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How to fit wood flooring onto plywood

Either solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring can be fitted onto a plywood subfloor.  Before installing either type of hardwood floor, ensure that the existing wooden floor boards are flat, level and dry.

How to fit wood flooring onto plywood - feature

Ensuring the plywood is flat, level and dry

Check the level and flatness of the plywood subfloor by using a straight edge or spirit level. Underlay should not be used to level a subfloor.

Ensure the plywood subfloor is dry by checking the moisture content using a moisture meter.  The moisture content should be 16% MC (Moisture Content) or below before installing any hardwood flooring.

How to fit wood flooring onto chipboard - moisture meter Moisture meter. Image: instrumentationtechnology.co.uk

Different ways of installing a hardwood floor onto plywood

With a plywood subfloor there are different ways that a hardwood floor can be fitted, depending on the type of hardwood floor and personal requirements.  The main installation methods are:

Secret nailing

Secret nailing can be used with either solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring.  If using engineered wood flooring the planks should be at least 18mm thick.  For both types of hardwood flooring, a toothed nail should be used (approx. 50mm in length) to secure the flooring planks directly onto the plywood.  A brad nailer or a finish nailer should not be used, as they have smooth nails which could easily come loose.  The nails should be spread approximately 300mm apart to offer maximum stability.   

How to fit wood flooring onto existing wooden floor boards - secret nailing Secret nailer. Image: hss.com

Secret screwing

Either solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring can be secret screwed directly onto the plywood subfloor.  Engineered wood flooring must be at least 18mm thick to be secret screwed down.  Screws designed especially for securing down flooring should be used (such as Tongue-Tites) and they should be placed approximately 300mm apart to provide firmness and strength.

How to fit wood flooring onto plywood - Tongue-Tite Screws Tongue-Tite Screws Image: screwfix.com


Both solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring can be glued directly onto the plywood subfloor using a flexible flooring adhesive.

Floating over an underlay

Floating a hardwood floor over an underlay is only suitable if engineered wood flooring is being installed.  The planks of flooring can be glued or clicked together.

When secret nailing or secret screwing any hardwood flooring down, please ensure that there are no service pipes (gas, electricity or water) underneath.

For questions relating to any Ambience Hardwood Flooring products, telephone 0116 2741050 or email mail@ambiencehardwoodflooring.com. Thanks for reading.

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