Fitting & Installation of engineered flooring

Correctly fitting your bespoke Rafe Olsen engineered wood floor is the most important aspect of the whole process. Despite having an excellent relative stability in the majority of environments, if certain steps and processes are not followed correctly, the results can be severely damaging. Below you will find details of the fitting guidelines included with every pack of flooring. This is also available to download or view online here.

At this point it is critical to say that our recommendation is for all Rafe Olsen floors to be fitted by an expert carpenter or floor fitter. Our flooring can be fitted as part of a DIY project but a comprehensive level of carpentry knowledge is required.

Site condition considerations

The site where the floor is to be installed must be weather tight, heating system in operation and all wet trade work must be fully dry. Any damp problems must be remedied in advance of installation. At the time of installation (and thereafter) conditions should be within the range expected when the building is in its intended use. The Relative Humidity (RH) of the air should be between 45% and 65% RH and the temperature should fall between 18 and 21 degrees Centigrade. The installer or owner assumes all responsibility for the final inspection of both the site suitability and product quality prior to installation. If there are questions about the suitability of the site prior to installation, please wait until they are answered before fitting the flooring. Claims of any nature will not be accepted if a fault was visibly noticeable prior to installation.

before installation

Structural Engineered Flooring generally does not require a long period of acclimatisation in the room it is to be installed in. However, good practice would determine that the floor be placed in the desired room for 48-72 hours prior to fitting. Warranty conditions dictate that the flooring is to remain in the sealed packaging prior to the day of installation.

underfloor heating

Engineered Flooring is, in most cases, generally fine to be laid over underfloor heating systems. However, it is recommended that you contact your underfloor heating supplier or a qualified heating installer to check whether their systems are compatible with wood flooring installations.

substrate floors

This flooring can be laid on most types of substrate flooring which is clean, dry and level. Examples include: sand and cement screeds, timber floor boards, chipboard, ply, ash-felt and bitumen. It is the responsibility of the flooring installer or owner to check that the site conditions are in a satisfactory state for the flooring to be laid. Notes of the moisture readings should be taken before work commences.

Concrete & Screed Sub Floors: It is vital that the installer checks the moisture content of the concrete/screed to satisfy themselves that the sub floor is dry enough for the flooring to be laid. If measured directly with a moisture meter, the moisture content should not exceed 4%. Or the relative humidity of the air over the screed should fall between 45% and 65% at a temperature of 18-21oC. The screed must be levelled to a tolerance of 3mm under a 3000mm straight edge.

Timber Sub Floors: Floor boards, plywood or battens are suitable for installing engineered wood flooring on top of. If installing over the top of joists, please check there is adequate ventilation as per the UK Building Regulations. The same 3mm tolerance applies.

NB: If installing over existing tongue and groove flooring, make sure all old boards are secure and free of disease and infestation. It is recommended to lay the new flooring at 90o to the sub layer in order to stabilise any possible movement from below.

installation method

Firstly we highly recommend that all of our floors are installed by a professional flooring installer or contractor by either nailing or full stick down methods. Assuming the preceding criteria have been met and a professional has been employed, please find below details of fitting considerations and guidelines:

1, Undercut the bottom of door frames etc to allow for the flooring to fit underneath it. Always work with a 15mm expansion gap around the full perimeter of the room.

2, Open 4 or 5 packs (where possible) and ‘shuffle’ the boards to ensure an even distribution of colour and character.

3, The industry standard of 5% waste applies for defects and cuts.

4, If you discover a defective board, DO NOT LAY IT! You or your fitter is the final judge of what is acceptable at the fitting stage. Rafe Olsen will not be responsible for costs associated with installing, finishing and/or replacing a board(s) that has been fitted with obvious defects.

5, Ideally boards should be laid ‘end on’ to the incoming daylight. The first board should be laid groove to the wall, allowing for a minimum expansion of 15mm between the board and wall. Do not butt up boards against ANY fixed construction, such as, walls, door frames, fireplaces, pipes or patio doors.

nail down installations

1, It is highly recommended to use a professional flooring nailer for this product.

2, Engineered flooring can be fixed directly to battens or floor joists. The joists or battens should be sound, rigid and level with a moisture content of no more than 12% at the time of fixing. Where fixing is to be done to ground floor joists, adequate under floor ventilation and appropriate protection against damp must be catered for.

3, In the case of battens fixed to a concrete/screed base, the conditions must be dry. The battens should be no less than 36mm wide and a sufficient thickness to accommodate the length of the fixings. End to end joins in the battens should be staggered across the room to avoid a line of weakness under the floor. Battens are usually laid at centres of between 300 and 400mm.

stick down installations

1, You must use a professionally formulated specialist wood flooring adhesive that is either alcohol or polyurethane based. Always ensure you adhere to the manufacturers guidelines for use and application. Do not deviate from the specific instructions provide or it may result in the failure of the product.

2, Glueing of the tongue and groove system is not necessary when using the above method.

3, Always try and keep glue off the surface of the boards. Do not allow any glue to dry before trying to remove it. It is extremely difficult to remove and often results in damage to the colour or surface on the boards.

the finishing touches

1, The last board of the first row should be fitted using a puller bar, ensuring that there is a 15mm expansion gap at the head of the board.

2, Tapping blocks should be used to help close up gaps and knock boards together. Direct contact with a mallet or hammer can damage the boards and is not recommended.

3, All perimeter gaps should be covered with skirting, scotia, quadrant or a perimeter profile. All doorways, fireplaces or mat wells should also be trimmed out with suitable profiles. Coloured matched profiles for all manner of jobs are available to order from our website:

manufacturing tolerances

Engineered hardwood flooring is a natural product and as such is subject to a large array of variance in colour, texture and tone. Additionally most hardwood flooring will have the appearance of knots, sap wood, heart wood, mineral streaks and small splits. None of these are classed as defects. They are classified as being part of the character of the wood. All flooring is graded by hand before any processes are applied to it. Further inspections are carried out before any order leaves the factory to try and eliminate any reject material.

We always recommend working from 4 or 5 open packs where possible. This ensures a more natural colour mix once laid and avoids any ‘striping’ caused by colour differences across packs.

Whenever flooring is being measured for a room, 10% wastage should be built in. This allows for a margin of error for cuts and also builds in the industry standard of 5% loss for selection of material deemed unsuitable for installation.

The flooring is manufactured to tolerances of + or – 1.5% of the boards critical dimensions. Any boards out of tolerance should be dismissed as part of the 5% manufacturing tolerance mentioned above.

Great care is taken to apply all surface finishes with the same methods  and techniques. However, colour variation with the wood and the reaction of the tannins that it contains can create subtle variation in the final colour. There is nothing that can be done to provide a perfectly uniform surface colour. If this is something you require then a natural wood product is not for you.

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