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How to level a Wood Floor

Over time, wooden floorboards can become uneven due to wear and tear, replacement and warping with changes of heat. This can make it difficult if you want to change the flooring to carpet or a new laminate flooring. Ensuring that your wood flooring is level will ensure that any flooring type, including vinyl flooring, that is laid on top will not become damaged and will last for years to come. 

When preparing to lay a new floor, you must make sure the surface underneath is level to ensure that defects don’t show through onto your new flooring and cause uneven wearing.

Things to check before levelling your wooden floor

  • Check for rotten floorboards; these will need replacing before you add your hardboard sheets. If they aren’t replaced, it can cause issues to the stability of the floor in the future.   

  • Also, check for any floorboards that are loose or creak as these will need to be replaced before you lay the new floor. If you can, use a pipe or cable detector to determine if this is causing the floorboard to creak and use screws as opposed to nails as this can cause further creaking. 

  • If you have any plumbing or wiring issues that you need to fix, this is the time to complete the repairs before you place the hardboard sheets down. 

  • Any nails or screws that are loose and above the surface should be nailed down further to ensure that no issues are caused when laying the sheets. You may also find that you might have to sand uneven floorboards that have raised slightly. 

Hardboard sheets are a great way to level a wood boarded floor, and as a bonus, this should reduce any draughts coming into your home.

Choose 3mm thick hardboard sheets to level your floor and make sure they are properly conditioned before fitting by spraying water over the textured side and stacking them on the floor of the room for 48 hours. This means they’ll expand a little before drying and tightening which saves them from expanding and buckling after you’ve laid them.

If any wooden floorboards stick out more than the others, plane these before laying your hardboard sheets.

Fix your hardboard sheets in place with short nails so that they don’t go through your floorboards and cause any accidental damage. Once you’re ready, follow our simple steps to laying your hardboard sheets.

Step 1: Laying the sheets

Step 1: Laying the sheets

Lay the hardboard sheets texture side up so you can see where the adhesive should lie. Make sure that you lay the floorboards at a right angle to the way that the existing floorboards are set. Start in one corner of the room and make sure that you set the nails around 13mm in from the edges of the sheet. Try positioning the nails in a pyramid pattern to prevent the sheets from buckling as you nail them down.

Step 2: Completing a row

Step 2: Completing a row

Here at Leader Floors, we have developed a method of levelling a wooden floor over many years, and one tip that we recommend you complete is specifically to do with the spacing of your hardboard sheet. 

Make sure that the hardboard sheets are laid as close together as possible, nailing along each meeting edge before continuing in a pyramid fashion. Once you reach the end of the row, cut the last one to size. Use a tape measure to note the remaining distance between the final complete floorboard and then mark the distance on the last board and cut to size. This will ensure that you have full coverage of the floor.

Step 3: Using your off-cuts

Step 3: Use your off-cuts

To ensure that you don’t waste any materials and to reduce cost, you can start the new row with the off-cut from the last row of sheets. This will ensure that the joints are staggered and will reduce waste. Continue until the floor is covered. Congratulations, you’ve levelled your wooden floor! Now time to select your new laminate flooring option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here at Leader Floors, we get a lot of questions about levelling a wooden floor which is why we have created a frequently asked questions section. Our experts are here to help with any queries that you may have about how to level a wooden floor. 

Is it expensive to level a floor?

To level a wooden floor, materials shouldn’t be too expensive. The average cost of a hardboard sheet is around £7-12 depending on the brand, thickness and quality that you choose. Combined with nails and labour costs (you can remove labour costs by fitting the sheets yourself – we promise it’s not too difficult), the entire project shouldn’t be too expensive to complete. 

How long does it take to level a wood floor?

Depending on the size of the room and the skill level of the person fitting the hardboard sheets, a single room should take no longer than a day. You must remember to take into consideration the conditioning of the boards before fitting them. They will need to be sprayed and left for 48 hours before you complete the project. 

What is the best flooring for uneven floor?

If you have very uneven flooring and want to install a new flooring option on top but are unsure about the type that is the most suitable, we are here to help. We recommend using laminate flooring, as it is a flexible material and can handle the uneven nature. However, over time, you might be able to see the imperfections. 

For flooring that is only slightly uneven, you should try vinyl plank flooring as it is a durable flooring type that will give the illusion of strength even with irregularities in flooring level. Over time, you may find that this flooring will need to be replaced. 

Are uneven floors dangerous? 

Uneven floors can be dangerous and cause slips, falls and other injuries. If you live with children or older people, having an uneven floor can cause them to trip and fall. 

Uneven floors could be a signal that you have structural problems with your home, including foundation issues or damaged floor joists. They can, however, be harmless and occur with general wear and tear. 

Can you lay hardwood on uneven floors?

Hardwood flooring needs to be installed on even and smoothed surfaces. This can be achieved by adding underlay or resurfacing the area. If you are searching for real wood flooring, we have a wide selection for you to choose from here at Leader Floors, including varying shades, thicknesses and materials.