Laying solid wood flooring using the nail down method – Tutorial

This is the oldest method used for laying solid wood flooring. It consists of nailing the flooring down onto battens embedded in the screed at regular intervals. This laying method is only used with solid wood flooring at least 20 mm thick. Where battens are particularly closely spaced, it is even possible to nail down multi-layer core engineered wood flooring of the same thickness. It can even be installed over existing flooring using this method. The use of battens is not always necessary in such cases.

Prerequisites

Your floor installation will be unsuccessful unless certain essential prerequisites are satisfied: storage conditions, site humidity, subfloor humidity, flatness and expansion space.

For more information: Laying wood flooring: understanding the essential prerequisites for a successful installation..

Preparing the subfloor

Equipment required:

- Hammer or nail gun, headless nails, wooden spacers, wood glue, wood filler, meter rule, nail punch, floor scraper, back saw, pull bar

Fixing the battens in place: these can be embedded in plaster, screwed down, nailed down or just left floating, or screwed or nailed onto joists. Align the battens so the flooring will be oriented in the direction of the main light source or the direction the floor will normally be walked across. In larger rooms the flooring strips should run parallel to the longest side.

Ensure battens are all the same level: no more than 2 mm discrepancy between points 20 cm apart; shim as necessary where hollows occur. Supporting battens must be placed at intervals of 30 to 45 cm for wood flooring 20 mm thick or more.

Laying the floor

- Wood flooring strips are fixed in place once the first row has been correctly positioned against spacers, grooved edge towards the wall.

- Lay the first row along the wall, using wooden spacers to leave a gap of about 10 mm between flooring and wall to allow for wood expansion.

- Be careful to nail straight down, close to the skirting at intervals of 40 cm, sinking the nails with a nail punch before filling with wood filler.

- Then nail down the tongue, nailing at an angle then sinking the nails with a nail punch.

- Use 50 mm headless nails and take care not to compromise the joint.

- Continue the row, joining each new strip to the last and coating the edge grooves in wood glue to bond the strips and prevent squeaking.

If it proves necessary to cut a strip when laying the first row, use the cut off piece to begin the next row. The strips’ end joints must be spaced out, with a distance of around 15 cm from one to the next.

If the final strip does not require cutting, count yourself fortunate! If it does, carefully calculate where to saw it, remembering to allow for the 8 mm edge expansion gap.

A pull bar will come in handy when laying the final flooring strip.

Fiber glass, rock or wood fiber based materials can be used for insulation purposes.

Finishing off the installation:

Hide the expansion gaps at the peripheries by installing skirting or beading matching your flooring.

Fill in the places where the flooring has been cut to fit around door frames and pipes.

Adjacent rooms

When laying different varieties of flooring in adjacent rooms, use room thresholds as boundaries, or use junctions between different floor sections where present.

When using the same variety of flooring in adjacent rooms, a decorative effect can be achieved by laying a flooring strip in the opposing direction to the rest of the floor at the threshold between the rooms. It is entirely possible to lay the same flooring across several rooms as a single area, leaving thresholds unmarked, on condition that the flooring is properly parallel to the walls in each room. Where this is not the case, it is better to mark room thresholds to avoid creating an undesirable effect.

Finishing the floor

Factory finished, ready to lay flooring: no specific treatment required unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer. As a rule, flooring protected with natural oil requires one final and additional protective coat after laying.

Untreated wood flooring: oiled, varnished, stained. There is a wide range of finishes available designed to protect and enhance the appearance of this type of floor.  Before applying the protective finish, it is essential to very carefully sand the floor. This will need to be done at least twice, if not three times in some cases.

Important: it is advisable to apply any final finishes to the floor BEFORE fitting skirting or beading along the edges (wait until completely dry, about 48 h).

Time taken for the flooring to settle after laying: 8 days minimum.

This installation advice is based on French building code DTU 51.1. It is provided for information purposes only and does not entail the liability of Decoplus in any way. The advice given here will, nonetheless, enable you to efficiently carry out the installation of your new flooring yourself. However, if problems are encountered, it is advisable to engage the services of a professional rather than risk irreversibly modifying your newly purchased flooring.

 on French building code DTU 51.2. It is provided for information purposes only and does not entail the liability of Decoplus in any way. The advice given here will, nonetheless, enable you to efficiently carry out the installation of your new flooring yourself. However, if problems are encountered, it is advisable to engage the services of a professional rather than risk irreversibly modifying your newly purchased flooring.

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