Flooring and paving
Laminate flooring provides a contemporary finish that is easy to clean and maintain, and also adds a great deal of character to any home. It can come in a number of styles that include oak, pine, maple and walnut effects, whilst the flooring itself can have smooth or bevelled edges. In short there is a laminate flooring style that will suit any home, but installing it correctly is vital to achieving a quality finish. Laying laminate flooring is a challenging DIY task, but if you feel that you have the skills to do this, then bypassing professional installation will save you a great deal of money. If you are interested in laying laminate flooring yourself, then this guide will be able to provide you with all the information needed to achieve your desired effect.
Measuring and Choosing
Before you can start to install your laminate flooring, you will need to measure the area that you intend to surface and choose a laminate flooring type that is suitable for your needs. To find out how much laminate flooring will be required for your project it is advisable to follow this simple equation:
- Measure the widest points of your room and then measure the length. Multiply these together and you will get the area of your room in m2. Take this measurement and add 10% to account for potential problems. The final figure will be the surface area that you will have to cover
- To work out how many packs of laminate flooring are needed, check the size specified on the packaging. Divide your room size by the size that is specified on the packaging. For example if it says 1.243m2 on the packaging and your room is 22m2, it works out that you will need 17.6 packs. Always round this figure up and allow 10% extra for cuts and wastage.
Now that you know how much laminate flooring is required for your project you will need to choose the type most suitable for your needs. Fortunately laminate flooring is extremely durable meaning that it is ideal for most rooms. Check the pack to make sure it is suitable for use in water borne areas like kitchens or bathrooms. The click lock interlocking floor panel is now the industry standard for laminate flooring.
Preparing the Surface
Now that you have the right amount of laminate flooring in the style that you like, you can begin to prepare the surface that it will be laid on. This surface must be dry, even and smooth, and to obtain this you may need to remove any nails or screws that are sticking out. Once this is done sweep the area for any excess debris, and if you are fitting laminate flooring onto concrete always make sure that a damp proof membrane is fitted in place beforehand.
Most flooring that is properly fitted will require underlay. Underlay comes in a number of varieties including poly foam and wood fibre, but arguably the best type that will suit most properties is combined underlay. Combined underlay is thicker than poly foam and so will absorb irregularities in the floor, whilst also having a built in damp proof layer.
Remove the skirting boards if possible as when finished it will look more professional. This not essential as a purpose made cover bead can be used to hide the gap.
- When fitting underlay and flooring it is imperative that you read the instructions on the pack carefully
- Make sure you leave the correct gaps at the perimeter and around pipes
- Lay the lengths of underlay side by side
- Secure the lengths of underlay together using masking or duct tape
- You will want to lay the underlay in the same direction as the longest straight wall
Laying the Laminate Flooring
After all of the necessary preparation work has been carried out you can now begin to lay the laminate flooring.
- Like the underlay, it is a good idea to lay the flooring in the same direction as the longest wall
- However, if you have similar flooring in a room opposite then make sure that it follows the same direction. This will avoid creating a strange contrast between the flooring patterns of the two rooms
- Start in the corner and lay the first row of laminate flooring against the longest wall, but be sure to install plastic spacers between the boards and the wall every 60cm
- If you are using laminate flooring that requires glue, then apply wood adhesive to the tongue and groove joints at the end of each piece. If you are using laminate flooring that doesn’t require glue, then simply click these into place. These will also have tongue and groove joints
- It may be necessary to cut the last board nearest the wall in order for it to fit properly. Mark it with a pencil and a try square, before cutting it in the appropriate place using a saw
- By now you should have completed a single row that runs beside the longest wall. Assuming that you have done this you will need to start your second row
- Start your second row but be sure that all adjacent boards are staggered by a least 30cm. Ideally you should start next to the cut piece in the first row
- Continue to stagger the boards across the whole of the room, making sure that you push together the completed rows. Don’t forget to add wall spacers where necessary
Laying Laminate Flooring around Pipes
Laying laminate flooring around pipes can be tricky and inconvenient, but it is a situation that often arises. If you want to create a professional looking finish, then this problem will need to be dealt with.
