wood floor installation advice

Wood Floor Installation Advice

If you are considering a wood floor for your home or business, you should really read this article. This comprehensive, impartial, wood floor installation advice comes from our experts, who have been working with this beautiful and complex natural material for decades.

Everyone knows that wood floors come from a living, breathing object…. a tree, right? Most of us understand that a tree takes water from the soil it is growing in via its’ roots and distributes that moisture, laden with nutrients up the trunk along the branches and into its’ leaves where excess moisture is expelled into the air (transpiration). Most probably don’t know that this transpiration causes suction which brings more water up from the roots and that the conduit for the water through the trunk is made up of small straw like tubes known as xylem.

Even fewer will realise that in order for the roots to thrive and grow they also need to be nourished and for that to happen the sugars that are created by photosynthesis need to travel from the leaves, back down the tree to the roots and this is done via cells called phloem.

So now you know a bit more about the two basic components of a tree that allow it to live, of course just like us trees are made up than more than just a vascular system, they also need to have a skin like protective layer (bark), they don’t need a bone structure to support them but they do have heartwood which is the dead wood in the centre of the tree made up of previous years’ growth.

So now is the time to start telling you why all this is very important to you if you have a wooden floor because if I go into any more detail you will stop reading and you really need to understand this!

In the UK we have no real understanding of wood and so we put down beautiful wooden floors because we “like the natural look” and yet we expect them to behave like plastics or other materials that have never lived. In addition to this, the number of fully trained wood floor fitters in this country is woeful. A friend of mine runs a fantastic flooring school that is full of people wanting to learn about vinyl fitting and carpet fitting, but he cannot get people on his wood floor course!), yet it requires more skill, knowledge and equipment to correctly fit a hardwood floor than either of these man-made products. In addition, a badly fitted wooden floor can damage the structure of your house EASILY, that doesn’t happen with carpet or vinyl!

So if you are thinking of fitting a wooden floor here’s what you need to think about.

Wood Floor Installation Advice – Moisture Content

wood floor moisture metreWhen a plank is cut from a tree it is made up of heartwood and sapwood the former being old dryer and dead and the latter being softer, moister and vascular (our friends Xy and Flo). In order for it to be stable enough to be machined for its’ final purpose that plank will be seasoned over a reasonable period in the open air.

Immediately prior to machining, the plank will be stored inside to bring its’ moisture content down further. The extent of this will depend on the type of wood and its final purpose.

For flooring, it is not unusual for the moisture content to be as low as 7% when it leaves the factory but because the process has been carried out slowly and methodically the wood has retained its integrity and is flat and stable.

The scenario

So jump forward now to Fred the floor fitter opening the new packs of freshly delivered wooden flooring. They arrived early this morning (the driver loaded the night before) and Fred can’t wait to get fitting – well why not? It’s only wood, what can possibly go wrong? After all, the room has just been re-screeded and plastered and the heating isn’t on yet so it will all be fine, just like the carpets are. Fred has been fitting carpets for 20 years without a problem and the vinyl he’s done for the last couple of months with (barely) an issue, he’s a skilled floor fitter!

Wood floor Installation advice – Finding a qualified installer

So let’s talk about what should happen to correctly install a wood floor. It starts at quotation stage and in the above scenario, the process will go on for at least three weeks before floor laying is commenced.

  • At quotation the fitter or salesman should advise you of the suitability of the product you are considering for the environment it is being fitted in. They should further advise you about the pros and cons of your choice and what you should expect in terms of living with the floor.
  • He/she should inform you of the requirements that are necessary for a successful installation. This will mean measuring moisture, temperature and humidity levels in the subfloor and the air and stating that he/she will not fit the floor until the specified parameters are met. If your fitter does not have quality measuring equipment (Tramex or Protimeter for example) then do not proceed with them.
  • If the conditions are not correct at quotation stage (if a room has been recently plastered, screeded or heating has been off for a long period) then measurements will need to be taken at regular intervals and a record of the progress kept.
  • Once conditions are correct the wood should be delivered, stacked correctly and acclimatised in the room it is being fitted WITH THE CONDITIONS AS CLOSE TO LIVING CONDITIONS AS POSSIBLE.
  • Measurements should be taken again immediately prior to installation and this time should include the wood itself.
  • Installation should be carried out with reference to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • On completion of the installation, the client should be given instruction on how to clean and maintain their wood floor and how to keep the conditions in their house correct for their floor.

