Fitting Guide DIY

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The following are general fitting instructions relavent to Cathedral flooring and most other types of hardwood Flooring.

Site Conditions



Ideal fitting environment
Prior to the work commencing all wet trades should be finished and the site should be closed and dry with the heating on.
All new plaster, screeds etc should be dry.
It is advisable for all other trades to be finished including decorating to insure that the new floor is safe from damage after installation from workmen and tools. The environment (humidity and temperature) to the rooms should be as close as possible to that expected when the building is occupied. The work area should be empty of all items apart from your tools and materials.
Installation over a concrete or screed slab
As a rule of thumb, it takes 4 weeks for the first inch of floor screed to dry, 4 weeks for the second inch of floor screed and 6 extra weeks for the 3rd inch. (i.e. 8 weeks drying time for a 2 inch screed and 14 weeks for a 3 inch screed).
Cathedral Flooring can be successfully installed over a concrete or screed slab under certain conditions.
The slab must be dry,
A trapped hygrometer test is a good way of testing the screed for the degree of dryness. Any damp or moisture source of any kind should be eradicated.
All plumbing should be checked for leaks.
Hot pipes below the new wood floor should be insulated. Sources of heat under the floor should be diffused if
Any pipe work unfinished should be pressure tested.
Heating should be commissioned for at least two weeks
before fitting commences.
The temperature and humidity of the building should be
equal to the conditions of occupancy during and following
the installation i.e. 40-55%.
The existing floor surface should be flat with inaccuracies
of not more than 3mm in a 2400mm span. If this is
not follwed you may find that the floor bounces and
does not sit flat. Providing this is not too bad it may
eventually settle.
The flooring to be laid must not be exposed to excessive
periods of high humidity or moisture.
After installation and during the first 2 months of
occupancy the heating should be kept at a suitable level
high enough to keep moisture levels low but low enough
not to reduce the floors moisture content to rapidly as this
may encourage distortion in the boards.
In joist construction to ground floors without a basement,
outside cross flow ventilation through vents in the
foundation walls must be provided with no dead air
areas.It is advisable to insulate between the joist.
Tests for moisture in a slab as
published by N.O.F M.A
1. The rubber mat test
Lay a smooth bottomed rubber mat on the slab.
Place a weight in the middle such as a bucket of sand.
Leave for at least 24 hours.
If when the mat is removed there is a dark patch, too much
moisture is present.
This test is worthless if the slab surface is other than light
in colour originally.
2. Polyethylene film test
Tape a one foot square of clear polyethylene to the slab
sealing the edges with moisture resisting tape. If after 24
hours no condensation is visible the slab can be
considered dry enough to lay the floor.
3. Calcium Chloride test
Place a quarter of a teaspoon of Calcium Chloride crystals
in a 3 inch diameter putty ring on the slab.
Press a glass into the ring to form a sealed containment.
If the crystals dissolve within 12 hours the slab is too wet.
4. Phenolphthalein test
Put several drops of Phenolphthalein solution in grain
alcohol at various spots on the slab. If a red colour
appears in a few minutes, to much moisture is present.
5. Hygrometer test
To test that the floor is dry enough to lay a wooden floor
you must do a trapped hygrometer test. Place a
hygrometer on the floor directly on top of the screed, cover
with polystyrene blocks, cover again with plastic and tape
to the floor. After 12 hours check the meter. If the reading
is over 75% the floor is too wet to lay. Do this test on at
least 2 areas of the floor. Doing this you are measuring the
escaping moisture.

Setting out
Because timber expands at a far greater rate across the grain rather than in the length it is good practice to lay the floor in the longest direction of the room. It also looks better. If you lay it across the shorter span it tends to look as if you had a larger room and divided it with a new wall.
