Flooring – How to lay the engineered flooring to account for a hearth


I'm scratching my head over how to layout some new flooring in relationship to our walls vs. hearth.

This is an engineered floor with somewhat wide boards (about 4.5")

As it happens, I could lay them out and not need to rip any of the boards as they'd fit wall-to-wall (see bottom image). However, if I do that, I'd need to notch-out a few to go around the tile hearth (top image).

Is this just an aesthetic decision I need to make or is there a general rule of thumb? My initial thought was that having a nice line across the front of the hearth would be better, as that seems like a dominant element in the room. But that would leave two uneven slivers of full boards on either side of the room and maybe that would look even more odd?

I should also note that around the hearth, there will be a beveled wood trim piece as the flooring is about a half inch lower than the hearth. I don't know if that would change things or not (would that hide the notch or accentuate it?)

enter image description here

Top image: floor laid out with seam lining up with front of hearth. This leaves two different sized partial strips on either end of the room.

Bottom image: floors laid out evenly wall-to-wall. Needs to be notched to fit around hearth.

Best Answer

Most installs I have done we have trimmed around the fireplace. There are several ways to do it. If your fireplace hearth sits on flat ground we try to meet even - which is almost impossible unless you did the floor and hearth all in one install.

Most of the time we trim around the fireplace first and then cut to the trim. This is very very very time consuming because you will potentially have a lot of boards meet the trim and they need to be within 1/32".

An easier way to do this, especially if the hearth material is not as even, is to add a riser then maybe an optional board (or partial board). So you would layout your wood and just get as close as you can to fireplace then nail down the riser around the fireplace. The corners take some work but this is pretty easy. This looks really good if it is brick and you can get (or notch) the riser so its back sits in a mortar line.

enter image description here

And a note on floating - I would probably use a riser. Because you could set the floating wood 1/4 inch from fireplace, giving it a proper gap, and then staple the riser just to the underlying floating wood. It would still be floating then.