- Firstly mark the position of the pipe onto the board that will be fitted around it
- Drill a hole around the marking, but make sure that this is larger in diameter than the pipe itself
- Once this is done you will need to make two angled cuts from the board edge to the side of the hole
- By now you should have two pieces which create a board that fits snugly around the pipe in question
- Glue the cut-off wedge piece behind the pipe, but make sure that there is still an expansion gap between the pipe and the board
- Assuming that this has been carried out correctly, you should now have laminate flooring that fits closely around any piping work. Repeat this technique where necessary
- To finish off fit a matching pipe cover
If you have reached this stage you should now have laminate flooring that is fitted correctly. Remember to remove the wall spacers and replace the skirting boards if you have taken these off, and for additional support insert cork expansion strips around the perimeter of the room. Lastly, fitting threshold strips on each doorway is optional, but at the same time strongly recommended. Now you can relax and enjoy your newly laid laminate flooring, but if you want to bypass a challenging DIY task then it is a good idea to have it fitted professionally. Contact a construction company for further details.
Laying Stone Paving
Stone paving comes in an assortment of shapes and sizes that can be laid in different patterns to create different effects. These are often seen on driveways and patios throughout the country, but due to the material used no two stone paving surfaces will ever be the same. It is this sense of uniqueness that appeals to many people, and as a result DIY paving installations are becoming ever more popular. This is a DIY task that is not for the fainthearted and ideally a reasonable level of competence will be needed. But if you think you have what it takes, this basic guide will give you a brief idea of what is involved with regards to laying stone paving.
This guide will look at how to lay stone or concrete slabs. These slabs, or flags as they should be referred to, offer arguably the best finish out of all available types of paving, but doing this is by no means an easy feat.
Stone Paving Flags
As already mentioned stone paving flags can come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Choosing the type that is best for your purposes presents a challenge in itself. There are thin and thick sliced flags, reclaimed flags, concrete flags and newly quarried flags just to name a few, and all of these will have different requirements. As a general rule of thumb however, flags that are 20-40mm thick will be suitable for residential purposes such as patios, while thicker flags that are around 45-60mm in width will be better for more heavy duty areas like driveways. Choose a type of paving flag that meets your needs.
Planning and Preparation
All stone paving flags will have a top surface and an underside. As the name suggests the top surface will want to be facing upwards, and this can be identified by its smooth face and neat edges.
Flags need to be laid using mortar mixed using 4 parts sharp sand and 1 part cement.
The term Sub Base refers to the surface that the stone flags are going to be laid on.
In most cases you will need to remove the top soil so an adequate base can be laid.
For areas of light foot traffic a sub base of 50mm will be sufficient. MOT type 1 makes a perfect base and is readily available from all builders’ merchants.
For heavy vehicle areas, a minimum of 150mm of compacted sub base will be required.
- A sub base can be either crushed hardcore or stone, or a purpose designed material as stated above, which is then compressed using a vibrating plate compactor
- A sub base will basically act as the foundation for your stone paving
Laying Paving or Flags
Now that you have a solid sub base at the correct levels, you need to create a bond between the bedding and the paving flags using cement based mortar.
- Mixing the mortar in a cement mixer is the preferred method and will establish well mixed and uniform mortar using 4 parts sharp sand to 1 part cement. The mixed mortar should hold its form without slumping
- Set out string lines at the correct height and always work to the line
- Make sure you have a fall to allow water to drain off the finished paving
- Apply this mortar with a brick laying trowel to the sub base, leaving it higher than the line
- Lift and gently place the slab in position then tap to the correct height with a rubber mallet
- Once it is down and aligned correctly leave alone and move on to the next one. Once in place the paving should be checked for rocking. If there is movement, then most problems can be solved by packing the lower corner of the flag with additional bedding material
- Once this is done a straight edge can also be used to check if the paving flags are evenly laid
Now that you are aware of the basic idea behind buttering and laying paving flags, you may encounter a situation that will require you to cut one to fit a specific area.
