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Which Direction to Run Wooden Flooring

So you've decided on wooden flooring to give your home a makeover - great! The next step is deciding on the type of board you're going to lay, and which direction you will run them through the room. Click here to view our full range of wood flooring types, and keep reading for handy tips to help you to decide which direction to run them in.


The first thing to consider is joists - if your new wooden boards are having to span floor joists, then the boards would have to run in the opposite direction to the joists. This is to make sure that the flooring is adequately supported, and safe for use.

Existing Timber Floorboards

If you've already got wooden flooring, you don’t necessarily have to pull it up in order to lay the new boards. Of course, if depth of flooring is an issue for you, you'll probably want to remove the existing boards, but it makes life much easier if you are happy to lay your new flooring over the top!

When doing so, make sure that you nail the new floor boards in the opposite direction to the existing boards. This way, any movement or swelling that occurs in the existing flooring, doesn't affect your new one.

However, if would rather lay your new boards in the same direction as your existing flooring, but do not want to go to the effort of taking up the existing boards, then you can use an underlay such as Elastilon to float your floor.

Plywood and Concrete

The simplest way to lay new wooden flooring is on to a sub floor such as plywood or concrete. This way, you haven't got any restrictions or extra work placed on you by joists or existing boards. When laying flooring over a solid sub floor, then it’s purely down to personal preference which direction you choose to run them. However, there a few points worth considering.

  1. Commonly, we find that people prefer the aesthetic effect of floorboards running along the length of the room.
  2. For the same reason as above, floorboards in a hallway often look best running the length of the space.
  3. If you have what you consider to be 'feature rooms' coming off the hall, you have to consider whether you're: A) Going to run the boards in the same direction, and therefore have one of the spaces running lengthways, and the other widthways, or B) Have the 2 sections running in opposite directions.

This scenario is not uncommon, but it is something that you need to consider when planning how to lay your floor.

Have you considered laying your flooring diagonally?

Although it's not the most common way of doing it, laying flooring diagonally can add a unique twist to your decor and room design. If you opt for this method, do consider that it will be more work and will create more wastage, due to the fact that cutting boards at an angle produces more unusable waste.

Irregular Walls

When you lay your first row of boards using one wall as a sole point of reference, you must take into consideration that not all your walls may be perfectly straight and square. If this reference wall isn’t perfectly straight, or is at a different angle to the other walls in that room, you may find that you have to be happy with an angle at the end of the installation. If this is a concern (this is a common problem in older houses and cottages) you or your fitter should carefully measure the walls to calculate the angle at which the boards should be laid.

About the author

Tom Fanthorpe. Director, JFJ Wood Flooring Ltd

Tom is one half of the father & son team behind JFJ Wood Flooring. An experienced wood flooring specialist with over 7 years in the industry, Tom is following in his father John's footsteps as a true expert in his chosen field. Having absorbed much of John's 35+ years of experience in the joinery and timber trade, Tom now leads the wood flooring department and holds ultimate responsibility for everything from customer service to sales, logistics to quality control.

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