Another thing to consider is the direction of natural light. If possible it is better for the light to shine along the boards rather than across them. Sometimes a trade off is required as these two statements sometimes contradict each other.We suggest to play safe and go for the length of the roomchoice. If the room has a full length straight wall this is probably the best place to start.This is seldom the case. If you do have a full length wall it will probably not be straight. Fig 1


fig1 copy


Do not worry! If the wall is not straight, set out a start line
the width of the boards + the width of the expansion gap
minus the depth of the most protruding part of the wall.
e.g. Board width is 140mm and the expansion gap is
15mm (140mm + 15mm = 155mm) and the protruding part
of the wall is 20mm (155mm – 20mm = 135mm) the start
line should be no more than 135mm from the most
protruding part of the wall. Some of the infill boards will
now fit into place leaving the expansion gap and some will
need to be scribed into place (shaped into place). (Fig 1)
Use short lengths of board to space the floor from the wall
so that the floor is supported as you fit it together.
Lay 3 runs up and down the line and leave for 30 minutes
for the glue to set before continuing if you are laying as a
floating floor. This forms a solid panel which stops the floor
from coming apart when you really get going.
Sometimes there may not seem to be an obvious place
to start.
Fig 2
For instance there might be a hearth to a fireplace in the
way (Fig 2). This really does not matter because where
ever you start it is possible to brace off the walls to support
the laying of the floor and then work backwards to the
walls afterwards.
To reverse lay a secret fixed floor you will need loose
Fig 3
If the room is square and the walls are straight then lay 3
runs (as described earlier) and use wedges to hold the
floor 15mm away from the walls to allow for the expansion
gap. (Fig 3)
Tools and equipment
Trade and professionals – those who want to be
Chop saw, Jig saw, Fein cutter, Router, Electric tenon saw,
Screw guns, Pistol drill, 4” belt sander, Orbital sander,
Porter nailer, Biscuit cutter, Strap clamps, Draw bar, Hand
saw, Skil saw, Tape measure, Hammer, Square, pin
punch, Chisels, Drill bits, Vacuum cleaner
Jig saw, New sharp hand saw, T Square, Power drill,
Hammer, Pin punch, Tape measure, Strap clamps, Orbital
sander, Pencil, Screw drivers, 12mm chisel

General fitting guidelines
The work area must be completely clear of obstructions.
The floor must be scraped and swept clean. Check the
floor for flatness before commencing to establish any high
spots. In the cases of badly uneven floors. Latex self
levelling screed may be needed to level the floor. If this is
not follwed you may find that the floor bounces and
does not sit flat. Providing this is not too bad it may
eventually settle.
Preparation Work
Expansion; Timber expands and contract due to changes
in humidity.
For this reason it is necessary to allow expansion gaps to
the perimeter of timber floors and some times within the
floor itself. To be on the safe side10mm expansion per 1m
run across the boards is required.
This means that a 3m wide room will have 30mm of
expansion allowance.
Although timber expands and contracts far greater across
the grain than it does along the grain there should still be
expansion to the ends of the floor. Expansion gaps should
be left clear. Do not fill them with cork.
In theory, (given the average domestic width of room at
3.5m wide) if you could physically sit in the centre of the
finished floor and move it, you should be able to move the
floor in any direction 15mm. This means that any
obstructions such as radiator pipes which pass through
the floor should have expansion around them.
Although Cathedral Flooring is so much more stable
than natural flooring we still recommend that you follow
the fitting guidelines herein.
Expansion can be built into the width of the floor by laying
with washer gaps between the boards if the need arises.
(Fig 4). In the case of Cathedral Flooring this is for
appearances rather than necessity.
Fig 4
It is sometimes required to remove skirtings and cut back
plaster or dry lining to allow extra expansion. (Fig 5)
Fig 5
The normal expansion allowance around radiator pipes
is 15mm because the cover rings need to cover the
gap. (Fig 6)
Fig 6
It is important to check around the radiator pipes
periodically to make sure the floor does not expand onto
It may be required to ease the floor in front of them to
allow further expansion in time.
Insulate any hot water pipes that run under the floor.
Mark doors for cutting to length before
removing them.