So why did I bore you with the details of tree structure and what bearing does the above have on that?

The Scenario – What’s next

So Fred fits his floor, he hasn’t done any measuring so he doesn’t know that that the subfloor moisture reading is too high because the screed hasn’t fully dried, or that the plaster is still damp so the moisture in the air is too high. The wood itself left the factory at 7% but it was loaded last night and left on a truck outside so Lord knows what the reading in that is! He hasn’t done any training so is oblivious to the need for expansion gaps, the correct spacing around pipes etc., and he’s a geezer so he’s not going to read the instructions is he? Thank God the heating hasn’t been commissioned yet so he won’t be sweating buckets!

Wood Floor Installation Advice – Why Moisture Matters

moisture damae - wood floorSo what’s going to happen here? In all likelihood, the fact that the wood was loaded the night before is not going to be a big factor (unless it was not covered and it poured down rain) and in any case if it was slightly wetter than 7% it would help with the scenario that is developing.

The biggest issue is the moisture in the subfloor and the walls which once the heating is finally switched on are going to cause a massive spike in humidity in the room. The moisture in the air is going to get into the wood and travel along all those little tubes causing it to swell, not a problem for one piece of wood, after all, what’s one or two millimetres on a 75mm stave? Oh hang on, that’s 40 -80mm in a small room and Fred didn’t leave ANY expansion gaps, let alone enough to cover this.

In this scenario, if you are lucky the floor will just pop up, it probably won’t be economically recoverable so you’ll only lose a £1000 worth of materials (it’s a VERY small room), plus the labour (it won’t be Freds’ problem after all, will it?)

Worst Case Scenario

Of course, if you are unlucky (and yes I have seen it) you’ll push the wall down and lose all the wood (in this case it definitely won’t be salvageable), so substantially more than £1000 will be lost!

I have only scraped the surface of why you should only use a wood floor fitter who knows what he is doing. An environment that is too dry will result in a gap filled floor, a wood with lots of minerals in the heartwood can cause finishing problems, underfloor heating requires special treatment, all these issues can be correctly dealt with by the correct fitter and finisher, but without a desire to learn about wood specifically and equip themselves correctly your wood floor fitter is unlikely to be up to the job and you’ll end up paying the price.

It’s enough to drive you to an (a)xlem (sorry).

For more information on floor installation training follow this link.


To find a trained floor sanding contractor in your area please follow this link.




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oil or lacquer for wood floor

Choosing a finish – The Beauty of Options

This article is to help with choosing a finish for your newly restored wood floor. In our current fast-paced world, we all want it easy and we want it now. We also want it cheap and we want it to be good and we, of course, want it to last a long time. In the art of wood floor sanding these few factors do not fit together well. In the world of wood floors and wood floor restoration, to get it good and to last a long time, is not fast nor it is cheap.

To get the best result for your wood floor restoration project it is always best to be as well informed as possible before you get the professional wood floor sanders in to provide you with advice and costings. As the owner of Art of Clean in Cambridge, I am lucky to have seen many floors and finishes as well many standards to which floor sanding professionals work.

One of the factors clients are most let down on is providing clients with options as to what finish will be best for their newly sanded wood floor.

Before we set out the guidelines on chosing a finish for your wood floor I would like to explore with you why so many floor sanders do not offer their clients enough options to the right finish for their floor.

Here are a few reasons:

Lack of knowledge.

It is true that there are some very talented wood floor sanders around. It is also true that there are some floor sanding contractors that do not have the required knowledge. Many of these floor sanders might have been trained in a hands-on fashion, working with other floor sanders, basically learning on the job. Though a floor sanding professional may have many years’ experience it does not mean they have the required knowledge.

Due to the fast-moving pace of the technology and science in the floor sanding industry, it is more beneficial for a floor sander to expand his/her knowledge by attending industry recognised training than to use the “slow lane” by learning from other floor sanders on the job.

Lack of Experience

It is fair to expect that if a wood floor sander knows and trusts a wood floor finishing product that he will use the product more if he has the option. This means that once he has to advise on the best product for the floor that he/she will naturally have a bias towards the product he is familiar with.

This is no problem until… new technologies offer products that outperform the product the floor sander prefers.

