Home » Best Direction to Lay Wooden Flooring | 8 Tips and Questions Answered

Best Direction to Lay Wooden Flooring | 8 Tips and Questions Answered

This page contains affiliate links, As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (with no extra cost to you). Learn more

Are you planning on installing some hardwood flooring in your home soon? If so, you’re probably eager to find out everything you need to know about the process, including the best direction in which you should lay wooden flooring.

How to properly lay wooden flooring

Which is the Best Direction to Lay Wooden Flooring? In most cases, hardwood flooring is laid or installed by arranging the planks in alignment with the longest wall in the room. This is generally the preferred direction for installing wood floors because it creates a harmonious look. An exception to this rule would be if there is sagging between the joists of your sub-floor. When this is the case, you should install the planks across the flooring joists. This will help you avoid any future issues.

It’s so important to carefully think about and plan the precise layout of your installation before it begins. It depend on multiple factors.

How to Lay Wooden Flooring depends on multiple factors

When installing your wooden flooring, stay away from changing the direction of how you lay your hardwood floor in different rooms. Installing the floorboards in the most appropriate way is crucial to how your finished floor will look. 

First we need to ask ourself few key questions …

Do You Have a New or Old Home? 

The age of your home will play a big role in your decision as to how you should lay your wooden flooring.

If your home was built after the 1990s, it will have benefited from more stringent building codes. This means that your home will have sub-floors that are mor level and satisfy minimum deflection ratings.

It is because of this that you won’t have to worry as much about the direction in which you lay your wooden flooring boards. It will depend more on your aesthetic and design preferences. At the same time, though, it is most common to lay your hardwood floor planks parallel to the longest wall or run in the installation area.

If your home is older (was built before the 1990s) and if you have a plywood sub-floor on which you’ll be laying the new wooden flooring, you must first think about the direction of the floor joists will be supporting the installation.

The best choice in these circumstances is to install the boards in a perpendicular direction across the floor joists. This will let the floor joists properly support the new installation in addition the sub-floor. 

It’s a mistake to install parallel to the joists, as if you do you could end up with parts of flooring that don’t have the support they need.

If this kind of arrangement is left in place for an extended period of time, it can cause sagging of the sub-floor between the joists. The sub-floor could sag, and this may cause buckling of the hardwood floor and breaking of the joists. If this ends up occurring, you’ll probably need to replace the floorboards and provide the whole floor with a new finish. 

Inspect your Sub-Floor

No matter when your house was built, you must properly check out your sub-floor prior to installing wooden flooring. This is because you need to see how flat your sub-floor is.

If you find that the sub-floor bounces when it’s walked on or there is clear sagging between the joints of the sub-floor, you should lay your wooden flooring across the floor joists in a perpendicular direction.

When having trouble determining whether or not your sub-floor is truly flat, you can obtain instruments that will measure its flatness. I love this laser level you can find on Amazon.

If you’re really worried about it, you can even engage an engineer who will take a look at the sub-floor and floor joists and give you the information you need. 

Have You Considered the Light Source? 

Is the room where you’re installing the wooden flooring one with a lot of natural light?

If so, you’ll probably want to think about laying the boards in the direction of that light.

Align and lay your wooden floors in direction of lighting

Why? It’s because if you position them perpendicular to the source of light, you’ll find that the light will fall across the individual joints. This means that any tiny change in board height will be very visible and create a shadow. You’ll avoid this issue is you simply lay the floor in the same direction as the light falls. 

Think About the Size of the Room

If you’re only putting in wooden flooring in one particular room, it’s probably best to lay the boards parallel to the room’s longest wall. If you decide to put them in perpendicularly and if the room is rather narrow and long, you’ll find that your floor might look rather odd. 

How Close Will Your New Floor Be to Your Front Door?

If you’re installing your new wooden flooring in close proximity to your front door, you should think about laying the boards so that they’re perpendicular to the entrance if you possibly can. This will ensure that the direction will flow well with the way people walk into your home, and they will have a better aesthetic effect. 

Are You Thinking About Choosing a More Complex Pattern? 

Did you know that you can lay your wooden flooring in a more complex pattern, such as a diagonal one or even something such as herringbone?

One of the advantages of doing this is the fact that such a pattern can make your room have the appearance of greater dimension and depth.

Herringbone can look amazing in your space | wooden floor tips

This is a significantly more challenging option, however. For one thing, there is certainly a greater cost involved. You’ll have to pay more a greater amount of material, as some will be wasted when cutting the boards. Additionally, if you want to do a more complex pattern such as herringbone, you probably wont’ be able to do it yourself. You’ll likely have to hire an experienced tradesperson to do it. 

Final two Tips to Keep in Mind when laying down wooden flooring

Do you have any floor heating registers in the area where you’ll be installing the wooden flooring?

If so, you need to ensure that you cut the boards to properly fit their openings before you install them..

Is there a fireplace hearth in the area where the installation will be?

If so, adjust the boards to ensure that there is a tidy border that can frame the hearth. It’s common to also glue the ends of boards that come close to the hearth area. 

Different Kinds of Wooden Flooring

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular kinds of wooden flooring: 

  1. Oak – is without a doubt one of the most popular types of hardwood floors. It’s one of the most durable, and it is very good at standing up to wear and tear. You’ll be pleased to know that it’s available in several different colors. This is why it’s such a versatile option. 
  2. Mahogany – has a distinctly classic and even Victorian look. While it’s a bit more expensive than other varieties of hardwood floor, it has many advantages. If this is the specific type of look you’re seeking, mahogany is certainly worth looking into. 
  3. Rosewood – Notable for its refined beauty, Rosewood features lovely grain patterns and offers a variety of different colors, from yellowish shades to purple. While Rosewood has been used for furniture for decades, its use in flooring is relatively new. Look into Rosewood hardwood flooring if you’re interested in something a little bit different. 
  4. Maple – is an extremely popular choice in wooden flooring. It has elegant grain patterns that make this type of wood especially versatile and easily used in both small and large spaces. Maple has great durability, meaning that it is an excellent choice for areas with a lot of foot traffic. One caveat to keep in mind, though, is that maple is less porous than many other varieties of wood. If you want to add a stain to the wood, you’ll find this more difficult with maple. 
  5. Cherry – If the space in which you’ll be installing the wooden floors will have relatively less traffic, perhaps you’ll want to consider choosing cherry. Cherry is a bit less durable than Brazilian cherry (a relative), but it can be long-lasting if you’re careful with it and do proper upkeep and occasional refinishing. One of cherry’s most attractive characteristics is its color: it begins a lovely pink shade and it becomes darker with time. To make sure that you don’t scratch your beautiful cherry floors, make sure not to put anything with sharp or hard edges on them. 
  6. Bamboo – While it’s not technically a type of hardwood, many people think of bamboo as being a great option for flooring. It comes in several different colors, but it won’t be a suitable choice if it will be in a lot of humidity or around dampness. Bamboo can also scratch quite easily, so you’ll need to be careful with it. 

Best of Luck With Your Hardwood Floors! 

No matter what kind of hardwood floors you choose to install, you’ll be pleased with your results as long as you do your research and follow all the correct procedures.