Can I Float A Solid Oak Floor?

4th Oct 2012 @ 16:34

As suppliers of oak flooring, we are often asked advice on how to best fit your oak flooring. A common question we get asked is whether or not you can float a solid oak floor.

Although engineered oak floors are often fitted using the floating floor method, we do not recommend floating a traditional oak floor. The main reason this is not a recommended method is because solid oak boards are very susceptible to movement, caused by changing humidity levels, as temperatures rise and fall. This makes it important to have a solid floor fixed to the subfloor. An engineered oak floor on the other hand is much less susceptible to movement, meaning engineered boards can be fitted using the floating floor method.

Traditionally oak boards were not tongue and grooved, so therefore would have been fitted by nailing through the top surface, at even spacing, into the floor joists below. Nowadays secret nailing or screwing is a preferred method of fitting solid oak flooring. This process involves using a nail gun or power driver to drive the fixing through the tongue of each oak board into the subfloor or joist. The tongues are kept hidden by the groove of the next board, ensuring the fixings are hidden. This leaves a fixing free finish to the laid floor.

Oak Flooring

A further way of fixing your solid oak floor is to use an adhesive to stick the boards to a sub-floor. The glue chosen should be made specifically for the job, such as the Rewmar MS Polymer Adhesive. Any adhesive used should be extremely strong, yet flexible enough to allow for some natural movement in the wood. If you use a glue which is too rigid, it is likely to result in your oak flooring splitting, buckling or even causing structural damage to your home. For solid oak boards which are over 120mm wide, it is recommended that an alternative method to gluing down the boards is used. This is because wider solid oak boards are much more prone to movement than thinner boards.

If you would like any further information on fitting your solid oak floor, then please give us a call on 01538 304584.


Hi, I have a concrete floor that is at 3 different levels ( by about 15mm).
Can I lay a full sheet of DPC membrane, then lay 75X50 treated limbers, loose laid
On the DPC, with solid rubber fillets under the beams to level the level them using
Different rubber thicknesses., then lay a solid oak floor secret nailing through the tongues
Into the beams.
Should I apply glue to the grooves to ensure no movement ( other than the expansion gap)?
& do you think this is an appropriate way of fixing this type of floor?

A Wilson October 4, 2016 at 10:11pm

Hi AW,

Is the DPM precautionary in your situation or to cure a moisture problem? One thing to consider when screwing into concrete, is that if the concrete is not completely dry, there is always the possibility of moisture travelling up the screw and causing problems for your floor.

As for the fillets, we would normally recommend plastic rather than rubber, as they are most stable and less “loose” in comparison to rubber.

We would not recommend glueing the tongues. For the secret fixing method, a solid oak flooring board no wider than 140mm should be used. For wider boards, the surface fixing method should also be used. This involves driving a screw or nail through the surface of the board.

Finally a 15mm expansion gap should be left around the perimeter of the room.

Hopefully this answers your questions, but if you would like to discuss anything further please give us a call.

Peak Oak October 7, 2016 at 12:10pm

If a solid oak floor is prone to movement due to lateral expansion of the planks, then surely floating is preferred as it doesn't restrict expansion?

You recommend a 15mm expansion joint, but how do the timbers move if they are screwed down to the joists? It is surely impossible for timbers that are screwed down to move more than a tiny amount. If the timbers around the edge of the room did move more than a millimetre the screws would become loose and start creaking.

I'm sure that the lateral expansion of each plank is actually accomodated by the slight gap left between each plank allowing the screws to remain tight and the floor free of creaking. An expansion joint of 15mm at each side could only be required if tongues and grooves are glued and the whole floor floats.

Simon October 31, 2016 at 7:03pm

Laminate flooring is massively susceptible to movement also, yet MUST be floated. The difference however lies in the fixing method - laminate floors are click locked together so the whole floor moves as one.

You can indeed find click lock solid floor for sale, or you can glue your oak flooring together on all four edges, and float it - and then your 15mm edging gap makes sense, however - this should really be proportional to the length of the room being layed - a 3m by 3m is going to need a smaller gap than a 10m long room.

From a joinery perspective I'd say most cupping issues can be avoided if you look out for the grain, also, if the wood is properly kiln dried and stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. However failing that, and if you don't intend to control heat and moisture in your home, then pick out any boards which are show a ( or ) grain pattern.

How wood distorts when it dries : [link awaiting verification]

Dan September 13, 2017 at 3:59pm

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