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Old 09-29-2011, 11:49 AM   #1
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


Hi all,

I'm slowly renovating a 1910 Craftsman. Part of the renovation involved adding a small (150 sq ft) addition on to the house, and I want to match the flooring to the existing 3-1/4" heart pine. These were very common around here in the early 1900s, and I'm lucky enough to live near an architectural salvage yard which deconstructs local houses and had plenty of matching stock.

I bought enough to cover the area (hopefully) and have just finished the very tedious process of cleaning up the tongues and grooves to remove dripped poly which filled the cracks between boards as originally installed. Lots of hours with a wire brush and chisel.... Now I need a few bits of advice on how to proceed.
  • I obviously need to sand all the boards, as they came from various houses and have (slightly) different thicknesses, polys, and stain colors. Should I install as-is and use a floor sander? Or should I rent/buy a thickness planer and clean them up in advance? If I do that, would I still need to sand after install?
  • Do I need to cut out all sections where the tongue is split? Or can I get away with a few feet here and there w/o a tongue?
  • What should I use as an underlayment? I've read rosin paper a few places. My subfloor is 3/4" AdvanTech.
  • What is the preferred fastening method, nails or staples? I have a compressor, but only a finish nailer, so I'll either have to nail by hand or rent something.
Many thanks in advance for the advice.

Matt

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Old 09-29-2011, 02:37 PM   #2
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


Matt it has been several years since I have had antique heart pine flooring installed and they are always coming out with new and different underlayments, so I will leave that to the experts, my installers used felt paper.

You may have some problems since you said your flooring is from different houses and different thicknesses. There is a chance the tongue and groves won't be in the same location or even match. If that is the case, there is a chance that some of the tongues or even the groves might brake off if installed where the bottom of a board doesn't touch the floor because the tongue and groove don't match and are holding the edge of the board off the floor. I hope I explained that right.

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Old 09-29-2011, 03:55 PM   #3
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


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Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
You may have some problems since you said your flooring is from different houses and different thicknesses. There is a chance the tongue and groves won't be in the same location or even match. If that is the case, there is a chance that some of the tongues or even the groves might brake off if installed where the bottom of a board doesn't touch the floor because the tongue and groove don't match and are holding the edge of the board off the floor. I hope I explained that right.
Shoot, I hadn't considered that. In general the boards seem to be pretty close in thickness-- I assumed the difference in thickness was due to different houses having been sanded a different number of times. If true, that would mean that the distance between the tongue and the floor would be relatively constant with all the variance being in the top half of the board.

If I do have a lot of tongue breakage, I'm not against face nailing. We have another addition on the house (circa 1925) with 2" heart pine. I believe it's also tongue and groove, but they have also used two pin nails at each end of each board. So, if I have to go this route in the new addition, it won't be completely inconsistent....

I also have some spots in the old 3-1/4" areas with major termite damage. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) the termite "tracks" don't really go near walls, so I'll be replacing 1-2 boards at a time. I don't see any way of repairing them without ripping off the tongue, then gluing and/or face nailing.

Ah the improvisation required for old houses!

Matt
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


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Originally Posted by gatorheel View Post
Shoot, I hadn't considered that. In general the boards seem to be pretty close in thickness-- I assumed the difference in thickness was due to different houses having been sanded a different number of times. If true, that would mean that the distance between the tongue and the floor would be relatively constant with all the variance being in the top half of the board.

If I do have a lot of tongue breakage, I'm not against face nailing. We have another addition on the house (circa 1925) with 2" heart pine. I believe it's also tongue and groove, but they have also used two pin nails at each end of each board. So, if I have to go this route in the new addition, it won't be completely inconsistent....

I also have some spots in the old 3-1/4" areas with major termite damage. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) the termite "tracks" don't really go near walls, so I'll be replacing 1-2 boards at a time. I don't see any way of repairing them without ripping off the tongue, then gluing and/or face nailing.

Ah the improvisation required for old houses!

Matt
If you have to cut the tongues off you could groove where the tongue was and the cut a spline to go in and use the spline as a tongue. You may be right, the thickness could be from sanding but if it isn't you can do the same, cut the tongues off, groove and use splines.
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:09 PM   #5
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


Anyone have thoughts on planing in advance vs. floor sanding later? If I plane first, will I still have to do a little floor sanding or will the poly fix any teeny height issues? It's very appealing to avoid as much floor sanding as possible.

