the perimeter walls and around obstructions will allow the floor to move as required. If sufficient expansion gaps are not allowed for, buckling and deformation of the flooring can result.
We recommend a minimum expansion gap at all perimeter walls and obstructions of 10-14mm. In areas of high humidity and for floors exceeding 8m in width it may be necessary to increase the size of the expansion gaps, and/or include expansion joints within the flooring in order to increase the total expansion allowance for the floor.
Expansion gaps can be readily increased by under cutting plasterboard walls or through the use of thicker skirtings or beading. The greater the expansion allowed while installing, the better.
Expansion joints are best placed at doorways or in line with internal walls. Expansion joints help to break large floors into smaller sections thereby maximising total expansion gaps.
Installation - floating floors (click lock)
Roll out the underlay with the moisture barrier membrane facing down onto your sub-floor in the same direction to which the planks are to be installed with a 150mm overlap
The seam should be sealed off with double-sided tape
THE FIRST ROW: Place the first row of planks against the longest wall with the groove against the wall. Cut the groove (only in the first raw)
Leave a minimum expansion gap of 10mm along the walls, place blocks/wedges along one end to maintain the gap while boards are being
THE SECOND AND THIRD ROWS: The last board in a row will need to be cut to complete the row. The cut piece may be used to start a new
row providing it is a minimum of 150mm in length. If the board is too short start with a new board, cut in half. Insert into the adjacent plank of the first row, push forward and press down at the same time to fully engage the lock, listen for the click. Tape down the first 3 rows of panels to the underlay to minimize movements as you click and join new pieces. Allow 45 cm between the edges of floorboards in different raws.
PULL BAR AND WEDGES: A pull bar is used to close plank ends joints at the end of each row. Wedges are to be used on all three sides/ends where possible to maintain an even expansion gap of at least 10mm around the perimeter of the floor. You may require a small tapping block to be used against the protruding tongue of the plank to tap the plank into place. Place a weight (e.g. a box of planks) on the completed planks to stabilize, continue this method to install the complete floor, remove the wedges.
SEALING: It is recommended that you use a lock-seal for areas exposed to excess moisture, i.e. kitchen around the dishwasher, sink, bath, shower, toilet – this will seal the lock.
FITTING THE LAST ROW: Adjust the width of the planks for the last row, whilst ensuring you do not forget the minimum expansion gap of 10mm.
DOORPOST, PILLRS, ARCHITRAVES: For the neatest detail at vertical impediments, place a piece of a plank on a piece of the underlay flat on the existing floor, and mark the top of this on the vertical article to be shortened. Remove template and cut below marked line until you are able to remove excess material. Clean out all debris.
SERVICE PIPES etc: When installing around pipes etc. cut the planks and loose lay until reaching pip etc. Mark the panel where floor intersects with object ensuring you have allowed for the minimum 10mm expansion as required. Often to fit properly, the plank will need to have been cut at 45 degrees to the surface and when installing will need to be glued together around the impediment.
AFTER INSTALLATION: Remove wedges and packers. Cover the expansion gap with either skirting or other selected molding (quad) by AFFIXING these to the WALL ONLY (never fix the skirting or molding to the floor, the floor needs to expand and contract). Affix aluminium doorway finishing trims to where new flooring and ceramic tiles meet. We recommend using a reducer trim where the flooring meets carpet; this trim is available from the flooring section of all good hardware stores that will be able to advise the method of installing.
FINISHING: You can walk on the floor immediately after installation.
Installation - direct stick method
Conduct the necessary preparation to the substrate as described earlier.
Under-cut door frames if applicable at this point.
Concrete keeps moisture for 25 years. For glue down installation apply moisture barrier Sika Primer MB (part A and B) as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Care should be taken to confirm compatibility between the vapour barrier and selected adhesive.
Plan the location and type of any trims to be installed, as some trims are easier to install prior to installing the flooring.
