How Do I Prepare My Floor For Laying Timber?

If you’re laying a new timber floor, you need to prepare the substrate properly otherwise you run the risk of having to redo the whole project entirely.

This would be enormously frustrating and time-consuming but worse still, it could be extremely costly - so it is really worthwhile putting in the effort to make sure the surface is prepared correctly so that the end result will be perfect.

There are several ways of preparing a concrete substrate before you lay a new timber covering on top, but the most effective and easiest way is to use a concrete grinder.  In fact, a concrete grinder is a good choice for preparing a surface for laying ceramics, vinyl, tiles and carpets as well as timber floors because it’s not only likely to produce the best results, it’s also likely to be the most cost-effective option.  

Hiring a concrete grinder is certainly a more economical option that using a floor levelling compound or a filler to smooth over the entire floor, and the results are excellent.  What’s more, concrete equipment hire isn’t expensive and with the right tools and know-how, you can achieve a professional result with your DIY project. 

How does a concrete grinder work?

In simple terms, a concrete grinder works by using rotating discs embedded with diamond grit of varying roughness to grind down the surface until it’s completely level, smooth and clean. 

Depending on the scale of your project, you can hire concrete equipment of all different sizes and capabilities - from lightweight grinders for small residential floor grinding and preparation jobs to high-speed heavy duty ones for large commercial projects - but they all fulfil the same purpose, and that is to remove glues, coatings, paint, wax, sealers, membranes and other debris and to grind down high spots in preparation for the new floor coverings.

Let’s look at how you prepare your floor for laying timber.

The first thing to note is that the floor has to be dry, flat, even, smooth and clean so that the new floor covering will be able to bond tightly onto it. 

Any adhesive or residue between the old surface and the new covering (such as tile debris, mortar-based tile glue etc) will compromise the quality and longevity of the new flooring, so it is essential that all residual material is removed completely. 

Another very important thing to note about laying timber floors is that the substrate has to be completely dry.    Wood absolutely hates moisture and if the slab isn’t completely dry, it may cause the timber to warp, twist and expand.  

This is an important consideration, especially if you are going to be using the wet concrete grinding method as opposed to the dry one.  Wet concrete grinders use water so it is imperative to wait at least 5- 7 days 24 hours (depending on environmental conditions) for the floor to dry out before installing the new floor.

*don’t forget to speak with your Floor Layer about waterproof membranes to stop any moisture further down the track

Whilst the wet method produces a slurry from the mix of concrete dust and water, the dry method produces volumes of silica dust.  Collecting this dust and mitigating its negative effects on health and environment is a key consideration when you use a concrete grinder, and you should ensure that any equipment that you hire has the right kind of vacuum attachment with the appropriate filtration capabilities.  Household models should not be used as they are not sufficient for this type of dust, and could be damaged irreparably.  You must also ensure that you have the appropriate safety gear such as protective goggles and dust mask.

Smooth and level

As mentioned, a concrete grinder uses circular discs of varying grit to remove coatings and smooth over any small ridges or high spots, such as those found along expansion joints.  You will also need to fill any dips or chips with patching compounds to ensure that the surface is completely level. 

As every flooring project is unique, it is important to choose a concrete equipment hire company that is happy to spend some time with you discussing your requirements and your desired outcomes and finding the best and most cost-effective solution.  The quality of the floor preparation will have a direct impact on the quality and durability of your new timber flooring, so it’s really important to choose the right equipment to get the job done properly.

An excellent option for hiring concrete equipment in Perth is Concrete Hire, a family owned WA business with a highly experienced team of professionals on board.   Concrete Hire’s core business is the hire of specialised concrete equipment relating to concrete grinding, polishing, pumping, cleaning, repair and demolition and they have the equipment, the expertise and the desire to get your job done properly, on time and on budget.  To speak to one of their friendly team about your concrete preparation job, give them a call on 0418 222 273 or get in touch via their website,