Fig 7
Place an off cut of the flooring to the base of the door and
hold a pencil flat to the face. (Fig 7)
Mark the door all the way across. Repeat this with the
door in different opening positions.
This should give you a clearance cut line about 4 – 5mm
above the new finished floor level.
Now remove doors and set aside ready for cutting.
Undercut door linings to allow free
movement for expansion.
Fig 8
Expansion must be allowed under door linings. (Fig 8)
Place an off cut of flooring at the base of the lining flat to
the floor.
Holding a sharp saw flat to the face off the off cut cut the
lining and architrave and also 45mm of the abutting
skirting if it is existing. Professionals might use a fein
cutter or electric tenon saw to make this task quicker and
Remove the timber beneath the saw cut with a very
sharp chisel.
Sometimes it is necessary to nibble away the corner of the
studwork or masonry behind the lining to achieve a full
15mm expansion gap.
Sub-floor condition
The work area must be completely clear of obstructions.
The floor must be scraped and swept clean. Check the
floor for flatness before commencing to establish any high
spots. In the cases of badly uneven floors latex self
levelling screed may be needed to level the floor.
Underlay and D.P.M
An underlay must be installed between the wood floor and
sub-floor and must also wrap up the wall to protect the
edge of the floor. This acts as an insulator and buffer.
This must be sealed at all joints with a moisture resistant
On any ground floor a damp proof membrane (DPM) must
be used with 200mm overlaps sealed with tape also and
turned up the wall.
It is best to lay the insulation first and then the D.P.M. This
way any possible condensation will be decreased.
A Floating Floor
A floating floor is a floor that is laid over a existing timber
or solid floor without being mechanically fix down, eg
nailed or screwed.The floor is fixed together in such a way
that it becomes one big sheet and is held down by its own
When using solid Hardwood flooring it is advisable for the
boards not to exceed 100mm in width as wider boards are
more likely to cup. If wider boards are preferred a fix
method of installation is needed. This is obviously not
necessary when using Cathedral Flooring.
An expansion gap must be maintained around the
perimeter including under door linings etc to allow for
expansion. An expansion gap must also be allowed
around any radiator pipes etc which pass through the
If the floor is restricted from expanding it will raise and
become springy.
This expansion gap is covered when the skirtings or
beads are fixed.
Boards can be fixed together by gluing the top of the
tounge and the bottom of the groove (Fig 9) or by
screwing or nailing to a batten which itself is not fixed
down (Fig 10).
Fig 9
Floating Floor (Raft System)
Fig 10
Fig 11
If the concrete slab is flat and level, polystyrene can be
used as a substitute for the screed to make up the levels
(Fig 11). This can save drying time and also provide extra
Floating Floor
Lay the floor by gluing together all four edges. Apply
the glue to the top of the tounge and the bottom of the
groove. (Refer to setting out)
Some times you may have difficulty pushing the boards
together due to a vacuum being caused in the groove by
the glue trapping in air. To stop this from happening apply
200mm lines of glue with 25mm gaps between them.
This will allow air to escape and then the glue will spread
along the gaps.
If the glue squeezes out on top of the floor you may be
using to much glue, but be sure to use enough.
Lay 3 runs and leave for 30 minutes for the glue to set
before continuing.
This forms a solid panel which stops the floor from coming
apart when you really get going.
Strap clamps are very useful for pulling the boards tightly
Check that the butt joints are tight. A pull bar is useful for
tapping up the last board. (Fig 12)
Fig 12
If possible work with the tongues pointing towards you.
When tapping up the boards use an off-cut of flooring
between the hammer and the tongue to stop the tongues
from being damaged. If the tongues become damaged it
will be necessary to remove the damaged part with a
sharp chisel.
If you hammer against the groove side of the board and
cause damage you will have to discard that board.
Make sure you stagger the header joints of the boards for
the best appearance. Try not to get too many header joints
in line as you look across the floor. The closest the header
joints should be is twice the width of the boards.
