Seven common wood flooring mistakes and how to avoid them

Planning to lay a wood floor in your property? Find out seven common mistakes you need to avoid for the best possible results. 

Wood flooring has long been a popular choice with both homeowners and landlords, and for good reason. When done properly, wood flooring adds warmth and an enduring beauty to a home or commercial property. 

But how can you ensure that, if you have chosen wooden flooring for your property, you avoid some of the most common mistakes? The best place to start is with a handy guide to all the best types of wood, and some important dos and don’ts when it comes to laying and caring for it

And that is exactly what we will cover in this short guide to avoiding seven common wood flooring mistakes. 

Mistake 1: Choosing the wrong type of wood

One of the reason that wood floors are so popular is that they are exceptionally durable. They age well and can last for many decades if treated and looked after properly. However, not all wood floors are equal, and it is import to choose the right type of wood for your needs. 

For example, some types of wood are more durable than others and therefore more suitable for high traffic areas, such as a hallway or commercial spaces. Maple and hickory are both hard woods, which make them more sturdy, while pine is softer, and is therefore more likely to scratch easily or get dented. 

Another consideration is whether you want solid hardwood flooring or engineered wood flooring. With solid wood flooring, each plank is made from a single piece of wood. It can be sanded and finished multiple times and can last hundreds of years. However, solid wood flooring can swell and warp over time if exposed to moisture, so it’s best not to install it in damper areas, such as basements. 

Engineered wood floors are made of real wood but, rather than being formed from a solid piece of wood, each plank is manufactured from many layers of plywood with a solid piece of wood on the top for finish. 

The advantage of an engineered wood floor is that it is more stable when it comes into contact with moisture, so is a better choice for damper areas. It’s also durable and can last for several decades

The downside to engineered wood flooring is that it can’t be sanded multiple times, as eventually you’ll wear through the real wood finish and reveal the plywood below.

Mistake 2: Not letting your wood acclimate properly

Before laying a wood floor you need to allow it to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the environment for around three to five days. This will avoid issues like warping, buckling and gaps in your floor. 

This is why it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations well in advance, and certainly before booking a flooring fitter or taking a day off work to do the job.

Mistake 3: Not preparing your floor’s foundation adequately

Your wooden floor will only be as good as the foundation you lay it on. Skip this step or prepare a poor foundation and you can find yourself living with a squeaky and uneven floor – which is frustrating after all the effort and cost of laying it. 

So take the time to thoroughly check and prepare the base you will lay your wood flooring on, and ensure it is level, clean and dry before getting started. 

Mistake 4: Using the wrong installation techniques

Laying a high quality wood floor that will last you for years takes time and care, and isn’t a process you want to rush or take risks on. If you use the wrong installation techniques, like not staggering your planks, not leaving enough expansion gaps, or using the wrong adhesive or fasteners, you may live to regret it. 

To avoid this mistake, make sure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines with care. If you don’t think you’re up to the job, it’s wiser to invest in hiring a professional flooring fitter than having a go yourself. 

Mistake 5: Not maintaining your floor

Wooden floors may be forgiving, but even the hardest flooring needs some love and attention if you want it to look good and last. So make sure you keep your floors clean (using a wood-friendly cleaning product) and clear up any spills quickly. 

If your wood floor starts to look dull or damaged over time, it might be time to reseal or refinish it. 

Mistake 6: Not protecting your floor with furniture pads

If you place heavy furniture directly on wood floors without adequate protection, you have to expect that your floor will become scratched and dented over time. To avoid this happening, place felt or rubber furniture pads under the legs of your furniture, and check and replace them when needed.

Mistake 7: Not controlling moisture levels

And finally, as we’ve already covered when looking at the type of flooring you can choose, wood reacts to moisture. If you live in an area with high humidity levels, or your home is prone to moisture or damp, you might notice your flooring expanding or warping. 

Equally, if you live in a particularly low humidity area or dry home – perhaps you light fires often, or keep the heating or air conditioning cranked up high – you may find your wood floors shrinking, cracking or even rotting. 

To avoid either of these scenarios happening, you can use use a hygrometer to check humidity levels and, if required, use a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep the moisture levels in your home within the recommended range.

Look after your wood floors and they’ll repay you with years of beautiful wear

Wood floors are a wise investment for your home. Not only do they look beautiful and stylish but, if treated well, will last you for decades. So make sure you take care when choosing, laying and caring for your wood floors. Take the time to give your wood floors love, and they’ll repay you many times over.