A Guide to Fitting Engineered Wood Flooring

At Carpetright we want to make things easier for our customers at every step. You’ve purchased your engineered wood flooring and now you just need to fit it. We always advise that you use a professional flooring fitter to ensure you get the best possible finish. However, lots of people prefer to do it themselves and if you are one of them, we’re on hand to assist. We’ve asked our experts for hints and advice so we can put together this fitting guide to help you every step of the way.

We’ll cover every stage of the installation process, including:

  1. How to measure a room for engineered wood flooring
  2. Tools you’ll need when laying engineered wood flooring
  3. Preparing a floor for engineered wood
  4. How to lay engineered wood flooring underlay
  5. Fitting engineered wood flooring
  6. How to fit engineered wood flooring around doorframes
  7. Engineered wood floor edging
  8. How to repair engineered wood flooring
  9. Safety advice

1. How to measure a room for engineered wood

As with all DIY jobs, preparation is key and with flooring it’s crucial that you get your rooms’ dimensions correct. If your room is perfectly square or rectangular, the area can be calculated by multiplying the width by the height. For example, a room that is 5m x 2m will need 10m² of laminate flooring.

For rooms that include recesses or chimney breasts, it helps to draw a diagram of the room complete with any alcoves, fireplaces, nooks and crannies. Measure each individual area and keep note of the dimensions on a sheet of paper. Then break the room down into smaller rectangles that you can add together to get the total area of the room. Then add an all-important 5% for waste.

To make doubly sure they’re right, measure your lengths more than once and remember to measure to the back of any door frames or room trims that you want the flooring to go under when it is fitted.

Measuring stairs or steps is quite simple. To give you then length, measure the height and depth of each stair before multiplying by the width. This will give you the area of each step. Again, to allow for any margin of error, add 10% for waste.

When you buy engineered wood flooring bear in mind it is usually sold in packs that are labelled by their size in meters squared. For example, one pack might include 5m² of flooring.

2. Engineered wood flooring tools

Like with measuring, getting the right engineered wood flooring kit is another important consideration. You may already have many of the tools needed in your toolbox and most DIY outlets sell a flooring kit that will include the pull bar and spacers for the job.

Tools you might need include:

  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Workbench - to secure the boards when cutting
  • Clamp - to secure the boards to the workbench when cutting
  • Panel saw - for small projects, cutting a few boards and cutting boards to fit around door frames
  • Jigsaw - best for making fiddly cuts and cutting holes for radiator pipes. Use with a hardwood blade for the best results and we advise having several spares to hand as your cuts will get rougher as the blade wears away
  • Mitre saw - for larger projects or lots of cutting, if necessary
  • Power drill - to cut holes for radiator pipes, if necessary
  • 32mm flat wood drill bit or 30mm hole saw - to cut holes for radiator pipes, if necessary. Standard radiator pipes are 15mm in diameter, so these will create a hole big enough for the pipe and the expansion gap.
  • Wood chisel - to fit boards around door frames
  • Wooden mallet - to fit boards around door frames
  • Plane - to shorten the length of the door, if necessary
  • Hacksaw - to fit the threshold bar
  • Screwdriver - to secure the threshold bar, dependent on installation
  • Cartridge gun - to apply the grab adhesive to the flooring trim, if necessary
  • Pein hammer - to secure the panel pins to the flooring trim, if necessary
  • Scotia cutters - to cut floor trim, Mitre saw

3. Preparing your sub-floor

  • Make sure the entire area is smooth, even and dry. If it’s a newly concreted floor, make sure it is fully dried out. Fix any screws and nails firmly below the surface, so that they do not puncture the underlay or wood.
  • Make sure all your packs of boards have been resting horizontally in the area they are to be fitted for 48 hours so they are flat and have acclimatised to the room.
  • Clean up any dust and debris with a vacuum cleaner and scrape or sand off any existing adhesives from previous flooring.
  • If laying on concrete, you will need to put down a damp-proof membrane but using underlay with a built-in damp proof membrane is recommended.
  • Remove skirting boards so that they can be re-fitted when the new boards are in, if you do not plan to use any beading.

4. How to lay underlay for engineered wood flooring

Bear in mind that not all types are suitable for wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms while some types come with a built-in damp-proof membrane.