For ease of sanding make sure the header joints are at
least 200mm away from the walls on the ends of the
Method of cutting scribes / infills to walls
Fig 13
A and B are the last two full width boards laid (Fig 13)
Place a spare board c on top of b so that it lines up
perfectly in width.
Using a piece of flooring cut to length 15mm longer than
the width of the boards and held against the wall mark
board c to be cut. e is the face width of the piece of
flooring that when laid in the remaining gap will leave a
15mm parallel expansion gap.
The scribing block d is always cut – the width of the
flooring + the expansion gap required.
Stair scribe
Don’t forget to allow expansion to the bottom of stairs by
under cutting the bottom step. (Fig 14)
The load on the bottom step will rest on and be
transposed through the hardwood floor to the subfloor or
packing shims.
Joints between doors
The floor must be separated by an expansion gap
between rooms to allow each area to move freely. (Fig 15)
If this is not done the compounding expansion may cause
The expansion can be covered by a surface threshold
fixed to one floor only and held down by the door stops.
Fig 15
Door opening between two wood floors with dividing
expansion joint from stone to wood or wood to wood.
Intersection of wood flooring to stone
This can be achieved by keeping the wood surface 7mm
higher than the stone and rebating it to allow the wood to
expand and contract.
Fig 16
Door opening onto wood floor away from stone or tile.
(Fig 16)
Wide floors and expansion
– Secret fixed floors. (Not relevant to Cathedral flooring)
Fig 17
Sometimes there is the need to allow for expansion within
the width of the floor because the perimeter expansion
allowance will not be enough. (Fig 17)
This can be achieved by using washers to space the
boards as they are laid.
It is advisable to leave the washers in for a few rows and
bring the back row forward as you add moor boards.
This stops the gaps closing up as you tap up the new
Expansion around hearths (Fig 18)
Methods of jointing end boards, thresholds
etc to the floor.
Usually required in doorways. (Fig 19)
Fig 19
Fig 20
Many types of fitting can be made from the flooring section
you are using. (Fig 20)
If you are using the Cathedral range of flooring the choice
is more limited but fittings made from solid wood of the
same type will match.
Shop bought fitting are OK but fittings made from the
material you are using are an exact match and can be
made to suit any detail. It is sometimes necessary to
biscuit joint the fittings to the floor as the existing tongue
and grooves on the sections will not work in some cases.
Threshold details depend on the adjoining floor types.
Each doorway has to be considered individually according
to how the floor intersects it.
Various details of finishing to doors
Fig 21
Door opening away from wood floor onto Lino or other low
level surface. (Fig 21)
Fig 22
Door opening away from wood floor onto carpet or tile etc.
(Fig 22)
Expansion gaps
After the flooring has been laid and sanded, the expansion
gaps need to be concealed.
The way this is achieved depends on the width of the gap.
In some cases a skirting will do fine. (Fig 26)
Fig 23
Sometimes the skirtings are existing and a toe bead can
be used. (Fig 25)
The advantage of a toe bead is that it is simple to remove
without causing damage to decoration and therefore if
over expansion of the floor occurs the floor can be simply
trimmed without too much hassle.
If skirting have to be removed they sometimes have to be
replaced due to damage in getting them off and redecoration
will be required.
In some instances as showed above it will be necessary
cut back plaster work and use both skirting and toe bead
to allow maximum expansion. (Fig 23)
Fitting Trim
Fig 25
Fig 26
Fig 27
Fig 28
Stairs and steps
Fig 24
When the nosing is removed the structure of the stair is
For this reason it is very important that the new riser is
glued and pined to the old riser and the end of the old
tread. The new nosing is then pined and glued to the new
tread and riser as shown. (Fig 24)
The structure is then re-strengthened.
Fittings between levels
Fig 29
Fig 30
Finishing to exterior door thresholds
opening out
Fig 31
Fig 32
Fig 33
Fig 34
Finishing to exterior door thresholds
opening in
Fig 35
Fig 36
Fig 37
Expansion gaps around radiator pipes are covered by
radiator rings.
These come in two halves which are pushed together onto
the pipe and connected by small dowels.
