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Strike Lines Or You’ll Be In Line For Trouble

Sid Bourne on the right way to install wood floors

I WAS commissioned by a flooring contractor to oversee an installation of unfinished solid wood flooring with a two strip border of another species followed by sanding & finishing.

The contractor contacted me because he said the last large job his installers did was followed by a complaint. He was concerned that this particular job went right because the last one cost him a lot of money to get rectified.
A date and time was agreed. However, for whatever reason, the installers started the job before I arrived. The first thing I noticed was disturbing.

The subfloor was a wood based boarded floor which had been part installed approximately 12 rows. But it had been nailed the same way as the floorboards as the consumer requested. I immediately got them to rip up

the floor.

I then spoke to the consumer who, luckily, understood why the floor could not be installed that way, unless the subfloor was ply wooded. The consumer wanted perfection as money was no object, which is unusual to hear these days. Consumers most commonly ask how much money they can save.

The other issue was that this installation was bordered. The fitters had started from the one wall. This could lead to things going drastically wrong. I explained how they should star t and why. Then, after a bit of huffing and puffing from the four installers, we put down the sisalkraft again. I continued to explain how and why this

was done.

The main problem was that these installers were not striking any lines at all. So I started to measure and strike lines for them. I explained that these lines would be measuring points so they could keep the floor from

running out.

I had already proved to them that if they continued installing in the way they had started, by the time they moved into the long corridor the floor would have been badly out of line. This would, without a doubt, have caused a major complaint. Of course, they disagreed, saying the consumer would not notice it. They had done this before and got away with it.

Anyway we started and kept it nice and straight again. I pointed out the focal points. They paid attention as the consumer was present, asking all the relevant questions. The fitters thought I was well over the top, but the consumer was extremely thankful. He said it was great to have a bunch of installers who cared about the job.
Finally after three days with the border installed all was looking great. The consumer was totally over the moon with the job. I had arranged to go back after a few days to start the sand and finishing. But when I turned up I found they had hired a machine which I am sure had been used to rip up tarmac on the M1.

I said there was no way I would approve using that equipment. To my horror the lads said they have only sanded one floor previously using this machine. And here we were on a job costing over £18,000.

I made a couple of calls and, although we had to put the job off for a day, I got hold of quality sanding equipment. I was nervous about letting them have a go at sanding. It could have destroyed the floor. But to my surprise one of the lads took to it like a duck to water.

I continued with the edger and was finally happy with the end result. We applied the finish and it looked great.
The consumer phoned the boss man at the contract company telling him the job was fantastic and sent the lads a drink.

Unfor tunately I was on my way home so no drink for me. I then advised the boss that he needed to send his installers on courses. Other wise they would continually run into problems.

The good news is that he took my advice. The lads went on a couple of courses and now tell me that they appreciate the impor tance of striking lines when installing wood.

They call me for advice, which should show impor tant training is to demonstrate the right way for things to be done. It also gives them confidence to tackle installations that they would never before have got involved in.
Although the lads gave me a bit of a hard time on-site, I believe this happened because they do not want to admit they are not fully skilled and just need that little bit of help.


T: 07841 500940

Sid Bourne is to write reports on tools he tests. Contact him if you want any tools tested.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at