Preparing the Under Floor for New Flooring
Whatever type of flooring you choose it will need to be laid on a sub-floor that is smooth, clean, level and dry. Problems such as damp or rot cannot be ignored and will need to be cured before you start work.
There are several ways to level an uneven sub-floor:
• Cover with flooring-gradeor . Lay the latter smooth side uppermost if you will be covering with , or rough side uppermost to give a better grip for underlay and soft floorings.
• Use a floor-levelling compound. This comes as a powder that is mixed and poured over the floor, where it finds its own level and sets.
• Dig up and re-screed. These are both jobs for the professional.
Old floorboards are likely to be uneven and may have been cut to install pipes and cables. If these are to be covered with a soft or resilient flooring, the ridges will show through as wear in the new flooring, even with an underlay.
Prepare old floorboards in the following way:
• Fill wide gaps with fillets of wood and narrow gaps with papier mache.
• Repair or replace any damaged boards.
• Punch down nail heads (at least 3 mm (1/8 in) below the surface if you are going to sand).
• Screw down any loose boards (checking beneath for cables and pipes).
Tips of the trade
• Always buy the best quality flooring you can afford. Price is usually a good guide — if a good carpet is beyond your budget, look at cheaper alternatives rather than very cheap carpets.
• When levelling a floor with chipboard or hardboard panels, stagger the joins so they do not align with existing boards. Remember to leave some ‘trap doors’ to allow for any future access.
• Old floorboards can be turned over — the underside should be smooth and the wood aged and seasoned. Call on professionals to do this as it is a major job and will involve removing and replacing skirting boards (baseboards).
• When painting, staining or tiling a floor, start in the corner furthest away from the door and work backwards towards the door opening.
• Where two different floorings meet at a doorway, you may have to install a threshold. Metal ones look very utilitarian, so use wooden ones, which are easy to stain or paint to match the floor or décor.
• To create an impression of space, use a similar flooring, or the same colour flooring throughout — particularly effective in small flats or apartments, and bungalows.
• Never lay new carpet on top of old carpet or underfelt, as the worn areas will quickly work through to the new carpet.
• Don’t be tempted to pour concrete over an existing hard floor you don’t like —this will damage it for ever. Calling in a salvage company will save it for someone who likes it and also boost the budget towards your new flooring.
• Try to use manufacturers’ ownor sealants.
• Always ask about aftercare instructions, to avoid spoiling a good floor with the wrong treatment.
"Always aim to work with what you have already got. Reclaim and restore existing floors for an authentic look".