Choosing a direction for wood floor installation

Whether you’re installing floating, nail-down or glue-down wood floors, there are several points to consider before you start. One of the most common questions is ‘which way should I install the wood floor?’ Generally, we advise laying floors perpendicular to the light source in the room. However, there are other option depending on your décor tastes and requirements.
We’ll go over the basics of installing wood floors and explain how to choose the best direction to lay the strips.

Pre-installation preparation

Just purchased a new wood floor? All that’s left is to ensure you have all the necessary supplies and tools to start installing.

Preparing the floor for installation

Wood floors need to be installed on a completely flat, clean and dry surface. Use a spirit level to check there are no bumps or dents over 2 mm. Our top tip: to ensure the room is clean before you start installing the floor, give it a once-over with the vacuum cleaner.

Equipment required

Aside from your newly purchased wood floor strips, ensure you have expansion wedges on hand. These will be placed around the edge of the room to enable the wood to naturally expand once laid.
If the room is on the ground floor with no crawl space or has a heated floor, you will need to put down a sheet of vapour barrier to protect your wood floor from moisture damage.
It is also important to install underlay to thermally and acoustically insulate your wood floor.
Finally, ensure you have skirting boards on hand to cover up the expansion gap.

Installation tools required

Aside from a spirit level, you will need several other tools to ensure a professional finish.
Make sure you have a carpenter’s pencil and a set square to measure and mark the dimensions of each strip. We recommend using a circular saw or a jigsaw to make precise cuts in the wood.
Finally, a rubber mallet and a metal pull bar will help you ensure any stubborn strips can be slotted into the correct position.

Have questions or concerns about laying a wood floor? Consult our step-by-step guide on installing floating wood floor.

Which direction should I install the wood floor in?

In general, the direction you lay the strips depends on where the main light source in the room is located. To really enhance the space, the wood floor should be installed perpendicular to the main source of light.

The most common way to install wood floors

In general, wood floors should be installed in the direction of the longest wall in the room. This is the easiest way to install them and requires fewer precise cuts and therefore less waste. It is especially advised for rectangular rooms as it makes the room seem longer, especially if the main source runs perpendicular to the strips.

Three tips for making your room seem bigger

If your room is narrow, we recommend installing flooring in the direction of the width. If you lay strips horizontally in this direction, your room will appear wider. Our top tip: dark wood floors are not a great choice for narrow rooms as they make the space seem even narrower than it is.
If your room isn't very deep, vertical installation of the floor strips will make the room appear deeper and therefore longer. Light-coloured wood floors and darker walls will help to further enhance this effect.
One final word of advice for very small rooms: lay the strips diagonally. This is the best way to make the space seem larger. By installing the strips at a 45 degree angle to the wall, the room will feel larger and more airy. Bear in mind though that this type of installation will require you to cut many of the strips to size, leaving you with more offcuts.
Further reading: expert advice on choosing the colour of your wood floors.

Choosing which direction to install your wood floor in

As you have seen, there are several different options for wood floor installation. Now it's down to you to choose the best one for your space. Remember to bear in mind the following:

  • The light source in your room
  • The size of your room
  • The shape of your room
  • The desired effect
  • The type of room<

To get an idea of what the finished floor will look like, use our Imagine by Panaget wood floor simulator to play around with different installation directions.
If you have any other queries, feel free to get in touch with one of our advisers for tailored advice.