Technical Flooring Tips

British Standards or BS. Why they matter and how to avoid problems in the future.

For those of us who work in the flooring industry, the British Standards 8201:2011 is entwined in everything we do. But what actually is it, and does it actually matter if you’re buying a floor?

Some light reading for your Summer holidays?

For those of you who don’t know, The British Standards Institution, is a non-profit body that produces technical procedures on every aspect of the construction trade.

The standard that deals with flooring is the catchily named BS8210:2011. This is a document that sets out the “Code of practice for installation of flooring of wood and wood-based panels'”. It covers everything from how to plan your installation, the wood you should use, design and installation considerations, different fitting strategies for almost all of the key types of wood flooring, and maintenance and upkeep. It’s pretty detailed, even listing the timbers suitable for skating rink floors…(apparently Japanese maple works really well..)

Keep reading!! We know you’re glazing over now… but this stuff is important. 

This flooring code of practice is the small print of the industry; almost every flooring retailer in the UK will say “floors must be fitted in accordance with BS8210:2011”. 

And do you know what’s scary? Nobody has read it. 

Well, almost nobody, as we have. Our fitters have been trained under its guidelines, but a copy doesn’t reside in their vans in case they have a last minute query. If you’re working with a building contractor I can guarantee they won’t have read it.

And why haven’t they read it?

Well, partly it’s down to cost. The cost to buy the report (unless you’re a member…) is £289 + vat. It’s also not exactly a page turner, stretching across 82 pages….and yet fitting floors to these standards is what protects fitting teams and ultimately consumers.

Why? Well, if you have a fault with your floor (and with natural products, it does happen… ) it will either be down to manufacturing or fitting. And if the floor is not fitted to British Standards… it gets messy, with blame being passed around, and a frustrated customer in the middle.

You want a wood floor. But don't know which to choose.
This oak layer is splitting, and the top layer is “delaminating”. Fitting or manufacturing error? It could be both..

Paying attention now? 

So, the next question is what do you need to do as a consumer to protect yourself?

Well, the first thing is to have an awareness that it exists (and hopefully, you do now!). The second is to ask whoever is fitting the floor whether they fit according to British Standards? 

You should get a general feel of how competent the person is from this answer. We talk at length about the standards with our customers (if they want to….). Some of the recommendations are very conservative, for example the requirement for expansion gaps with glue down flooring, and also the level of deviation allowed in a subfloor if you’re floating your floor. Many of the standards also differ from our European friends (…but that’s a blog for another time…). 

But we feel, any professional fitter, should know the rules of the game (even if they break them occasionally). And if they don’t even know there’s a rule book? Well, you probably shouldn’t let them play.

Happy Project Planning.

To learn more about when you need a professional fitter, read our article here.

You can also learn about how to choose a new wood floor here.

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