Set out the first run of floor boards using chalk/ string lines and measuring tools. Alternatively,
lay the boards parallel to the longest wall in the room, leaving a minimum expansion gap of 10-14 mm along all walls. Place 10-14 mm blocks/wedges along one end to maintain the gap while boards are being placed. Be sure to remove wedges upon completion of the installation so that the floor is allowed to expand without restriction.
Using a polyurethane timber flooring adhesive, apply enough adhesive for the first run of flooring as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Care should be taken to ensure glue is applied correctly to prevent variation in sounds from tapping or walking on the floor, squeaking boards or separation of boards.
Check the transfer of adhesive to the boards by inspecting the underside of boards during installation. In order for direct stick systems to perform at their optimum levels it is a requirement that at least 85% transfer of adhesive to board is achieved during installation.
Start the first row of boards with the groove facing the starting wall, remembering to allow at least a 14mm expansion gap. Measure and cut the last board of the first row, remembering to allow at least a 14mm expansion gap. Use the pull tool to tightly fit the last board of the row. It is important to work from five opened boxes so that the full range of colours and features can be mixed within the floor.
Weight or fix first run in place. It is best to allow this first run to set before working against it to minimise any shifting during installation.
Start new rows with a board at least 450mm shorter or longer than the strip used in the previous row. This will prevent end joints from clustering throughout the floor.
Measure and cut the last board to fit, allowing for at least a 10-14 mm expansion joint along its whole length. A pull tool will be needed to fit the last board closest to the wall.
Once laid the boards should be in constant,
firm contact with the adhesive until cured. The application of appropriate weights, such as unopened boxes of flooring, will assist this process.
Excess adhesive should be removed quickly using the appropriate adhesive cleaner – this may vary depending on the adhesive used. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note: For further details regarding the direct stick method refer to adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.
The finishing touches
The expansion gap left between the wall and timber floorboards will need to be covered. This can be covered with an appropriate skirting, which should be nailed to the wall and not fixed to the floor. If timber floor is installed with existing skirtings in place, use a fillet mould or scotia to cover the gap, fixed to the skirting and not the floor.
Upon completion care should be taken to protect the timber flooring from damage during the final stages of construction. Installation of the timber flooring should be completed at the final stage of the project so as to minimise any damage. However, the use of protective sheeting such as MDF (medium density fibreboard) to cover high traffic areas is appropriate where required. Care should be taken when installing the protective sheeting that no loose grit or obstructions get trapped underneath, as these will damage the coating when stepped upon.
Note: DO NOT cover the flooring with plastic sheeting of any kind, as this can cause the floor to sweat, leading to expansion of the flooring and possible damage to the coating.
Step Four - Sanding and coating
Many timber floors now come pre-finished with no sanding and coating required.
Timber floors that require this process are sanded and coats applied, with light sanding in between each coat. Usually an application of 3 coats of varnish is recommended.
Installation of bamboo stairs
StraBamboo flooring is a very good material for stairs, mostly because we can buy bamboo bullnoses with beautiful rounded edges.
Stairs from Engineered Spotted Gum
Sanding and coating of stairs made from T&G solid hardwood timber flooring.
Stairs which are made from T&G raw timber flooring need sanding and coating.
Stairs after sanding and polishing
Timber wall from engineered Spotted gum
How to make a stair bullnose from solid timber flooring
First step is to cut 3-4 cm wide strip from timber floorboard lengthwise, glue timber strip to a full floorboard, back side to back side. Fix with clamps and let it stay in stable condition for about 3 hous, which allowes glue to dry.
In 3-4 hours use router to make a round edge of the bullnose, quite rought and uneven cut though.
Please, click for video here
For making edge smoother use a hand sander.
For video, please click here
Final result is a beautiful timber bullnose with the smooth round edge.
After installation of timber stairs and sanding them, you can finish bullnoses and steps with polyurethane finish at your taste.
Zealsea Timber Flooring Gold Coast