A Guide on Properly Laying Wood Flooring

If you’re planning on laying wood flooring in your home, you might be interested in finding out the correct process, including which direction to lay wooden flooring. Although personal preference is a factor, visual and structural guidelines usually influence how you run the hardwood flooring.

In most cases, experts recommend laying or installing the hardwood floor planks in alignment with the room’s longest wall or perpendicular to the main entrance, creating a harmonious look. Regardless, there are some exceptions to this rule. Here are some visual and structural guidelines you should consider when planning your hardwood flooring layout:

Visual Sightlines

If you want your house to have visual congruity, experts recommend running the boards away from the main entrance toward the opposite wall. It simplifies the sightline and creates a better aesthetic effect for people walking into the house. If you’re laying wooden flooring in the entire house, the entrance remains as the reference, with the boards running perpendicularly from it.

However, maintaining this direction may inevitably lead you to lay some planks across the doors of some rooms. You can change the laying direction in doorways to avoid this, but it’s essential to consider the joist direction when doing it.

Structural Guidelines

Homes built after the 90s have better building codes, with subfloors that are more stable and satisfy deflection ratings. If your home is older or you have a plywood subfloor, you must consider the direction of the floor joist that supports the installation.

Experts recommend laying the boards perpendicular to the floor joist in these cases. Installing them parallel makes it possible for the floor to sag. The sagging may buckle the hardwood flooring and open gaps between the planks.

If you want a layout that runs parallel to the joist, it’s essential to reinforce the subfloor. You can add a three-eighth-inch plywood layer to take care of it.

Diagonal Flooring

Several complex wood floor laying patterns, such as a diagonal and herringbone, create interesting visual effects, making your room seem as if it had more depth to it. These effects are better for a large room.

However, this option is more challenging, and it has a higher cost than other options. You have

to pay for more material, and a part of it is thrown away after cutting the planks. If you’re aiming for a more complex pattern, you might not even be able to do it yourself. An artisan might be necessary, further driving up the costs.

Other Considerations

There are some situations in which your walls aren’t entirely straight. In these cases, if you use a doorway or a wall as a reference, you might end up having to compensate for a considerable angle. This situation creates more work for you and affects the flooring’s appearance.

It might be better to run the flooring at a slight angle from a doorway rather than at a 90-degree angle, but it’s better to take some careful measurements if you’re doing it that way.

The Bottom Line

You can enjoy your wood flooring results as long as you do enough research and follow the proper guidelines! The two most recommended ways to lay the boards are perpendicular across the floor joists or the main entrances. It depends on your subfloor state or material, and ultimately, your preferences.