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

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

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wooden flooring is popular because of the design aesthetics it can provide. It is a beautiful addition that can make any room look polished and elegant. Also, it is strong, durable and will increase the overall value of your home.

Best Direction to Lay Wooden Flooring

Which Way to Lay Wood Flooring?

Do you have any plans to put hardwood flooring in your home soon? If that’s the case, you’re probably eager to learn everything you can about the procedure, including the best way to lay wooden flooring.

Hardwood flooring is usually put or installed by aligning the planks with the room’s longest wall. It produces a more cohesive look and it is usually the chosen way for putting wood flooring. However, if there is a sinking between the existing floor, it is best to lay the planks across the joists.

How to Lay Wooden Flooring Depends on Multiple Factors

When laying down hardwood flooring, avoid shifting the direction in which you lay your hardwood floor in different rooms. The proper installation of the floorboards is critical to the final appearance of your floor.

To begin, you must ask yourself a few crucial questions such as:

1. Do You Have a New or Old Home? 

Your choice of how to install your wooden flooring will be influenced by the age of your home.

If you bought your house after the 1990s, it was likely built under more severe building codes. This means that your home’s sub-floors will be more level and meet minimum deflection requirements.

As a result, the direction in which your hardwood flooring planks are laid will be less of a concern. Your aesthetic and design tastes are more likely to influence it. Generally, most hardwood floorboards are laid parallel to the longest wall or run in the installation area at the same time.

On the contrary, if your home is older (built before the 1990s) and you’ll be likely installing new wooden flooring over a plywood sub-floor. In this case, you’ll need to consider the direction in which the floor joists will support the installation.

Installing parallel to the joists is a mistake, as you may wind up with areas of flooring that lack the support they require.

Moreover, sagging of the sub-floor between the joists can occur if this configuration is left in place for a lengthy period. The sub-floor may droop, which might cause the hardwood floor to buckle and the joists to break. 

If this happens, you’ll almost certainly need to replace the floorboards and refinish the entire floor.

2. Have You Inspected Your Sub-Floor?

Before you install wooden flooring, you must thoroughly inspect your sub-floor, regardless of when your property was built. This is so you can check how to level your sub-floor.

If you notice that the sub-floor bounces when you walk on it or that there is obvious drooping between the joints, you should install your wooden flooring perpendicular to the floor joists.

Furthermore, you can get devices to assess the flatness of your sub-floor if you’re having difficulties deciding whether it’s flat or not. Keep reading, I have mentioned my favorite laser levelers down below.

Alternatively, if you’re concerned, you can hire an expert to inspect the sub-floor and floor joists who can provide you with the information you need.

Align and lay your wooden floors in direction of lighting

3. Have You Considered the Light Source? 

Is there a lot of natural light in the space where you’ll be laying the wooden flooring? If that’s the case, you should consider putting the boards in the direction of the light.

This is because if you hold them perpendicular to the light source, the light will fall evenly across the various joints. This means that even the tiniest variation in board height will cast a shadow. However, if you lay the floor in the same way as the light falls, you’ll avoid this problem.

4. Have You Thought About the Size of the Room?

The size of the room influences the overall appearance of the floor. For example, if you’re installing hardwood floors in a small room, you should consider running the boards in the same direction as the longest wall. This will make the room appear larger and more spacious.

If you opt to install them perpendicularly and the room is narrow and long, your floor may appear weird.

On the other hand, if you’re working in a large room, you can install the boards in any direction. Just make sure that you start in the middle of the room and work your way out.

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

The direction in which you lay your floorboards will also be affected by how close they are to your front door. If they’re close, you should consider running the boards parallel to the door.

This is so that when people enter your home, they will see a long, uninterrupted expanse of flooring. It creates a more welcoming look.

6. What’s the Overall Aesthetic of Your Home

You should also think about the overall aesthetic of your home when deciding which direction to lay your hardwood floors.

For example, if you have a lot of straight lines and sharp angles in your home, you might want to consider running the boards in a perpendicular direction. This will add a bit of visual interest to your space.

On the other hand, if your home has a lot of curves, you might want to lay the boards in a herringbone pattern. This will echo the curves in your space and create a more cohesive look.

7. What’s Your Personal Preference?

Ultimately, the direction you choose to lay your hardwood floors is a matter of personal preference.

If you can’t make a decision, you can always ask your flooring installer for their opinion. They will be able to tell you which direction will work best in your space based on their experience.

Herringbone can look amazing in your space | wooden floor tips

8. Are You Thinking About Choosing a More Complex Pattern? 

Did you know that you may install your wooden flooring in a more complicated design, such as diagonal or even herringbone?

One of the advantages of doing so is that the pattern will give your area an illusion of depth and dimension.

However, this is a far more difficult choice. For starters, there is undoubtedly a higher price tag. You’ll have to spend more on a larger quantity of material because some will be wasted during the cutting process.

Furthermore, you will most likely be unable to complete a more complex design such as herringbone on your own. It’ll very certainly require the assistance of a professional.

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 won’t’ be able to do it yourself. You’ll likely have to hire an experienced tradesperson to do it. 

BONUS: Things To Keep In Mind While Planning Your Floorboard Layboards

  1. Do you have any floor heating registers in the area where the wooden flooring will be installed? If this is the case, you must check that the boards are appropriately cut to suit their apertures before installing them.
  2. Is there a hearth for a fireplace in the region where the installation will take place? If this is the case, alter the planks to create a neat boundary around the hearth. It is also standard practice to glue the ends of boards that are close to the hearth.

How to Lay Floorboards on Joists?

