For a floor that is going to be invisible beneath some kind of covering — vinyl, cork, fitted carpet or whatever — chipboard is an excellent material. It can be laid relatively quickly and is much cheaper than an equivalent amount of timber flooring. It comes square- edged or tongued and grooved. Each has its own laying technique.
All the edges of square-edged sheet flooring must be supported. Lay the boards with their long edges along the joists and nail 75 x 50mm (3 x 2in) softwood noggings between the joists to support the ends of the boards. The noggings against the wall can be inserted in advance; those supporting joints between boards must be nailed into place as the boards are laid.
Start with a full-length board in one corner and lay a row of boards the length of the room, cutting the last one to fit as required. Leave an expansion gap of about 9mm (Min) between them.
Tongue-and-groove boards are laid with their long edges running across the joists. Noggings are required only to support the outer edges close to the walls. The ends of the boards are supported by joists.
Working from one corner, lay the first board with its grooved edges about 9mm (Min) from the walls and nail it in place. Apply PVA wood adhesive to the joint along the end of the first board, then lay the next one in the row. Knock it up to the first board with a hammer for a good close joint, protecting the edge with a piece of scrap wood. Nail outer edges of the boards and the walls. The boards’ inner edges should fall on the centre line of a joist. If necessary cut the boards to width, but remove the waste from the edges closest to the wall, preserving the machine-cut edges to make neat butt joints with the next row of boards. Nail down the boards, using 50mm (2in) ring-shank nails spaced about 300mm (1ft) apart along the joists and noggings. Place the nails about 18mm (3/4in) from the board edges.
Cut and lay the remainder of the boards with the end joints staggered on alternate rows.
Continue in this way across the floor, gluing all of the joints as you go. Cut boards to fit at the ends of rows or to fall on the centre of a joist, and stagger end joints on alternate rows.
Finally, fit the skirting boards, which will cover the expansion gaps around the perimeter of the floor.
If you wish to, you can seal the surface of the chipboard with two coats of clear polyurethane varnish to protect it from dirt.
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