If this is the first time you’ve laid a hardwood or bamboo floor, it’s natural to wonder in what direction the floorboards should run. Although it may not seem obvious, laying your floorboards in the right direction actually adds a lot to the overall look of the finished floor. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to lay your hardwood floor so that the finished product looks like it was done by a pro …
Check Out Your Joists
If you’re laying your new floor in a home that has a wooden subfloor, the first thing to consider is the direction of the floor joists that support it. In most cases, the wise choice is to go perpendicular across the floor joists and allow them to support the new floor as well as the subfloor. If you go parallel to the joists, you’ll end up with areas of flooring that aren’t fully supported. Over time, this can lead to the subfloor sagging in between the joists, and if the subfloor sags, it could potentially cause your hardwood floor to buckle leading to the joints breaking. Obviously, that’s not the outcome you’re after! That leads to the need to replace floor boards, and a new finish for the entire floor would be necessary so that everything matches.
Tip: Once you’ve determined the direction and position of the floor joists, mark them on the wall where the base molding will hide them when you install it. This will allow you to measure 4′ in from each end of the long wall, mark your measurements, and then snap a chalk line between the two marks on the underlayment to serve as a guideline when you’re laying your first rows of boards, keeping them straight and parallel to the wall. (Note: It’s a good idea to measure from your marks to the opposite wall, too. If the measurement is the same, the walls are parallel. If it’s not, you’ll need to adjust your guidelines to account for the difference.)
Your New Floor and Your Front Door
If you’re laying a hardwood floor near your front door, you may want to consider laying it so the boards run perpendicular to the entrance, if you can. Why? Laying the boards in this way allows them to flow naturally with traffic and just looks better.
Consider the Dimensions of the Room
If you’re laying your new floor in one particular room, like a bedroom, for instance, it’s wisest to lay the floorboards parallel to the longest wall in the room. If you lay them perpendicular instead, and the room is somewhat long and narrow, your floor will end up resembling a ladder!
You can always opt to lay your floor on the diagonal or choose an interesting pattern like a herringbone. Patterns can add depth and dimension to a room and are unquestionably beautiful when done correctly. If you choose this option, though, you’ll need to consider a couple of important factors:
- It’ll cost you more since you’ll need to add 15% (as opposed to the usual 10%) extra material to account for cutting and waste.
- Patterns, especially complicated ones like herringbone, really require a seasoned hand to lay, so it’s probably not a wise choice if this is your first go-round at laying a hardwood floor.
Think About the Light Source
If you’re installing your new hardwood flooring in a room with lots of natural light, you may want to consider running the boards in the direction of the light. That’s because if you run them perpendicular to the light source, the light will run across each individual joint, and any slight variation in the height of the boards will show up and cast a small shadow. Running your floor in the same direction as the light source eliminates this problem and results in a better-looking floor.
Some Handy Tips for DIYers
- At floor heating registers, make sure to cut your boards to fit the opening before installing them.
- If you’re abutting a fireplace hearth, miter the boards to create a neat border that will frame it. Glue the boards in place and then face nail* them. You might also think about gluing the ends of any boards that fit snugly against the hearth.
*If you are faced to nail by hand, be sure to drill a small pilot hole in the surface of the floor board, then drive a finishing nail in until its head almost reaches floor level. Finish driving the nail using a hammer and a nail set. Afterward, fill the hole with wood putty and wipe away any excess.
Consider a Bamboo Floor
If you haven’t yet purchased your flooring, consider the advantages a bamboo floor offers. Besides the fact that it’s as attractive as any hardwood flooring, it’s also way harder than almost any hardwood you can think of. It’s also a greener alternative since bamboo is a grass that grows immeasurably faster than a replanted hardwood tree. (We’re talking about 4 years vs. decades!)
Ambient Bamboo Floors is your number one source for affordable bamboo flooring with the best quality you’ll find anywhere! (We’re not kidding — do an internet search and see for yourself!) Plus, we use only premium raw materials like Moso bamboo, which is aged 5-7 years, and all of our bamboo is sourced from FSC-certified and well-managed forests. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, so you can feel confident you’re dealing with a reputable and reliable company. We love our bamboo flooring, and we think — no we know — you will too!