Hardwood Floorboard Direction: Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

Luxury Breakfast room with beautiful custom built-ins

When installing hardwood floorboards there are several things that you will have to take into consideration. One of those things is the direction of the hardwood flooring planks. You need to decide before you get started on how the flooring should run. Here are a few factors that you will want to consider when deciding which way to run your planks.

Front Door

If you are installing hardwood in the front room of your house, you should take into consideration where the front door is located. Most of the time, the standard way to install hardwood in this area is perpendicular to the door. In other words, you want to be able to walk in the door and see the boards flowing in the same direction that you are looking. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it does give you a good guideline to start with.

Natural Light

Something else that you will want to consider is the direction that natural light comes into the house. Many times, it will also be the same direction as if you adhered to the front door rule. As a general rule, you will want to run the boards in the direction of the light source. If you run them against the light, it can make the floor not look quite as good. When you look at a hardwood floor, you want to see the floor as a whole. You typically do not like to see many little boards when you look at it. If you run it against the light, you will see the joints in between the boards more prominently. This is especially true with many of the beveled edged products. If you run the wood with the light, you will not be able to see the joints as easily.

Floor Joists

If you are installing the wood on top of a wood subfloor, you will also have to consider the floor joists. The floor joists under the wood floor hold the subfloor in place. Therefore, you should consider going perpendicularly across the floor joists. If you go with the direction of the floor joists, the weight of the wood floor could cause the subfloor to sag over time. When the floor is not completely level, it can cause the wood flooring to buckle and the joints could crack. This could cause irreparable damage to the wood floor. While this is not required, it is something to think about.

Room Size and Hallways

You should also consider the sizes of the rooms that you are doing to be installing in. If you have a completely square or large rectangular room, you could potentially run it in either direction. If you are working with a very narrow room or a hallway, you should most likely run it along the longest dimension. If you run it across the hallway, for example, it could create a ladder effect.