How To Level A Floor

HowToLevelAFloor

There’s no point in installing brand new carpet, floor tiles or laminate over uneven floorboards- the results will always be disappointing. Using a spirit level to check the slope of your current floor and then levelling it with sheets of hardboard before laying your new floor will ensure you get really professional results. Here’s how…

Sheets of hardboard
Hammer
Panel pins
Try square
Saw or utility knife
Nail punch
Straight edge

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Budget

Hardboard is the cheapest board material at around £6 per sheet

Time

One day for most rooms

Skill

Novice

Check The Ventilation

Step One: Check The Ventilation

Ensure there is plenty of ventilation under the floorboards at ground floor level by checking there is an airbrick opening into the room. If not, install an airbrick. Check for any signs of damp or mould and cure before fitting the hardboard.

Prepare The Old Boards

Step Two: Prepare The Old Boards

Remove the skirting boards if you plan to lay your new flooring underneath them. Prepare the old boards by punching any protruding nail heads below the surface with a hammer. You may need to use a power plane to level any very uneven boards. Screw down any creaking or loose boards.

Acclimatise The New Boards

Step Three: Acclimatise The New Boards

Bring the 6mm hardboard into the room and brush a litre of water over the rough side of each panel. Leave for at least 24 hours to allow the boards to adjust to the humidity of the room.

Mark Out Pipes And Wiring

Step Four: Mark Out Pipes And Wiring

It's worth taking up one or two of the old floorboards and noting the positions of any wiring or pipes. Use a felt tip pen to mark the wire and pipes on the hardboard's surface. Fit narrow strips of hardboard along these lines so that they can be removed to repair any faults later.

Lay And Fix The Boards

Step Five: Lay And Fix The Boards

Cut the boards to size using a sharp general-purpose knife or saw, using a straight edge as a guide. Lay the sheets rough side up, across the floorboards. Stagger the joints and fix with diamond-headed panel pins every 100mm around the edge and at 150mm apart in the middle. Make sure the nail heads are flush with the hardboard surface.

  • Exterior grade plywood panels can be laid in the same way as hardboard but be sure to leave an expansion gap of at least 10mm all the way around the edge of the room.

Illustrations: Ed Roberts

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