Laying wooden floorboards on joists is a fairly easy process, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. First, you need to make sure that the boards are the right size. They should be at least 8 inches wide and no more than 16 feet long.
  2. Secondly, you will also need to make sure that the boards are properly spaced. The standard distance is 1/8 inch, but you may need to adjust this depending on the width of the boards.
NOTE: Keep in mind the expansion of wood in different weather conditions as you don't want your boards to buckle.

Once you have the boards cut to size and spaced correctly, you can start nailing them into place. You can start by nailing the first board into place at one end of the room. Then, work your way down the length of the board, nailing it every 8 inches.

Make sure that the boards are properly aligned. This means that the edges should be flush and the ends should be level.

Best Laser Level for Hardwood Floors

A laser level is a device that emits a laser beam in a straight line. When installing wooden floorboards, laser levels are frequently used. They can assist in ensuring that the boards are put uniformly and with flat edges.

Below are my top 3 picks for the best laser levels for hardwood floors:

1. Black + Decker Laser Level

It is the perfect laser level for anyone who wants an easy leveling experience. Its 360-degree rotating wall attachment means that you can project my laser line at any angle, and the backlight makes it easy to see in any lighting condition.

Plus, this laser level comes with Class 3R lasers so you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself while using it.

This laser level is ideal for hardwood floors because it is small and compact. It also has a built-in bubble level, so you can make sure that the device is properly calibrated.


  • Makes levelling easy – vertically and horizontally
  • Handy and affordable tool
  • 360-degree rotation and wall attachment feature
  • Up to 2 years warranty


  • Might create a slight deviation in the beam

2. Huepar Self-Leveling Laser

Huepar is a trusted brand that has been serving its customers for over 10 years now. This product, in particular, is one of their most popular offerings.

The Huepar Self-Leveling Laser Level is a great choice for hardwood floors because it is easy to use and very accurate. This amazing device can project a 360° horizontal and 140° vertical green beam, making it perfect for any levelling job.

Moreover, with its self-levelling capabilities and strong magnetic bracket, it’s easy to use at any angle.

If you’re looking for a professional style laser leveler, then this is your go-to product. You’ll love the multiple modes (manual + self-leveling) and bright green laser beam on this tool – it makes leveling much easier and more accurate than with traditional red beams.


  • Comes with a 360-degree rotation and lock function
  • Has horizontal and vertical line feature
  • The beam is very visible and bright
  • It has an IP54 rating, making it dustproof and waterproof
  • Comes with a portable carry case


  • You need to buy a separate tripod
  • A bit pricey

3. Seesii 4D Laser Level

This is a top-quality laser level that comes with two 360° horizontal and two 360° planes, making it perfect for all-around leveling coverage. Moreover, the self-leveling feature ensures that the beam is always level, no matter what surface you’re working on.

Unlike other lasers, Seesii has an in-built alarm that notifies you if the device is not level, so you can make the necessary adjustments. This is a great feature for hardwood floors, as it ensures that your lines are always perfect.

Plus, the green laser is three times brighter than red, bringing better visibility. What I love about this laser is the number of features it has as compared to the price point.


  • Multiple Modes (self-leveling + manual)
  • Magnetic bracket – makes it easy to hold on any metal surface such as a tripod
  • Comes with a remote control
  • Rechargeable batteries (can last up to 8 hours of consistent use)


  • Not suitable for outdoor use

Different Kinds of Wooden Flooring

Let’s look at some of the most common types of wood flooring:

  1. Oak – It is unquestionably one of the most popular hardwood flooring options. It is one of the most long-lasting woods that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Moreover, it comes in a variety of hues and styles. This makes it such a versatile wood flooring alternative.
  2. Mahogany – Mahogany is another popular hardwood flooring option. It has a beautiful reddish hue that can add warmth to any room. It has a classic, even Victorian appearance to it. While it is more expensive than other types of hardwood flooring, it has numerous benefits. So, if you’re aiming for a specific appearance, mahogany is worth considering.
  3. Rosewood – Rosewood is Renowned for its refined elegance, with appealing grain patterns and a variety of colors ranging from yellow to purple. Rosewood has been used in furniture for a long time, but it was only recently used as flooring. If you’re looking for something a little unusual, consider Rosewood hardwood flooring.
  4. Maple – It is a very popular hardwood flooring option. It has exquisite grain patterns, making it particularly versatile and adaptable to both small and large settings. Maple has a high level of durability, making it a perfect choice for high-traffic areas. One factor to keep in mind is that maple is less permeable than many other wood species. If you wish to colour the wood, you’ll have a harder time doing it with maple
  5. Cherry – It comes in several shades, but it is not a good choice if it’ll be exposed to a lot of rain or humidity. Cherry is less durable than Brazilian cherry (a relative), although it can endure a long time if cared for properly and refinished regularly. In addition, cherry’s hue is one of its most appealing features: it starts as a gorgeous pink shade and darkens over time.
  6. Bamboo – While bamboo isn’t exactly hardwood, many people consider it to be an excellent flooring alternative. Furthermore bamboo is prone to scratching, so use caution when working with it.

Related Questions

Is It Ok to Change the Direction of Wood Flooring Between Rooms?

No. Changing the direction of wood flooring between rooms is not recommended. That is because it will make your home look disconnected and can be quite confusing.

Is It Easy to Lay Wooden Flooring?

Yes. You can easily lay wooden flooring by yourself. To get started, all you need are the necessary equipment and knowledge. When doing so, however, it is always advisable to get professional assistance.

Is Herringbone Flooring Hard to Lay?

Herringbone flooring can be quite difficult to lay. That is because the pieces need to be cut at precise angles and then fit together perfectly. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it is best to leave it to the professionals.

Which Way Should Wood Floors Run in Bedroom?

There is no definitive answer to this question. You can choose to run the wood floors in any direction you want. However, it is generally recommended to run them parallel to the longest wall in the room.

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