- Firstly the golden rule needs to be applied here – measure twice, cut once
- Measure the area that needs to be cut and then mark it with a pencil or a piece of slate
- Lay the flag on a secure surface so that it can be cut safely. Make sure that no rocking or instability occurs before cutting
- Put on all of the relevant safety equipment. For this job you will need thick gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask at the absolute bare minimum
- Cut the flag across the marked area using an angle grinder fitted with the correct blade. A water-fed saw will reduce the amount of dust and debris that is produced during the cutting process and is generally seen as the safest way to cut paving flags
- Remember, it’s not necessary to cut the full depth of the flag as it will break cleanly once the half depth stage is reached. This tip will save you from replacing your saw blades on such a regular basis
- By now you should have a paving flag that is properly cut to meet your required measurements. You can now lay this using the technique that has been highlighted above
Assuming that your stone paving surface has been laid correctly then you shouldn’t encounter any problems. However, it is always a good idea to check for solidarity and level compliance, whilst ensuring that the joints between the flags have been pointed in cement mortar to a high standard. For pointing joints, use 4 parts building sand to 1 part cement. Once this has been carried out, brush the surface using a regular brush to remove any excess mortar or bedding and then refrain from using it for at least 24 hours. This will give the bedding an opportunity to set, whilst the mortar undergoes the necessary curing process. Your stone paving surface will be ready for regular and frequent use within the next 3 days.
As previously mentioned this guide is only really intended for information purposes. It aims to give you a brief insight into the kind of work that is involved when laying a stone paving surface, whilst also providing tips and pointers that may come in handy. Carrying out a project of this magnitude is by no means an easy task, and as a result professional help may be needed. In this case, use a construction company that has the necessary expertise and experience to deliver a high quality end product.
Laying Ceramic or Porcelain Floor Tiles
Ceramic floor tiles are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. They provide an appealing finish that is easy to clean and maintain, whilst they also create an elegant look that is extremely durable and hardwearing. A great deal of people are drawn to the idea of having ceramic floor tiles fitted in their home, but are put off by the hefty price tag that often comes with them. In this situation individuals may opt for lino as an alternative, but this simply does not have the same level of prestige as a properly fitted tiled floor. However, the solution to this problem is to fit a tiled floor yourself. To do this planning, patience and perseverance will be required, but it will come with a higher sense of reward and most importantly the opportunity to save a significant amount of cash. This is by no means an easy task, but by following this rough guide you can gain an idea as to how this realistic goal can be achieved.
Obtaining the correct dimensions of the area that you intend to tile is crucial to your project’s success. Ideally this needs to be done before any materials are purchased and before any work begins.
Firstly you will need to find the surface area of the floor that is going to be tiled. To do this measure the widest point of the room and then measure the length of it. Multiply these figures together to gain the area of your room in m2. Ideally an extra 10% should be added to account for any potential problems that may arise, but as soon as you have the correct measurements you can begin to purchase flooring tiles and other necessary materials.
What You Will Need
The following list looks at the tools and materials needed to properly install a tiled floor.
- Tiles – these are sold in packs and you will have to buy enough of them to meet your requirements. Some basic maths will be needed here
- Floor tile adhesive – this creates the bond between the surface of the floor and the tiles
- Plastic tile spacers
- A good quality tile cutter
- Spirit level
- Floor tile grout and grout spreader
- Flexible sealant
- A good quality hole saw
Assuming that you have the items above you can move onto the next stage. If you are unsure as to how many floor tiles and tube of floor adhesive you will need, speak to a person in the store who will be able to help you.
Preparation is the key to success. If you have reached this stage then you will have started the preparation process, but before work begins some preliminary factors need to be carried out.
