When laying tongue and groove flooring or ceilings, a ratchet clamp is a most useful tool to ensure the various panels fit as snugly together as possible. Follow these directions to use a ratchet clamp effectively to align your tongue and groove paneling work.
Step 1: Obtain Ratchet Clamps and Shims
You can rent ratchet clamps for the day from your building supply center when you purchase your tongue and groove flooring. Buy sufficient shims to have 1 for each 12 inches of wall space, along all 4 room walls where you will lay the tongue and groove floor planks.
Step 2: Insert Plastic Shims
Along each wall of the room where you are laying the tongue and groove paneled flooring, insert plastic shims. These provide a narrow gap between the wall and the floor boards, so you can insert the ratchet clamp for tightening. After the floor is laid, these shims will serve as a guide to install the baseboards around the room.
Step 2: Lay Several Rows of Floor Boards
Install several rows of tongue and groove floor boards before tightening. It is recommended to tighten the floor boards every 12 inches that is laid away from the base wall.
Step 3: Insert the Ratchet Clamps
Insert 1 ratchet clamp for every 5 feet of wall width along the base wall. Place the lip of the ratchet band under the edge of the first board that is right next to the base wall. Align each of the ratchet clamps in this way.
Step 4: Stretch Out the Ratchet Bands
Pull the ratchet band out of the holder for each ratchet clamp, till it reaches the outer edge of the most recently installed board.
Step 5: Fasten the Ratchet Section to the Outermost Board
Lift up the ratchet section handle and slip the lip of the ratchet section under the edge of the outermost board. Secure each ratchet clamp on the board one right after the other.
Step 6: Tighten the Ratchet Handle on the Ratchet Section
Move the ratchet handle toward and away from you till the strap is taut and the boards are forced tightly together. Apply reasonable pressure to avoid causing the boards to buckle and pop out of the grooves.
Step 7: Release the Ratchet Section Only
When the boards have been tightened as much as desired, release the ratchet section.
Step 8: Lay More Floor Boards and Tighten Again
Once you have laid another 12 inches to 18 inches of tongue and groove boards out from the base wall, use the ratchet clamps to tighten the newly laid boards.
Step 9: Release the Ratchet Clamps
When you have finished laying tongue and groove floor paneling across the entire room, carefully roll up the ratchet clamp bands and release their lip from the edge next to the base wall. Do not release the lip while the bands are fully extended and ratcheted tightly. A whiplash effect can result which can cause serious injury if the ratchet section of the clamp strikes you.