Laying Scotia On Your Laminate Flooring
Why? Remember the Expansion Gap
The first thing is to know what Scotia is and why you need it. You can see an example of scotia here. But why do you need it?
Laminate flooring naturally absorbs and releases moisture from the room environment in response to seasonal changes in air temperature. This process causes the flooring material to both increase and decrease in size - Winter heating creates higher humidity which causes expansion and this action tends to slightly push the flooring sections apart and towards the room edges. Summer heat dries the atmosphere and has the opposite effect, causing flooring sections to slightly shrink in size.
To counteract this movement and to compensate for its effects, flooring installations leave a uniform10mm 'expansion gap' around the perimeter of the floor (see our laminate flooring installation guide. This is achieved by using spacers when the flooring is laid, to ensure the flooring doesn't go up to the wall. Afterwards, scotia trim is used to cover this gap, both to improve the finished appearance of the flooring and to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating in the recess.
Fitting Scotia Trim
Materials required: scotia moulding, nail fixings, decorators caulk.
Tools required: Fine-tooth tenon saw, mitre box, tape measure.
1. Measure around the entire perimeter (outside edge) of your flooring to determine the total length of scotia trim required. Then add up to 25 per cent more to allow for wastage. This is the amount of scotia you will need for the job. Purchase trim which will match both your flooring and skirting – if you are unsure, ask for small samples to take home to help you decide. If you are finding it hard to match the colour of wood, then go for a colour that matches your skirting, for example white skirting and scotia will not look out of place. Be sure to also purchase the recommended size of pin nails for fixing the scotia in place.
2. Cut your first scotia section to fit the length of the longest straight section of skirting board. If you have one or more outside corners, you will need to add the scotia thickness to the total length for each occurrence (‘outside’ corners turn away from the face of the scotia moulding, whereas on ‘inside’ corners the two walls run together – like the four inside corners of a square).
3. To achieve a neat ‘finished’ look, any end of scotia which meets another piece will need to be cut to a 45 degree mitre joint. The best way to do this is to use a fine-toothed tenon saw and a mitre box (used to guide and stabilise the saw cut to produce an accurate finish). For inside corners, mitres should be cut so that the longest scotia edge is furthest away from your floor when the scotia is laid out in position. However, when constructing outside corners, the longest scotia edge should be closest to the floor when in position.
For best results, the scotia must be clamped firmly to avoid movement during cutting. If necessary, practice your cutting with waste wood to improve your technique before cutting the scotia material. As a further check, cut a piece of paper to fit and match your right-angle corner. Fold the paper in half by aligning the two sides which were against the walls. This forms a 45 degree angle – the cutting angle for your scotia piece. When laid out, your two finished scotia joints should resemble the unfolded paper.
4. When cut and fitted in position, the scotia moulding should be nailed to the skirting at a spacing of one nail every 30cm. Do not nail the scotia moulding to the floor – this would reintroduce expansion problems. You may also want to purchase 'pipe roses' which hide the gap around radiator pipes and give a nicer finish.
Some gaps may appear when your scotia moulding is fixed in position. This is often due to unevenness in walls or sections of skirting. To hide these imperfections and to improve the finished look, ‘decorators caulk’ (a flexible filler) can be used to seal the gaps and, where necessary, to hide any holes created by the nail fixings.
You can view our full selection of scotia and flooring accessories by visiting our flooring essentials page.