- Find your floors centre point. This is vital as it will determine where your first tile will be laid. To do this measure one wall and then half the distance. Do the same on the other wall and then make a mark on the floor where these measurements meet
- Use chalk to make a note of where the centre point is and where the measurements have taken place. If done correctly you will now have a quadrant that is outlined. This will effectively create four separate areas
- Once this is done you will want to begin to map out where your floor tiles are going to be laid. This is done by placing them in position, but not securing them in place using adhesive. Think of this stage as being a rehearsal stage
- Place the first tile in the corner of the quadrant nearest the centre. Any section of the quadrant is fine. In order to work systematically only one section of the quadrant should be worked in at one time
- Once you have your first tile in place, begin to lay additional tiles towards the wall. Make sure that this is done in a straight line and remember to leave small gaps between each tile
- Repeat this process until all sections of the quadrant are covered. But don’t be surprised if you encounter areas that require the tiles to be cut to specific dimensions
- Pre-cut these tiles so that they fit these awkward areas in advance. You will need to measure them where necessary and use the tile cutter to cut them
- For complex sections around piping work, you may need to remove the radiator from the wall while taking the taps off where necessary. This is arguably the hardest part when it comes to installing a ceramic floor, but it is a job well worth doing to achieve a professional finish
- Mark the back of the tile where it needs to be cut. Proceed to cut a hole slightly bigger than the pipes diameter using a diamond hole saw
- Assuming that you have cut the tiles where necessary, you should now have a floor that is well laid out but not stuck to the ground. Once you are happy with the look you can precede to the next stage
Fitting and Laying Tiles
Now that you have completed your “rehearsal” stage, you will want to apply the tiles to the floor using the tiling adhesive. This stage will require a lot of concentration, but as you have done most of the hard work it’s fairly easy to carry out.
- Remove the tiles from the positions that they have been laid out in. Now you will have room to work
- Like before, start from any corner of the quadrant, but make sure that its one near the centre of the room
- Apply tiling adhesive to surface or back of the tile using a notched trowel. Spread it evenly and make a raking pattern using the notched edge if it has one
- Set the tile in the same place as it was in during the rehearsal. Do this by firmly pressing the tile into position, but be sure not to do this is a twisting motion
- Continue to do this until a section of the quadrant has been completed, but remember to add tile spacers to the corners of each tile
- Remove these spacers after each section has been completed. This will stop the adhesive from sticking them there permanently
- Repeat this process for each section of the quadrant
By now you should have freshly laid ceramic tile flooring. This is almost ready for use, but before any pressure can be applied to its surface you will need to leave at least 24 hours for the adhesive to cure. Once this is done the final grouting stage can begin.
Grout is a fine mortar that is applied into the joints between the tiles. This promotes strength and durability, and is seen as an essential part of fitting ceramic tiles to a high standard. To apply grout evenly and effectively, it needs to be applied directly into the joints which can cause a messy appearance. This, however, is nothing to worry about as it is easily washed off.
- Follow the instructions that are outlined on your grouting product and then apply it directly into the tiling joints
- Press it firmly into the crevices using a rubber float. Skim the excess off which is likely to cause a messy appearance to your newly laid tiles. (Don’t worry about this at the moment.)
- Follow the directions and wait for the grout to cure. This will provide additional strength to your new floor
- Once the grout has cured, use a damp sponge to clean the messy hazy appearance of the tiles. This will bring them back to their original appearance
- When the grouting has been successfully carried out wait for the entire floor to cure. This can take a few days, but as soon as this is done you can begin to enjoy your newly tiled floor
As already mentioned, the key to installing a tiled floor with a quality finish is preparation. Combine this preparation with patience and persistence and you will eventually achieve the end product that you are after, whilst also saving yourself a great deal of cash in the process. However, if you have looked at this guide and feel that installing a tiled floor by you may be more trouble than it’s worth, then perhaps professional help should be sought instead. If you fall into this category then contact a professional construction company for excellent work at competitive rates.
Laying a Solid Wood Floor
A solid wood floor is arguably one of the most attractive features of any home. It is a real selling point that is not only great to look at, but it’s also extremely functional and durable as well. Unfortunately it is harder to fit than laminate flooring, but it offers character and class that its imitator cannot rival. However, despite it initially being more challenging to install, it is still a task that can be carried out by an experienced DIY enthusiast. So if you are ready for a challenge and want to save a great deal of cash, have a look at the guide below. It aims to provide a brief insight into the type of work that goes into installing solid wood floors, while also offering pointers and advice where necessary.
Fitting a solid wood floor can be carried out using four separate methods. These methods include glued down installations and wooden sub-floor installations, but for the purposes of this article only the nailed down approach will be outlined. It is the cheapest and easiest method of installation which has been used for hundreds of years, and in order to carry out this procedure you will need the items listed in the next section.
