A guide to installing engineered wood flooring, including the costs involved and everything you need to know before doing it yourself.
Installing engineered wood flooring is considered to be a sizable task that requires some tools that may not be found in a general toolbox, and needs a good level of DIY expertise to complete it. Therefore, it is a job that shouldn’t be tackled by an amateur DIY enthusiast unless they feel competent to do so.
Most variances of engineered wood will cost on average between £30 square metres to £90 square metres. So, the size of the floor will be a significate cost factor for the entire job.
To hire a joiner or carpenter, you can expect to pay £90 to £150 per day on average for labour. It typically takes 1-2 days to lay, all depending on the size of the floor.
The installation of engineered wooden flooring can add significant value to your home and is a worthwhile exercise to carry out. It will require the emptying of a room to allow full access to the flooring, removal of the old flooring, potential cleaning up of the underflooring, and the fitting of new flooring to a good standard to be able to capitalise on its fitment as a home improvement.
Fitting new flooring of this nature, depending on the size of the job, can take several days to complete, and ideally requires the sub-flooring to be flat, solid, and free from imperfections. However, you won’t know the state of the underflooring until you have removed the old floor, and if significant patch-up work is required, this could add as much as two days to your projected installation time. Your new flooring should also be taken into your home to acclimatise for several days before installation, and this too should be built into your time budget.
The removal of the entire floor in even a moderately sized room will create significant waste materials, and this should be kept in mind as it will have to be disposed of in the right and most ecologically-friendly way.
Real wood flooring is a high-quality product that needs to be treated in the right way both before fitting, and once it is in place. Because engineered wood flooring is a natural product, it needs to become conditioned to the climate of your home before it is fitted. This is called the Acclimatisation Period. Even though more stable than solid wood flooring, engineered wood floors will still move slightly, so it is best to let your engineered wood floor ‘settle’ into its new environment before you fit it. It is recommended that you allow a minimum of seven days between receiving your floor and fitting it to allow for this acclimatisation period.
You should store your lengths of flooring in the room in which you are going to install them, remembering not to stand the planks on their ends as this can cause them to bow causing permanent and irreversible damage. The flooring length should be laid flat on the existing floor while they acclimatise, though they can be left in their packaging during this period.
Starting your flooring is the most important part of the process. Once the old flooring has been removed, and the area thoroughly cleaned, fitting the new flooring is fairly easy. You need to decide which orientation you want the new flooring to go in – as a general rule, it should either follow natural light paths or be longitudinal to the longest wall in the room – and roll out the underlay in the opposite direction and ensure that it is free from ripples and bumps.
Engineered wood flooring should always be fitted so that the ends are staggered, and this might mean cutting individual boards so that the second row starts halfway up the first row, and so on. This will not only be more aesthetically pleasing but will make the floor less likely to bow if a sideways force is applied to them.
Place the first plank in the corner of the room, with 10mm spacers between it and the wall on the two sides adjacent to the wall. This will give an expansion gap that the floor will need to prevent bowing as the temperature changes. The ‘tongue’ should also be facing the wall to allow the next plank to slide into the groove. Add the next plank so that its tongue slips into the corresponding groove on the short side of the plank, again, using spacers between the long edge and the wall. Continue in this way until you finally need to cut a plank to fit the remaining length to finish the run. Cut an extra 10mm off the desired length to allow for expansion. Use the off-cut piece to start your next run of planks so that they are off-set by around half a plank, and start the third run with a new plank.
Once you have reached the opposite wall, you should once again leave a 10mm gap to allow for expansion. The 10mm gaps which will appear all around your flooring can be hidden by using lengths of Scotia.
Flooring does not get changed very often, so the sub-flooring may have suffered significant decay since the last floor type was laid down. Once the old flooring has been removed, you should thoroughly clean and inspect the floor for any imperfections that may lead to lasting damage to your new floor, and repair those before the new covering goes into place.
With the old flooring removed, it becomes an ideal time to rub down and repaint features such as skirting boards, and other woodwork close to the floorboards, which may become marked or damaged were they to be in place.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding installing engineered wood flooring.
Engineered wood flooring is both elegant to look at, and relatively hardwearing and will add significant value to your home. It is also allergen safe.
Generally, yes, and the type of underlay can vary the type of flooring and the sub-floor and why you want to fit it. Underlay can vary between simple fibreboard to cope with uneven surfaces to reducing sound. You will need to determine what type of underlay is appropriate for your situation.
Yes, engineered wood flooring is liable to move slightly with temperature changes, and if there is no expansion gap to take this up, the floor will distort. You can hide the expansion gap next to your skirting with a scotia at the end.
No, these are not all scratch-resistant, factors such as the surface finish and wood species can affect the wear resistance of the floor massively. Wood floors with a multi-layered polyurethane finish tend to be harder wearing but can still suffer damage fairly easily, so be careful with them.
As a general rule, the answer is no. The danger of using solid wood on underfloor heating is the likelihood that it will cup or bow, this is most certainly true of new wood and especially true if the new wood is over 180mm wide.