Pressure to meet budget requirements.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article we see many clients who have a budget to meet and therefore it pushes many floor sanders to offer a lower cost finishing product. Though this meets the budgetary requirement for the client it is plausible that due to the lower budget the quality of the finishing product will be reduced.

Now let’s move on and explore what options you can expect when choosing a finishing product for your wood floors.

Water Based VS Solvent Based.

In the quest to be as environmentally friendly as possible many floor finish manufacturers push for water based finishes. Floor sanding professionals worth their salt will aim to provide you with a water based finish where possible. It is a fact that water based finishes are better for the environment and better for your health, your family (domestic) your staff or clients (commercial) and the health of the person applying the product.

Single component VS Two Pack

To increase a wood floor finish’s durability the finish is manufactured as a 2 component product. This means mixing 2 components together and a reaction between the products causes the finish to be much harder wearing than a single component. Your floor sanding professional is obliged to offer you the best finish for your floor. For floors with standard to lower use, a single component product will be a good choice of finish. It is beneficial to choose a 2 component finish for your high traffic areas or areas where the floor is possibly exposed to higher levels of moisture or spills, examples include, Bathrooms, Kitchens, hairdressers floors and sport’s halls to name a few.

Choosing a finish – Oil Vs Lacquer

choosing a finish - oil or lacquerMore recent developments in the finishes of wood floor oils offer the option to get floors finished with an oil that provides a more natural finish (very good for older style homes) to compliment the feel of the premises. Penetrating oils like Pallmann Magic Oil also offer end users the choice to have localised repairs carried out on their floors. This eliminates the need to have floors fully sanded back in the future if only a small part is worn or damaged.

If a lacquer is used on a floor it will offer the option to give a matt, semi sheen or a high shine finish. This gives a polyurethane protective coating on the surface of the wood floor. Your wood floor restoration professional will be required to advise what finish will be best for your floor.

Benefits of choosing a wood floor contractor:

Ultimate Floor Sanding Affiliates are professionals that can discuss your floor sanding and finishing requirements and link this to the correct product for your need. This will save you time and money in the following ways:

The right product will mean the wood floor will last longer, the room will not be out of use for that long. It is also a well-known fact that a wood floor can only be sanded so many times before it needs replacing. Sanding a wood floor prematurely means it will require replacement much sooner.

Where to find the right wood floor sanding contractor

Choosing an Ultimate Floor Sanding Affiliate will mean you get access to a floor sanding professional that will have attended training on an annual basis and is up to speed with changes in our industry.

For wood floor finishing advice and getting the most for your wood floor including getting advice on what finish is best for your wood floor please contact Art of Clean who is a proud affiliate of Ultimate Floor Sanding.

About Art of Clean

Learn more about who we are, what we do and what we stand for by visiting www.floorsandingcambridge.co.uk www.floorsandingnewmarket.co.uk www.woodfloorsandingessex.co.uk also our main website at www.artofclean.co.uk

Areas covered by Art of Clean for wood floor sanding and restoration and wood floor sanding and  polishing include: Ely, Huntingdon, Godmanchester, Papworth Everard, , Cambridge,  Thaxted, Newport, St Neots

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Dark stain on oak floor

Wood Floor Staining Advice

Mike Tinkler, our wood floor sanding and staining expert in Darlington shares his experience with some wood floor staining advice. Mike has recently undertaken two very different wood floor sanding and staining projects. The first was on a pine floor in Teeside, and the second was a very bold dark staining project on an oak floor in Durham City.

Wood Floor Staining Advice – Pine

The first project was 1920’s pine floor in a rented accommodation. The owner wanted something more modern than carpeting to help attract prospective tenants for her latest rental property. So the finish needed to look good and also be durable. Pine is a beautiful timber – but it was never really designed to be on show as a finely finished floor! One easy way to help make your old pine look like new is to speak to your local Ultimate Floor Sanding Company professional floor restoration expert.

What Mike did

First, we completed some repairs on the old pine and then carried out our revolutionary Dust free sanding process, meaning no mess for the property owner. Once the pine floor was clean and dust free we applied the Pallmann 333. This floor staining product is of a very high quality and in this instance, having consulted with the property owner, we chose a blended mix of dark medium brown. One the Pallmann 333 stain was dry and homogenised, Mike finished the pine floor boards with Pallmann 98 Gold to give the rental property floors their best chance of longevity!

