Moisture is the number one cause of problems when it comes to installing wooden flooring. With this in mind it need not be, take the proper procedure to handle it and it will not be a problem. The problem is that a lot of flooring installers do not take this into consideration, and check moisture levels.
What quite often happens is that wood flooring is delivered straight to the job site in the winter. The flooring came from a reputable supplier and the wood was stored in a climate-controlled warehouse. After arriving at the job site delays happen and the wood ends up sitting around for a while. Not knowing the affects on solid wood flooring the temperature is increased by the heating in the building. The flooring is fitted and everything is fine, the next winter the customer rings to say that the flooring has gaps between the boards.
The cause of the problem is that the flooring acclimated to the conditions of winter when it first arrived, when it then acclimated to the hot summer humidity it swelled up and the edges of the board was damaged, the next winter the swelling reduced and the gaps were much larger than they should be.
The best way to avoid this happening is to install the flooring when the moisture content is at a good medium, between the two seasons. The other way to solve the problem would be to not nail the flooring as tight as you normally would and leave “washer rows” to allow some swelling in the winter months without damaging the flooring.
- Make sure any controllable moisture affective work on the house has been completed such as installation of windows and doors.
- Measure the temperature at the job site. It should be at what is considered as normal living conditions.
- Make sure that gutters are in place and correctly installed so that all water drainage is going to go away from the house and not to the foundations as this will increase the moisture.
- Use a good moisture retarder for your wood flooring. If moisture is of real concern to you an engineered wood flooring may be of better suit to you as it is a lot more tolerant to heat and moisture changes.
Prepare the Subfloor
Subfloors should be clean, flat and dry. Not doing so can lead to many problems with the flooring its self. These problems can be seen as loose flooring, squeaky joints, deflection and uneven surface.
The dry part of the Subfloor equations come from the moisture content in the air as discussed in the earlier point “check moisture“. The clean part means that all debris and general dirt from the work site must be clean and cleared away from the subfloor and also that anything that may interfere with the adhesive that is going to be used with the flooring is cleaned off. The floor must be flat to industry standards, subfloors that are not flat enough should be flattened before the flooring is installed. Many problems stem from using an inappropriate sub floor for the flooring used, it is crucial to get this right the first time!
Take the time to layout the room properly
The main aim of this point is to get across that you should not jump straight into the job and start laying the flooring straight away. Take the time to plan out the job exactly.
While it may work for some to just start laying the flooring straight away it can cause major cosmetic problems. As you move from room to room angles can change as rooms are never perfectly square this leads to crooked flooring spreading through the rooms, a slight change in angle from the required 90 can have major consequences leading trouble for the fitters having to trim down flooring and as mentioned earlier the cosmetics of the flooring will be harmed.\
There are many many mistakes that are commonly made when racking flooring here are some common mistakes that are commonly made.
- End joints being too close together is one of them, the ends of the boards should be at least three times the width of the flooring apart.
- H-Joints happen when end rows line up with one row between them.
- Lightning Bolts/Stairsteps are joints that happen in the flooring in even steps for a number of neighboring planks. This often happens when flooring is supplied in even lengths.
A common mistake to make when racking is not to look at the bigger picture of how the floor is panning out and likely to look when it is finished in the current state. This does not just mean the problems described above but it also means observing the wood that is getting laid, for example light and dark planks, after all wood flooring is not going to be perfectly the same since its wood, but who would want it to be anyway.
Since variations can happen between packs it is often a good idea to open up a few packs before you rack and use them at the same time using planks from each box to get some variation.
Not Nailing Enough
Not nailing the floor is a common problem with some floor fitters, often they may only put a few nails in per board or even only nail every other board. Saving cost is most likely their reasoning as the customer can’t exactly see the difference straight away or even see the nails them selves a lot of the time.
The short fall of doing things this way is that the wood flooring will be loose, which will allow them to move around and make a lot of noise when they are walked on.
There is a flip side of this which is of course adding too many nails which can cause cracked tongues and also loose floors this is a problem in oak flooring or any flooring for that matter. The basic rules to nailing is that there should be a minimum of two fasteners per board and that each fastener should be 1 to three inches from the end of the board for. Standard strip flooring the fastening space should be around every 8 to 10 inches and every 4 inches for plank flooring.