Can You Run Hardwood Flooring Parallel To Your Joists?

The direction in which your hardwood flooring is laid is generally up to you.

There are some cases where technical specs need to be followed, however in most cases a choice of direction can be made.

In cases where hardwood timber is laid directly onto joists (subfloor structure), then you will have to lay them at right angles for obvious reasons, leaving you with no choice.

So the first thing you’ll need to think about is the direction of your floor joists.

Where plywood is screwed directly to floor joists as a barrier between the hardwood floor boards, in most cases it’s still the conservative option to go perpendicular across the flooring joists.

Should you decide to go parallel to the joists, then you might end up with areas of floor covering that aren’t totally supported.

Over time, this can result in the plywood sagging in between the joists, and if the plywood drops, it could possibly cause your hardwood floor to twist and buckle causing major issues and unpleasant aesthetics.

If your laying floorboards over particle board, or concrete slab with battens or any other type of core solid structure, then you have the option of which direction.

Newer residential homes or those typically built later than 1990, are subjected to more rigorous building regulations. Newer houses have more level sub-floors that are required by code to meet minimum deflection scores.

The directions you lay hardwood floors in a new house is based more on visual and style factors as opposed to the directions of the joists. In these instances the wood floor planks are normally laid in parallel to the longest run or wall in the installation.

It’s always best practice to inspect the sub-floor first to identify the levelness and evenness.

Any sagging or bounce across the sub-floor will be noticeable. Where there are instances of this you’re going to have to either repair the subfloor structure or lay the floorboards perpendicular to achieve greater structural strength.

Try to avoid altering directions in your flooring in various spaces, and do your finest to prepare the layout prior to starting your floor installation.

Our Top Tips For Determining The Laying Direction Of Your Floorboards

Front door way or long hallway

If you’re laying a hardwood floor near your front door or through a long hallway, you may want to consider laying it so the boards run perpendicular to the entrance, if you can. Why? Laying the boards in this way allows them to flow naturally with traffic and just looks better.

This space is a short hallway leading into a family room to merge the two spaces together and to lead the way into the family room they have run the flooring along the length of the hallway.

Room Dimensions

If you’re laying your new floor in one particular room, like a bedroom, for instance, it’s wisest to lay the floorboards parallel to the longest wall in the room to give the illusion of a larger space.

Where possible, always begin in the corner furthest away from the door. Doing so will leave the last board at the door which can be cut in and around for a perfect fit.

In an open concept space a focal point is necessary and here they chose to run the flooring leading through to the grand fireplace

Natural Light Source

You might want to consider running the boards in the direction of the light if you’re installing your new hardwood flooring in a room with lots of natural light.

That’s due to the fact that if you run them perpendicular to the light, the light will run throughout each individual joint, and any minor variation with the boards will appear and cast a small shadow.

Running your flooring in the same direction as the light removes this problem and makes for a clean-finished flooring.

In this room the decision was made to run the flooring the length of the room there by accentuating the natural light and broadening the overall space.

Decorative Design

You can opt to lay your floor on the diagonal or choose a fascinating pattern like a herringbone.

When done properly, patterns can add depth and dimension to a room and are undoubtedly beautiful when finished.

Patterns in hardwood flooring, especially complicated ones like herringbone, truly require a specialised floor installation company lay, so it’s most likely not a smart choice if this is your first go-round at laying a wood floor.