  • Place the underlay at one end of the room and unroll from the wall.
  • Lay lengths parallel using scissors or a knife to trim and stick together with masking tape.
  • Continue in this way across the room. Although we need the edges to meet, it’s important to ensure they don't overlap as this will create an uneven floor.
  • Leave a gap of 10mm around pipes.

5. Fitting engineered wood flooring

Before fitting engineered wood flooring, think about which direction you would like the boards to lie in. Ideally, they will lay in the direction of the longest wall but if your subfloor is wooden, then it is best to have the boards fitted across the joists underneath.

  • Working from left to right, start in a corner and lay the first row of boards with the end with the groove facing the nearest wall.
  • Place expansion spacers between the board and the wall with an 8-10mm expansion gap. This gap will cater for the natural shift in size through seasonal and temperature changes, and without it your flooring could become damaged.
  • NOTE: The last row of boards will need to be at least 100mm wide, so measure ahead and adjust your first row by cutting the boards if necessary.
  • The boards will click together using the click system.
  • Lay the next board, fitting the tongues together at 30 degrees from the floor before lowering it to a level and locking it in place. Carry on until the end of the row.
  • The last board of the row will need to be cut to size if it is too long to fit. To accurately measure the board to the exact size of the gap, turn it 180 degrees and lay it next to the previous board (remember to use an expansion spacer). Draw a line across the board, using a tri-square and pencil, level to where it meets the previous board. Now, cut the board to size and fit in the end of the row with the freshly cut side facing the wall.
  • You can use the off-cut to start the next row, if it is at least 300mm. However, if it's too short, simply cut a board in half and use that.
  • Lay the rows side by side, ensuring the joints are staggered from row to row. Continue to use the spacers to maintain a consistent gap between the planks and the wall.
  • Calculate the width of the last board by laying a plank over the previous row. Place a third plank with its tongue against the wall and mark a line on the plan beneath. This will give you the desired width. Then use the hammer and pull bar to fit it tightly into space.
  • As engineered wood is a ‘floating floor’ it must not touch any wall, door frames or pipes to stop the flooring moving.

6. How to fit engineered wood flooring around door frames

Fitting wood flooring around doorframes can be tricky but it’s worth it for the finish achieved.

  • Before you start, make sure that the door will open with the new flooring and door bar in situ. If it doesn’t fit, remove the door and either cut or plane a strip off the bottom of the door.
  • If the architrave extends beyond the skirting, trim the architrave to allow space for the underlay and flooring beneath it. This will give you a far neater finish than cutting the flooring to fit around it.
  • Lay an upside down board on a piece of underlay beside the door frame.
  • Then cut through the bottom of the architrave by placing a panel saw flat on the board.
  • Remove the waste piece of wood using a wood chisel and wooden mallet.
  • Make sure you allow for that all important expansion gap at the wall beneath the architrave.

7. Engineered wood floor edging

If you have chosen not to remove or undercut skirting boards, then using engineered wood floor beading is a good way to finish off your project. These are very effective in blending your new floor with your existing woodwork if you chose a trim that matches.

There are matching flooring accessories available to ensure your floor looks seamless.

  • Measure the lengths required, cut 45 degree angles at the corners and apply a thin line of wood glue to the back of the trim. Do not apply to the bottom of the trim – the glue should stick to the skirting board, and not the floor.
  • Hold the trim in place with some tacks or heavy objects such as books while the adhesive dries.
  • If you are using a transitional trim to separate engineered wood from another type of flooring in another room, make sure you choose an option that is suitable for use on both surfaces.

8. How to repair engineered wood flooring

Engineered wood flooring is pretty hard-wearing but like any wood can be susceptible to scratches and damage.

Fortunately, scratches, chips and dents can be repaired or masked. There are several wood floor repair kits available that come with oils and liquids.

It’s imperative that you choose one that contains a colour that matches – or is at least very close to – the colour of your floor or the scratch will become more noticeable.

9. Safety advice

  • Always wear safety goggles and a facemask when cutting wood.
  • Remember to wear kneepads for comfort – and to keep your knees healthy in the long-term.
  • When measuring up, work with a partner to hold the other end of the tape.
  • Take care when using solvents and fillers – these can be flammable and toxic and should be kept out of children’s reach.