Fancy giving floor laying a go? If you’re a competent DIYer and have the right tools and prep, it’s an achievable project. Read through our step-by-step guide before you begin to be in with the best start.
  1. Preparation
  2. Tools
  3. Fitting
  4. Finishing touches: radiator pipes

1. Preparing for a new wood floor

First, remove old floor coverings and all furniture from the room.

While your sub-floorboards are exposed, take the opportunity to run cables for telephones or sound systems, as it’s hard to do this once the new floor is fitted.

Ensure the floor is clean and dry. Hammer in any protruding nails and fix any loose or squeaking floorboards.

Check whether you will need to plane your door by laying a piece of your new flooring, flooring underlay and any leveller board that you will use underneath it and opening it all the way.

Next, remove the door and, if possible, remove skirting boards from the room.

Mark off the thickness of your leveller board, underlay and laminate on the architrave (frame) around the door. Use a flat saw to remove architrave below the mark so you can slide the flooring in underneath it.

Check manufacturer instructions to find out whether you need to leave your laminate or flooring planks to acclimatise in the room, and whether you should remove any packaging before you do so.

2. Assemble your tools

You will need:

  • A tape measure, carpenter’s square and pencil for measuring and marking boards.
  • Laminate fitting tools including a pull bar, wedges and a tapping block.
  • A decent handsaw for trimming lengths and a jigsaw for cutting along the length of a plank (use one with a blade that cuts on the down stroke to avoid damaging the top layer.
  • A hacksaw and drill with spade bit for dealing with radiator pipes.
  • A coping saw if you need to cut out intricate shapes.
  • A flat saw is good for trimming architrave.

3. How to fit a new wood floor

Lay the floor planks end to end, running from the strongest source of light.

Work from the furthest corner towards the door.

If there are significant changes in the level of the floor, create an even surface using leveller boards or screed. Height variations should not exceed 2-3mm per metre.

Fix wooden leveller boards at least every 150mm using ring shrank nails. Lay insulation material, being careful not overlap the edges of either the insulation material or leveller board.

Starting in the corner, lay your first board against the wall. Then, use a wedge or spacer to create an 8-14mm expansion gap in front of the wall. Take your second board and carefully fit it to the free end of the first board. Use a hammer and tapping block to create a firm fit between tongue-and-groove boards.

Fit subsequent boards until there is less than one board length left until the end of the wall.

Place your next board parallel to the first row, so that it butts up to the wall (with a wedge in between). Use a pencil to mark where the free end of the board that has already been installed meets the plank that needs to be cut down. Use a carpenter’s square and pencil to mark the board for cutting.

Cut the board with the photograph side upwards using a handsaw. Try to cut on the down stroke to avoid damaging the top surface.

Fit the last board, using a pull bar to hammer the joint firmly into place.

Use the off-cut of board to begin the next row – this should ensure that the joints between the ends of boards are staggered.

Continue to lay the boards, using wedges to create an 8-14mm expansion gap around the room.

When you get to the final row, you may find that the width of the board must be trimmed to fit your room. Use a jigsaw to trim along the length. When measuring, remember to leave an expansion gap up against the wall.

Reinstall skirting boards or apply beading to cover the expansion gap around the edge of the floor. Plane the door to take account of any increase in height.

Install a door bar to hide the expansion gap between rooms.

4. To finish: how to install around radiator pipes

When pipes are end-on to the board

Take a small off-cut that will fit behind the pipe and mark the position of the pipe in that board. Join it to the end of the next board, then use a spade drill bit to drill through the join between the boards in the correct position. Disassemble the two boards and then refit them together, around the pipe.

When pipes are sideways to the board

Mark the position of the pipe on the board and then drill through the board to create the hole for the pipe.

Use a hacksaw with a very fine blade to cut a V-shape from the wall side of the board to the hole. Trim the end off. Fit the board and glue the V-cut back into place. In both cases you need to ensure that you have underlay beneath the board behind the pipe, as well as in front of it.

Use a radiator rose to cover the expansion gap.