How to install engineered herringbone oak flooring

A helpful guide

We recommend that the installation of engineered Herringbone oak flooring is carried out by a professionally trained wood floor fitter, or a competent person with suitable experience.

Each professional or experienced fitter will have their own installation techniques, and each property and installation will require a different approach to the next.

Depending on the local environment and the property, each floor will enjoy its own characteristics once fitted. Whilst we can’t cover every aspect, here are some useful general guidelines.

Suitability of Herringbone Oak Flooring

Engineered Herringbone oak flooring can be used in most rooms in your home.  It can withstand moderate changes in temperature and humidity, so, in addition to everyday living spaces, it can also be used in kitchens, conservatories and rooms with large amounts of glazing.

Suitable for:

  • Most domestic applications such as living rooms, dining rooms, hallways, bedrooms, landings, conservatories, children’s play areas and home offices.
  • Most commercial applications such as offices, reception areas, meeting rooms and board rooms.
  • Underfloor heating (please see separate guidelines.)

Unsuitable for:

  • Rooms that have excessive fluctuations in moisture, humidity or temperature such as bathrooms, utility rooms, cellars, basements, wet rooms or saunas.

Site Conditions

The building must be weather-tight, the heating system working, and all ‘wet’ trades (plastering, painting etc.) must be completed and fully dry. All guttering and rainwater goods must be properly fitted and fully functional. All windows and doors must be glazed, sealed and fully functional.

At the time of delivery, installation, and thereafter, room temperature would ideally be between 18oC to 20oC, and relative humidity between 45% to 55%.

Storage on site of pre-packed standard profile flooring

Once you have received delivery of pre-packed engineered floorboards, the packs should be taken indoors immediately and stacked in the room where they are to be installed to acclimatise. Packs should be stacked flat horizontally (not on edge) in the centre of the room. The boards should not be removed from their packs, however the ends of the packs can be opened to assist air flow.  To assist air flow further, spacers can be placed between the packs. Use wooden spacers which are long enough to span the full width of a pack. Use at least three spacers per running metre so that the weight is evenly distributed. Ensure the spacers are identical thickness, and that packs are not in direct contact with the sub-floor. Leave to acclimatise in the room for at least 3-4 days prior to installation.

Sub-floors (i.e. the existing floor over which the flooring is being fitted)

Sub floors must be flat, dry and clean.  If you have an uneven sub-floor, your oak flooring will not sit on top correctly.  The entire sub-floor must be flat.  Any unevenness of more than 3mm needs to be addressed.  On a concrete sub-floor, ridges and dips can be smoothed out using a self-levelling compound.  On a wooden sub-floor, you can line the surface with 18mm plywood board or thicker.

Wooden sub-floors such as ply, OSB, chipboard or floorboards should have a moisture content of no more than 14%. This can be measured with a moisture meter.

Concrete sub-floors should have a moisture content no higher than 3%. This can be measured with a hygrometer.

Expansion provision

Hardwood flooring is kiln dried to a moisture content of 9% to 11% prior to despatch. As local conditions vary in each property, the moisture content of wooden flooring will fluctuate depending on the heat and humidity. Floorboards, therefore, contract and expand during their life (however we are generally unaware of this happening).

It is essential that an expansion gap of at least 15mm is left around the perimeter of the room, and around any obstructions such as columns, radiator pipes, door casings, hearths etc. and in doorways between rooms. In rooms larger than 10m x 8m, and in rooms which are subject to regular fluctuations, it may be necessary to provide larger expansion gaps. Expansion gaps can be covered with a variety of solid skirting or trims. It is essential that the natural movement of the boards isn’t impeded.

Fitting methods

Engineered Herringbone oak flooring can be mechanically fixed to the sub-floor with nails or glue. It cannot be fitted directly to joists or battens.

Secret nailing

Ensure that your wooden sub-floor (ply, OSB, chipboard or floorboards) is at least 18mm thick, and is flat and level. Ensure that there is no flex or movement in the sub-floor.

Secret nail to wooden sub-floors at an angle of 45o through the shoulder of the tongue using lost-head nails. Be sure to punch the nail head below the surface of the tongue. Nail length should be approx. twice the thickness of the floorboard. Professional fitters will use specialist nailing devices. If nailing to existing floorboards, fit the new boards at 90′ or to them, as both floors can move! Nail every 200mm.

Stick Down

It is good practice to apply a liquid damp proof membrane (DPM) over concrete sub-floors which are to have floorboards stuck down to them.

Use a permanently elastic Polymer glue system. Only spread as much glue as you can cover within the curing time of the glue, and always follow the glue manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure that all of the joints are tight.

Installation of pre-packed engineered Herringbone oak flooring

Take the boards out of the packs immediately before installation; draw from at least 3 packs to ensure a good colour/grade mix which is to your liking and repeat this process as the floor is laid.

Preparation and precise row alignment are essential when laying a Herringbone pattern. Always verify measurements and check row alignment frequently to ensure an accurate and even pattern is consistent across the room. Failing to do so may cause stepping between boards and a break down in the desired pattern.

Determine which way you’d like the pattern to flow throughout the room.

Preparation

Once the direction of your pattern is decided, mark a centre line across the floor in the same direction the pattern will flow. Dry fit two boards onto the centre line so that the outer and inner of the 90′ corner are on the centre line. Mark guide lines to the left and right of the centre line, directly in line with the inner corner of each board end.

Fitting the first rows

Dry fit at least two rows of boards to ensure that the pattern is correct, and the floorboards are perfectly aligned to the guide lines. If you are happy, fix these rows.

If sticking down, allow the adhesive to cure before continuing with the installation.

Installing the main floor area

You can now continue with the installation of the main floor area.

Work your way across the room, always ensuring that the corners are aligned with the guide lines on the sub-floor, and that each joint is a tight fit. Low tack masking tape can be applied to the tops of the boards if the boards move during stick down installations.

Filling in the gaps

Once the majority of the floor has been installed, begin cutting boards in around the perimeter of the room. Work around the room and measure each board individually. Use a straight edge to mark your line, and cut using a sharp saw.

Remember to maintain an expansion gap against the walls.

A few more thoughts

Oak flooring is a natural product. Each board is unique, and, depending on grade, may have knots, sapwood and colour variation which are not preferred by customers. Unwanted natural defects can be cut out during installation and the resultant cut boards can be used at the end of rows.

We would recommend that an additional 10% of the floor area is purchased to allow for boards which are rejected due to their appearance, and wastage resulting from the removal of unwanted natural defects.