DIY help: Celebrity builder Tommy Walsh on how to lay a hardwood floor

October 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM 1 comment

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Celebrity builder Tommy Walsh is sharing his DIY tips and hints exclusively with

This week he shares his tips for laying a hardwood floor.

1. Measure the floor space accurately before purchase, and allow 10% extra for mistakes or accidental damage.

2. Try to avoid overlaying existing floors. If you do lay over existing flooring, either remove the skirting or cut a slot for the new flooring to fit under, while the skirting’s still in position. Always allow a gap all around the room of 10-15mm between flooring and wall to allow for expansion and contraction. The skirting will cover the gap.

3. Ensure whatever you’re fixing the new flooring to is flat and level (whether it is floor joists, old flooring , or plywood sub-floor).  Flooring should be fixed secretly through the tongue using a  porta-nailor (which you can hire).  This allows you to fix the floor securely without the fixings being visible.

4. Open three or four packs of flooring at a time and select boards randomly from them in case there are any slight variations, this way you won’t see them in the finished floor.

5. Floor nails are specially designed for the job, and come in three main sizes: 1 ½“ ; 1 ¾” and 2”.  Nail size is generally not a problem when fixing to joists, but when fixing to an overlaid floor, or fixing to plywood, pipework in the floor void may be compromised.  Always check the fixing nails won’t pierce the sub –floor beforehand.

6. Noise pollution from hardwood floors can be a major issue for your property neighbours if you live in a non-purpose built flat, particularly in Victorian-style conversions.  In these cases, you may have to invest heavily in sound proofing the floor, and create a floating floor which is glued together onto a sound proof underlay membrane.  Seek expert advice.

7. If renewing suspended ground floor flooring to make the ground floor warm, install blown polyurethane insulation cut between the joists supported on roofing battens, fixed to the sides of the joists, allowing air circulation to continue uninterrupted underneath. Also, never block the air vents to avoid draughts.  It could have disastrous consequences for the floor, with rot and infestation if the natural air flow is interrupted.

8.  I would recommend using wide engineered pre-finished flooring to fulfil your dreams, and also do a bit for the environment!

*To see more DIY tips, products and deals visit Trades Supermarket.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ryan  |  December 14, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Very helpful tips. I would add that if you have underfloor heating fitted, you look at hardwood that can withstand the heat, typically engineered wood rather than the more common solid wood.


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