Complete All Wet Trades
Wet trades should be complete and fully dried which includes floor screeds and any plastering or rendering. It is important to carry out a relative humidity test or RH test.
Complete Main Decorating
Ideally all other work except some secondary decoration to skirting and architraves should be completed. This will help prevent any damage to the floor. Decorating dust and paint spills are one of the most common causes of damage to freshly laid wood floors, so where possible it is a good practice to complete and clean any sanding. Paint walls and ceilings and limit the risk of any paint spills. Skirting and architrave may have to be completed after the install and tape can be used to mask the floor. Important: Beware of leaving masking tape on the floor for longer than is necessary to complete each coat, tape should be removed between each coat and not left for longer than a day, this is especially important if the floors are heated. Important: Avoid covering the floor with non-breathable ‘protective’ sheeting, which if left on the floor, can cause condensation which in turn will damage the floor.
Complete Kitchen Installation
Where possible any fixed furniture such as a kitchen unit should be installed prior to installing your wood floor. This is recommended for two reasons, the first being the most obvious that it will limit the risk of accidental damage to the floor caused during the kitchen installation. It is important not to cover the floor for extended periods. The second reason not to install heavy fixed units over your floor, is to avoid ‘pinning’ the floor down. A kitchen unit with appliances and a heavy worktop can be very heavy. A heavy load can stop the floor from expanding and contracting evenly. At best this can cause the floor to gap at walls or creak, at worst it can cause the floor to fill an expansion gap and lift off the subfloor completely, even causing structural damage. Kitchen units can be installed first with kick boards adjusted and provisional gaps made in end panels and plinths to slide the floor underneath.
Most importantly the subfloor, the floor on which your flooring is being installed should be fully prepared. It must be structurally supportive and free from any defective movement so that footfall does not cause the floor to move. Exposed joists should be covered with load bearing plywood, OSB or flooring grade chipboard. Floorboards should be fully secured. Concrete screeds and levelling compounds must be fully cured and moisture checked. If levelling is required on a wooden suspended floor or floorboards, this can be achieved by relaying a suspended wooden floor and correcting levels under the structural layer. Or in some cases a layer of flexible fibre based levelling compound may be added. If levelling is required for a screeded floor, raised areas can be removed and or levelling compound can be used. If the subfloor is a combination of screed and suspended floors then it should be equalised with the addition of a fully bonded layer of 6 – 21mm plywood. If it cannot be covered like this then a provision for expansion joints should be used where two different surfaces meet. Transition profiles can be used to separate the two areas of wood flooring.
Underfloor Heating (UFH)
If flooring is being installed over an underfloor heating system, then where possible the UFH should be within a screed or self levelling compound with direct contact to the floor via a flexible adhesive. DO NOT use the UFH system to accelerate a screed’s drying time as this can lead to a weakness in the subfloor. The UFH system must be fully commissioned before installation and in use over a period of two weeks to test for any defects, leaks etc… The UFH system must be turned off 48hrs prior to the installation. The surface of the installed wood floor must not exceed 27°C so it is important to understand how to control the heat source and with discussing this with your UFH provider.
Importantly all these areas should be checked and tests should be carried out by the installer, RH reading should be taken and moisture checks made on the subfloor. Check our more detailed installation guide or ask your installer.
Once Your Flooring Arrives
Your flooring should be carefully placed in the room it is to be installed in. The packs can be very heavy and easily damaged. Stack the packs and leave in situ for at least 72 hrs. The packs are not airtight and should not be opened during this time as the wood acclimates to your home or the site conditions. Once opened you may find that the planks can bow slightly and this is fairly common but should not cause an issue once they are installed in a random staggered pattern.
Before You Use The Room
Before moving furniture in you should allow 24 hrs for the floor to settle. If joints were bonded with PVAC adhesive for a floated installation or if the floor was fully bonded to the subfloor with an MS adhesive both will be fully cured in 24 hrs. If your floor was secret nailed to the subfloor or it was a floated click/locking floor it should still be left for 24 hrs.
Commissioning Oiled Floors
With all types of oiled floor it may be wise to commission the surface with a coat of maintenance oil. This is especially important for oiled floors in high traffic areas such as kitchens or rooms with outside doors. This coat is usually applied by buffing machine which will heat up the surface of the floor and redistribute the existing oils and waxes in the pores of the wood making it far easier to maintain in the future.