Timber flooring is an effective way to add character to your home. Successful installation of a wood floor depends on the right selection of the type of flooring, the species from which it is made and its construction and appearance.

Before you begin

When installing wood flooring, it is essential that you always do the following:

• Acclimatize the boards to the in-service atmospheric conditions expected at the premises for a period of several weeks before installing them. For installations over under floor heating, ensure the moisture content of the boards is between 6% and 8% at the time of laying.

• Ensure that any cement sub-floors register a relative humidity (RH) reading of no higher than 75% (65% or less for under floor heating installations or for floors intended as stick-down installations) when tested with a hygrometer.

• Make sure that all wet trades (plasterwork, screeds etc) have had ample time to dry out fully before installing the floor.

Selecting the right species

The relative humidity of a normal domestic environment is likely to range between 35% and 65% over a yearly cycle, and wood floors will shrink and swell in response to these conditions.

By selecting an appropriate species of timber, you can control dimensional movement occurring over the lifetime of the floor. For most domestic environments, species with medium movement characteristics will give you a floor with acceptable levels of movement. However, for specialist installations such as those involving under floor heating, you should use species with small movement. Large-movement timbers are best used as the wear layer of engineered boards if atmospheric conditions are not too dry and when no under floor heating is installed.

By selecting solid wood floors in narrower board widths, or floors which are made from components of smaller dimensions (for example, woodblock or finger mosaic), you can avert the risk of distortion in the form of ‘cupping’ or ‘ridging’.

Installation over under floor heating

For installations over under floor heating, it is essential you limit the selection of species to those with small movement characteristics. Maximum board widths of 75mm are normally recommended for under floor heating installations, although wider commercial products are becoming available which may require special precautions to avoid in-service movement. You must also ensure that the moisture content of boards intended for under floor heating installations is between 6% and 8% when the floor is laid.


Wear resistance

Different species of flooring will provide different levels of wear resistance and you must give this some consideration for floors which are subjected to different levels of trafficking.

Thickness of boards

When fixing wood strip or boards onto support battens or joists, you must select a thickness of board which is appropriate to the span of the batten or joist in order to avoid deflection and squeaking of the floor.

Resource from Wood Campus

Timber species and dimensional movement

Movement classification

Commonly used species


iroko, teak, merbau, American mahogany, dark red meranti, western hemlock


ash, European oak, American white oak, maple, sycamore, European redwood/whitewood, European cherry


beech, birch, sweet chestnut

Wear resistance by species

Level of pedestrian traffic

Suggested species to use

Light (domestic environments, small classrooms, small offices).

idigbo, European birch, Douglas fir, Scots pine and light red meranti

Normal (large assembly halls, school/college classrooms, hospitals, hotels, shops)

teak, afzelia, iroko, dark red meranti, keruing, merbau and sapele

Heavy (usually concentrated in definite traffic lanes in large public institutions)

European beech, European oak and rock maple

Batten and joist spans for domestic/residential environments

Finished board thickness (mm)

Maximum span (centre to centre in mm)









European Wood (in China)
C412, Beijing Lufthansa Center
50 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District
Beijing, P.R. China 100125
T +86 10 6462 2066, F +86 10 6462 2067
Sino-European Wood Center
Room 202, Engineering Department,
Taoliyuan Hou, Xuhui Campus of Jiaotong University,
No.655 Panyu Road, Xu Hui District, Shanghai