Timber is a beautiful material that most homeowners the world over dream of using in their homes. Whether it’s in the form of furniture, outdoor living structures, or as a flooring option, it’s not surprising why people flock to timber. With its natural resilience and character, it adds both elegance and value to any home. And with timber floors, homeowners are spoilt for choice, with a wide range of options available that can be installed by your trusted local contractor or, if you’ve got the time and confidence, can even be DIY-ed to cut costs if needed. But if you’re on the fence about DIY-ing your timber floor, here are some things to consider before you make the decision!
Table of Contents
- Think about what kind of timber flooring you’re after
- Consider the logistics
- Set yourself up for success
- Tips for DIY-ing your floor
Think about what kind of timber flooring you’re after
The original timber flooring, solid timber is made from solid hardwood planks. Heavy and resilient, thick solid timber flooring can actually be used as a structural floor, with a thinner overlay solid timber flooring put on top. Otherwise, these are usually fixed to the subfloor, and it needs to be sanded and polished upon installation.
Engineered flooring is a budget-friendly yet resilient option if you’re not wanting solid timber. This is made from real timber veneer on top of a plywood supporting board, and is either fixed onto the subfloor with adhesive, or floated on a foam underlay. Engineered timber flooring installation can be quicker than solid timber, especially since most of it comes pre-finished.
Laminate is made from multiple layers of pressed wood, with an image of timber on top that is covered by melamine. While stable and highly-resistant, some homeowners tend to forgo this option for real timber top layers for a better feel. These are usually installed as a floating floor on a foam underlay and can be quick to install as it requires no refinishing or polishing.
Consider the logistics
Floor spaces differ from room to room, and floorboards are available in different widths and lengths, too. So it’s important to do an assessment of your floor space and try to visualise what size floorboards would work in the area: from 80mm-wide to 180mm wide.
Flooring can actually make or break a space, so it’s important to have a good think about how it will accentuate and complement your interior design once installed. Colour or the blend of colours on the wood is very dependent on the species you’re using, with european oak types having lighter, blonder shades and local Australian types having a wide range, such as jarrah with its red and brown shades. And of course, when you’re looking at specific species, you’re also looking at the character the wood has, whether it’s got a lot of veins and knots, or is more minimal in its appearance.
Make sure to look at your interiors, from furniture, windows, and walls, and make sure that colours won’t clash. Specific styles go with specific shades, so read up on timber flooring style guides to help you choose, too.
Set yourself up for success
DIY-ing timber flooring installation can be a time-consuming process, from deciding which floorboards to install and preparing your space, to actually installing and cleaning up afterwards. It makes it a little easier if you’ve already got some floor installation experience under your belt, because you would already have some idea of how a DIY job goes.
However, if you don’t have much experience or don’t have anyone who is experienced that can help, DIY-ing your timber flooring may not be advisable as incorrect installation techniques can lead to recurring issues like gaps, peaks and cupping, which would be annoying when you’ve invested in high-quality timber floorboards and want your floors looking flawless.
Tools and equipment
Budget constraints may be leading you to look at DIY-ing your floors so you can save a little on installation costs. But DIY comes with its own set of costs, too: correct tools are required to successfully install timber flooring, from jigsaws and sanders. From big to small items, you may have to pay out of pocket or hire items to be able to install your floors, and this can actually add up in the end.
Professional installations are usually quicker than we expect, and they make it look easy, too! But keep in mind that that ease and speed of installation is because these are people with experience and expertise, and installing a DIY floor can actually be a very time consuming process that can take weeks, especially when you need to prep beforehand and clean up after.
In the end, if you’ve got the confidence to install your own flooring, you know yourself best. Floorboards are a significant investment that, if installed well and maintained properly, can last for many years to come. So make sure that you know what needs to be done and speak to a professional if you’ve got questions .
Tips for DIY-ing your floor
Flooring needs to adapt to the environment of the room. While it might be easier (and quicker!) to install as soon as possible, solid wood needs to be left in the room it will be installed in for a few days with their boxes open and slightly raised above ground. This helps the timber’s moisture content adjust and helps to minimise humidity effects on the floor once installed. Engineered wood doesn’t need to acclimate, however, though professionals still advise to do it anyway to limit shifting in the wood.
Learn how to install
Different timber flooring types have different ways of installation. Solid timber flooring requires a wooden subfloor, while engineered wood can be glued to the subfloor or even mounted as a floating floor, too. Make sure to look at the manufacturer’s instructions and double check what installation methods are necessary for your chosen flooring.
Prepare the space
Check the subfloor and make sure it’s dry, clean, and flat if the room is new and has not had any flooring installed as of yet. If you’ve got existing flooring and are installing over it, make sure that the doors can open and close freely when you install, and that appliances and worktops remain level, too. Measure the room and make sure to add 5% to the figures for a cutting allowance, and apply chalk lines as a guide to balance the room easier.
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to install, and make use of handy youtube video tutorials to help you visualise what you need to do. Be careful when installing planks, and make sure to position the planks parallel to the longest wall of the room. Some planks may need some modifying, such as trimming to fit smaller gaps. Finishing stages are really significant, so make sure you’re careful when you’re doing it so that when you’re done, it’ll look like it was done professionally!