Wood Floor Staining advice – Oak floor with a dark stain

This client was very bold in their thinking and didn’t want to stick with old fashioned ideas on colour. They were having the walls painted grey and wanted Mike and his team to go bold on the Oak with a really dark stain.

What Mike did

We started by showing a few different sample colours on their floor to help them decide on exactly what was right for them. We tested several stains on the oak floor to show the client the potential results. We followed the Ultimate Floor Sanding process as above and in this instance applied Pallmann 333 in ebony black to the sanded floor. The result was beautiful.

Mike says “As long as you have tested the floor stain, and shown the results, balanced the clients thinking along the way, you can achieve something really striking and unique. After all the aim is to help give the client what they desire!
See how the old damaged oak boards have been transformed using ebony black – just look at the gorgeous herring bone effect shining through!”

These really were jobs well done by Mike and his team. Both of the clients were delighted and he has subsequently carried out another 3 jobs for each client and has been recommended on by them many times.

About Pallmann 333 Wood Floor Stain

• Pallmann 333 is a very easy to use product.
• We always recommend that we carry out a test patch on the client’s floor to ensure they like the colour
• We can mix the colours to help to deliver exceptionally unique floors
• Mikes tip is that if you decide on a mix – make a note of % mix in your diary
• Our experts will protect your skirting boards and fireplaces against oil contamination
• We are not afraid to be bold! if our client desires something different, we’ll work with them and their expectations – as Mike recommends just test and show!

Remember the beauty of working with timber is its ability to be remodelled, reshaped, recoloured, and restored! Experts like Mike know and respect its limitations.

Contact Mike

If you would like to speak to Mike or one of his team of floor sanding and staining experts in Darlington, freephone 0333 93 901 93

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pine floor after restoration

Is it worth restoring your pine floor?

Have you discovered floorboards under your carpet? Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth having them sanded and restored to make them your flooring of choice? Here we discuss the factors to consider when deciding is it worth restoring your pine floor? There are a few things to consider, we hope this short guide will help you make the right choice.

It may seem obvious but before you do anything ask yourself which type of floor covering you would prefer, soft or hard? Don’t make a decision based on price, we often find that a full restoration can often be cheaper to complete than buying and fitting a mid-range carpet. After all, you have to live in your home so you must have what you want!

Have a professional look at the condition of the floor. On the odd occasion, we have come across floors that are ‘too far gone’ to restore. This may be due to plumbers and electricians cutting and breaking boards, woodworm or dampness. We have also seen floors which are unsafe due to the beams underneath being weak, this causes much more expense and needs to be taken into consideration.

pine floor boards before sanding


Boards can be replaced with reclaimed timber, these can look different to the original boards when sanded because they will have come from a different tree, from a different forest in a different country.  Having a professional inspect the floor will help your decision on if it’s worth having your pine floor sanded and restored.


The likelihood is your pine floor is in good enough condition to be sanded and restored. We would always recommend having a professional do the work; in our experience, the result will be far better. However, if that is not an option for you talk to your local Ultimate Floor Sanding Company floor sanding expert about how to do it, he may be able to hire a machine to you if you fancy having a go yourself.

Is it worth restoring your pine floor? – Gaps in the Floor

Would you like to have the gaps between the boards filled? There are several advantages to this one being done. It will help to insulate the room from drafts, the other advantage is it makes the floor look much nicer as you are effectively turning the floor into a solid wood floor.

Restoring a Pine Floor – Choosing a Finish

pine floorboards after restoration


The type of finish to use is also important. There are basically two types of wood floor finish, polyurethane (varnishes) and oils. Polyurethane is a ‘topical finish’, that is it sits on the top of the wood like any paint providing a resilient clear protective layer which is easy to maintain. Oil is a ‘penetrating finish’, it flows into the pores of the wood protecting it from the inside. If it’s a quality wood floor oil like the Pallmann Magic Oil that we use, it will also form a cross-linking layer on the surface for extra protection.

Both of these finishes can be applied over a colour to give you floor even more character.

Whichever way you decide to go, DIY or hiring an expert, get a professional in first. Most offer free quotes and advice and after all, the more information you have the better.

About the Author

commercial pine floor restorationThis blog post was written by Adrian Cunnington our floor sanding expert in Taunton. Adrian also covers the areas around Bristol and Bath.

If you would like to arrange for Adrian to provide you with a free no obligation quote and advice please call Freephone 0333 93 901 93

Visit Adrian’s page on our website Floor Sanders in Bristol

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