Tools and Measurements
Before any work can commence, materials will need to be purchased. However, before these can be bought, the correct measurements will need to be made. By having the correct dimensions to hand, you can buy materials in quantities that correspond to the amount of work that you intend to carry out. To do this you will need to find out the surface area of your room in m2. This figure is easy to work out as all you have to do is measure the width of your room at the widest point, and then multiply this measurement by the length of the room. This answer will be the size of your room in m2, and to cover it fully you will need to buy a sufficient amount of materials. Ideally you should tack on an extra 10% to this figure to make room for potential mistakes, but as soon as this is done you can begin to purchase materials for your new floor. You will need:
- Hardwood flooring
- Barbed flooring nails
- Tape measure
- Drill and drill bits
- Hammer and nail set
- Table saw
- Flooring nailer and nail gun
- Self-adhesive roofing felt
- Transition strips
As already mentioned installing a wooden floor is not an easy task, but assuming that you have the materials above and the perseverance to see this task through to the end you will succeed. However, before any work can commence a few preliminary factors need to be considered.
Make sure that the surface you are going to install your new flooring on is clean and dry. You should not be applying new hardwood flooring over pre-existing flooring; this will have to be removed if it hasn’t been already.
As a handy tip, it may be a good idea to use kneepads when installing this as it will involve a lot of kneeling; in fact it’s a good idea to wear kneepads throughout the whole installation process. Before you begin, it is vital to remember that all of the relevant safety procedures need to be put into practice before, after and during this task. Always wear safety goggles and gloves, and be sure to take extra care when using power tools at an absolute minimum.
Now that you have all the materials, measurements and safety procedures, you will want to install your hardwood flooring. This is just a brief guide, but the steps below will give you a good idea as to what is involved.
Firstly you will want to lay your hardwood flooring in straight lines that go across the joists, as this will ensure additional strength when they are nailed into place. So now that you have the direction in which they are going to be laid, you will want to start your first run in the corner of the room alongside the wall.
- Start in the corner of the room and lay a piece of wood so that the grooved end faces the wall. This piece of wood will have to run alongside the wall so that a row can be formed, but make sure that you leave a ½ inch gap away from the starting point
- Now that the first piece has been laid you can add additional pieces of wood onto the end of the first one. This will create a row, but remember to add wall spacers every 60cm so that a small gap is left between the walls and the wood
- When these are in a straight line and you are happy with their appearance, use a nail gun to secure them in place. To do this apply nails every 8-10 inches along both edges of the pieces of wood
- You will now have a straight line of wooden boards that have been nailed securely into place. Along the side of the boards there will be a tongue and groove joint that allows an easy connection to be made by adjacent pieces of wood. Connect these using this joint when installing the next row
- A second row of boards should now be interlocked into the first row using this tongue and groove joint. Apply nails into the sides of these boards to create extra strength, but be sure not to apply the nails into the face of the wood
- Continue to lay these boards across the whole of the room, but make sure that this is done in a staggered fashion. Staggering the boards will make the floor look a lot more appealing, while it will also increase their durability
- You will no doubt encounter areas that require boards to be cut to specific measurements. When this happens mark the area that needs to be cut, and then use a table saw to make a straight incision. This will usually happen at the end of a row, but if you come across an area that is more technically challenging, use the same method but make the cut using a jigsaw
- The final row of boards are the most likely to require pieces of wood that need to be cut to specific dimensions. Cut them using a table saw in the same way that has been looked at above, but remember to leave a ½ inch gap between the flooring and the wall. If carried out correctly you will have a ½ inch perimeter all the way around the room
- The ½ inch gap is for the floor trim that needs to be added in order to complete the finish. This is simply slotted and nailed into place. Again, some pieces of floor trim will need to be cut in order to meet specific measurements
These steps briefly outline the main stages involved with installing hardwood flooring. There are of course other methods, but as this one is generally considered the cheapest and easiest to install, it will be the method that appeals to the widest range of people. However, this does not necessarily mean that installing a floor is an easy task to undertake, especially if you have no prior experience.
If you are not that familiar with laying hardwood flooring, then perhaps this is a job that is best left to a professional. A professional building contractor will be able to guarantee an excellent end product, and can save you the hassle of installing it yourself. Whilst a hardwood floor can be laid by a DIY enthusiast, enlisting the help of someone with experience may be a better option for some people.