How to lay chipboard flooring

Nadine
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How to lay chipboard flooring

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Project Overview

Chipboard flooring is commonly used as a subfloor because it is cost effective and quick to install. We’ll teach you how to glue and nail it into place. You’ll also see useful tips about cutting chipboard to fit around walls and joining panels together tightly. 
Continue to step-by-step instructions
This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How To Build a Subfloor
Woman installing chipboard floor panel
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Tighten joins in chipboard flooring

Chipboard flooring panels are joined together using a tongue and groove system. To get your join really tight, it helps to knock the boards into place with a sledgehammer. To protect the edge of your board, put a piece of scrap timber in front of it and swing the hammer into that.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Put construction adhesive on the floor joists
2 Install a chipboard floor panel
3 Trimming chipboard floor panels to size
4 Nail chipboard floor panels down
  • Step 1. Put construction adhesive on the floor joists

    Brush down the top of the floor joists to clean away any dirt or dust. Then use your caulking gun to put construction adhesive on top of the joists. Be generous with this, using around one tube of adhesive per chipboard panel. To keep the adhesive from drying out too quickly, do one floor panel at a time. 
  • Step 2. Install a chipboard floor panel

    If you have underfloor insulation, make sure it is properly positioned before you start this step. Then lay your chipboard floor panel on the joists. Put a generous amount of adhesive on the tongue of the panel and slide it into place. To join your panel tightly with the next one, knock it into place with a sledgehammer. Put a scrap piece of timber against it for protection.
  • Step 3. Trimming chipboard floor panels to size

    When you are fitting panels around corners or in smaller gaps, you need to trim them to size. Measure up your space and mark out the cuts on the chipboard, allowing a 5mm gap for expansion around corners. Make sure you trim the board so the end rests in the middle of a joist. Once you have trimmed it to size, lay it in place to check your cuts before gluing it.
  • Step 4. Nail chipboard floor panels down

    Starting in the corners, use your nail gun to nail the panels down onto the joists. Once the four corners are nailed, put another four nails in for each middle joist and five for the end joists. To make sure you hit the centre of each joist, use your straight edge to draw nail lines on top of each panel. If your joists are hardwood, you may need to knock your nails in a bit further with a hammer. Continue this process across the whole floor, staggering your panels so the join of one pair of panels meets up with the middle of a panel in the next row.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Caulking gun
  • Circular saw
  • Combination square
  • Ear muffs
  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Nail gun
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Sledge hammer
  • Straight edge

Materials

  • Block of timber
  • Construction adhesive
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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.
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