Laying Floor Boards - How to Cut and Fit Floor Boarding

Summary: How to lay floorboards. This is a guide to how to plan, cut and lay floor boarding. We will show you how to get a great finish even when your room is not square and you have to cut the floor boards down.

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There are very few "square" rooms. The diagram below represents a typical room, within which the dotted lines represent a square section of the room. 1 and 2 are the walls of the room while A,B,C etc are the floorboards. D and G are the probable shape of cuts you will need to make.

Once your joists are in place and level as described above, floor boards can be fixed. It is important that the boards run at right angles to the joists regardless of the shape of the room and the first thing to do is set out the room so that you will get the first board down in the correct position. Using the 3,4,5 method of obtaining a right angle, which is fully explained in our Tips and Tricks pages, starting a project you will be able to mark a line across the new joists running between the points marked x on the diagram. We suggest a chalk line for this. See our using a chalk line project

It is also important that you work out the width of the room compared to the number of floorboards it will take to cover it. Measure carefully, or even use an offcut of board, marking the position of boards on a joist. This is to make sure you have a sensible cut at each end and not a full board at one end and a ½ inch cut at the other. Additional "trimming joists" may have to be inserted around fireplaces, chimneys etc to make sure the end of each board is well supported.

Lay your first board through the room, next to board A. Then, measuring carefully, mark and lay boards A, B, & C. Do not fix these last three boards. Laying the last boards, D and G against the walls 1 and 2, is a difficult job and can only be done properly if two or three boards, including the cuts, are pushed together and laid as one.

Work across the room fixing each board by your preferred method, until you get to board F. Then lay F, E and D, together with the cut G, in one go.

Floor Plan of floor joists

Floor plan of floor joists

Cutting shapes:

Cuts D and G can be effected by, having laid A, B, C and D, E, F in position, unfixed, laying a full board against the walls 1 and 2, and marking the other side of the board onto boards C and D. This will give you the exact shape and size of the cut. Remove the marked boards, C and D and cut out the shape you have marked on them. Two new boards will be needed to replace them, while the cuts you have made are inserted at the same time. Remember to make allowance for the tongue on each board when you mark.

Marking Floorboards for Cutting

Marking Floorboards for Cutting

For some short films on "laying a wood floor", go to our video section on hardwood flooring by clicking on the link.

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