Mat Wells
Fig 38
Various methods of fitting mat wells. If you put a coir mat
in the well this can be bought in up to 1.5 m wide rolls in
any length. Then cut to fit. You will find that the surface of
the mat will be the same as your floor. (Fig 38)
Fixed Floors
Fig 39
You can also fix direct to joists (Fig 39). However a
minimum of 6mm ply (another option is to use 18mm
chipboard as this may be cheaper, but remember the
thickness buildup) as an intermediate layer is required to
support the butt joints of the boards which may land
between joists. The ply is required to be fixed to the joists.
By putting down ply or chipboard it will enable the other
trades (plasters, decorators etc) to complete there work
quicker and safely prior to the hardwood floor being
The absence of the need to cut the lengths of flooring
back to the joist supports means a greatly reduced waste
factor in the use of the floor. Chipboard etc is cheaper than
hardwood flooring!
Fig 40
It is possible to fix your ply sheets direct to the screed.
This is not necessary but some builders feel happier doing
it this way. It will not have a detrimental effect on the floor.
Fig 41
Floors can also be screwed and plugged direct to the
screed. The advantage f this is that it saves the height
(20mm wood and 20mm of ply). (Fig 41)
But it is very time consuming. Not for the faint hearted.

Floor Finishing
Sand floor to required finish working up in 40, 60, 80, 100
grit abrasives.
Apply floor finish.
Ensure all expansion gaps are free of any obstructions
before fitting skirtings etc.
Do not place cork in expansion gaps.
Protect new floor if required.
Do not fix down any part of the floor to the sub floor if you
are laying a floating floor.
Thresholds are usually made on site from the boards
being used to suit.
Purpose made thresholds can be supplied on request.
Sanding and finishing Cathedral Oak
Cathedral floor is pre-sanded and filled at the factory.
This finish in most cases will be acceptable to DIY users.
A minimal sanding is required on the job for the best finish.
This can be done with orbital sanders for DIY.
Only experienced and skilled professionals should use
Drum sanders if they wish.
An excellent and dust free finish is achieved with the
industrial Laiger Trio Disc sanding machine working
through 60, 80 and 100 grit discs.
The floor can then be finished in a variety of colours and
We would strongly recommend Danish Oil as a low
maintenance and natural finish. Unlike linseed oil Danish
oil drys to a hard finish and does not stay “sticky”.
The floor will change darker in colour when sealed. This is
due to the way light is reflected out of the timber and not
to any colouring in the natural oil.
Danish Oil can be mixed with compatible wood dye to
produce many colours and shades within the first one or
two coats if required. We would recommend doing test
samples and then when you are happy with the stain
appearance – thin it down even more. You can always add
a second coat but you can not take one off! If using it as a
colour oil at least two coats of clear oil must be applied
over the top.
Water applied to the bear timber will give the same colour
appearance when wet as Danish oil. This is one way of
testing in a small area the colour the floor will be when
If a more contemporary look is required an acrylic (water
based) lacquer can be used.
After drying the floor will return back to a close likeness of
the floor as it looks when bear.
All you need to do is sweep the floor, vacuum it and
occasionally wipe with a damp, wrung out cloth. You can
add a little mild cleaning fluid (with a maximum of pH8) to
the water. Wipe up any spills immediately to ensure that
no marks are left on the floor.
Lacquered flooring
If you have a stain on the floor try and clean it with a little
washing up fluid and warm water. If the stain does not
come off then try a little methylated spirit, petroleum spirit
or thinners (always try a small area in an out of the way
place just to make sure it does not have an effect on the
lacquer). Felt pads under table and chair legs will prevent
them from scratching the floor. A doormat both outside
and inside the front door will help keep the dirt and grit
away from your floor.
If the floor becomes scratched and dull then it is time to
sand lightly and apply another coat of lacquer. The floor
does not need to be sanded back to the bare wood and all
scratches removed, just the surface needs sanding
(keying) so that the new coat has something to grip to.