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
Saw or utility knife
Hardboard is the cheapest board material at around £6 per sheet
One day for most rooms
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Illustrations: Ed Roberts
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