Direction for Laying Hardwood Floors - ProConstruction Guide
The Correct Direction for Laying Hardwood Floors

Finding the Correct Direction for Laying Hardwood Floors

Visual congruity is everything when it comes to hardwood floor installation. You must make sure the boards run away from the main entrance of the room, yet make sure they run perpendicular to the floor joists.

Here are guidelines to find the correct direction for laying hardwood floors:

All about the Appearance

The key to laying down hardwood floors is in the sightline. Run the boards from the main entryway to the opposite wall to make the room appear less busy.

For most jobs, your sightline reference is going to be the main entrance (so run the boards away from there). If you maintain the same direction throughout the house, the boards may run across the entrances of some rooms. While you can always change the direction for laying hardwood floors in the doorways to prevent this scenario, you should take joist direction into account.

Structurally Speaking

Make sure you install the floorboards perpendicular to the floor joists in areas with a plywood subfloor. Laying them parallel leaves open the chance that the floor will sag between the joists and open gaps between the boards or worse. If you want the boards to run parallel to the joists, shore up the subfloor by adding a layer of 3/8-inch plywood.

In older homes, 1-inch planks may run diagonally to the joists, and can support flooring planks running parallel to the joists. If your subfloor is a concrete pad, these structural considerations don’t apply.

The Diagonal Approach

Diagonal installations are as stable as those that run perpendicular to the joists and create an appealing look for large rooms. Most installers use a 45-degree diagonal, but there are other options. For example, on a floor that’s slightly askew because of a wall, you can use a 10-degree diagonal. Remember – diagonal installations require more wood, because you are producing more unusable offcuts when making angled cuts.

The Touch Ups

Even after your installation is complete, you still may need to do some touch up. For example, you may need to reinstall the baseboard and touch up any face nailing and marks. Make sure you allot the proper time in your schedule for this.

Bonus Tip

When laying out the first row of flooring, remember that the walls aren’t always straight. If you use a doorway or single wall as your sole reference, you may have to compensate for a large angle to finish up the hardwood flooring installation.

The ideal approach may be to take a slight angle with respect to a doorway rather than laying perpendicular to it. To find the angle, carefully measure the walls.



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