Thanks!
Matt
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:35 AM   #6
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


I'd plane first to get all boards to as even a thickness as possible and then install. Once installed, it is likely you'll need to sand to even it all out given you have some boards with different tongue/groove dimensions. If you do it the other way, I'd think you could risk getting a ripple effect where you might continue to sand down low and high boards at once, maintaining relative differences; but only a guess.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:27 PM   #7
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


I found a Dewalt DW733 planer at a pawn shop for $150. The knives aren't in great shape, so I'll either have to get them sharpened or get new ones, but otherwise it works great. I made a mess of their front entry testing it since they don't take returns. I also bought a roll of siliconized paper underlayment at Lumber Liquidators. It was a cheap upgrade over rosin paper, all things considered, and it definitely seems more durable.

Still to decide is my fastening system. I'm concerned about using a pneumatic hammer/nailer since I'm not convinced the tongues can survive it. Since the rest of the house's flooring has gaps between boards (relatively small, but definitely not the "zero" space look of modern wood floors), I'm also considering doing it by hand with a block and hammer (but still using my finish nailer to actually drive the fastener). Thoughts on this?

Also trying to decide between nails and staples. Seems like staples are more gentle since they are smaller diameter, but since I don't own a gun yet that would be an added expense. Where else do you use staples? It'd be easier to justify if I'll have future use for it. I can also rent one for $23/day.

Appreciate all the help. I'm trying to start paying it forward on electrical and plumbing parts of the site-- that's where most of my experience is so far.

Matt
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:18 PM   #8
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


OK, moving right along. I had the mobile knife sharpener come and IMHO the planer is working as good as new. I ran all of the boards and ended up taking off about 1/8" (max, some boards much less) of the surface of the boards and they look fantastic. It was interesting how much variation there was even on the same boards-- I assume this was just uneven sanding when refinished in the past.

After researching the cost of renting a flooring stapler, I found a decent price on a refurb which arrived yesterday. So, ready to start fastening! One thing to work out first: there is one step down in the room (part of a complicated scheme to avoid handrails between the original house and outside, the laundry room is 6" down from the main house, there's this large 4x4' "step" by the two doors, leaving no more than two treads to get to ground level outside or the garage floor). Here's the layout:



and here's a photo of the step area (purple box on sketch):



For the main room, I'm planning to run boards left to right (on the sketch), but I need to have at least one or two run perpendicular at the step to act as a tread. I took a few other photos of steps in the house. Here's one from the top of the stairs:



and here's one from the bottom:



Two problems:
  1. There are obviously no end tongues. Should I create some with a router? Or just face nail everything in that section? Since it's a step area, it will be high traffic.
  2. How do I cleanly end the "tread" since there is no wall on the left side to dead-end into? Seems like a self return might work, but there will be main floor boards intersecting it too (unlike on a self return under a window).

I brainstormed five options:











Feedback/advice very appreciated.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 10-21-2011, 03:42 PM   #9
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


If you can create some tongues it I would go that route. We used to live in a 1930 craftsman that had several additions and reworked floors. There were some boards that were face nailed and they were a constant menace with nails coming up.

As far as your design goes I thinking running the board past the knee wall give it more support and bracing. The specific design beyond that is up to your aesthetics.
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:30 PM   #10
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


I went with 2c, and I did route in a groove to the butt-end of the long boards intersecting the tread. The nailer got the cleat less than 2" from the end of the boards, but I figured it wasn't that hard to set up the router once to get a little extra holding power. Here are a few shots of the results. The clamps are there since the salvaged boards I used all had some bowing, and I was a little worried that the hammering required to get the 2nd board flush to the first might break them all free.... The rest of the boards weren't as lucky.




Since the corner of the "tread" was the critical point in the room, I started there:


and built out the floor in both directions. I ripped a spline from a scrap piece of pine, so that starter board has tongues on both sides. Here is is all nailed in and ready for a quick final sand. There is some white vapor barrier (siliconized paper) visible as this part will be covered by built-ins. Franky, I have some extra (my waste was much better than expected, I was worried about running into more cracked tongues since it was all salvage wood), so I might go ahead and fill in under the built-ins in case I ever want to get rid of them.


Thanks for the advice so far, I'll post once more once I have a stain and poly applied. I'm going to try to find a very thick poly, almost like a basketball court. Since this is a primary entry and a laundry room, I want something very durable and one that can withstand a lot of water.

Matt
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:35 PM   #11
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Prep & Install Salvaged Heart Pine Floor


Quote:
Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
You may have some problems since you said your flooring is from different houses and different thicknesses. There is a chance the tongue and groves won't be in the same location or even match. If that is the case, there is a chance that some of the tongues or even the groves might brake off if installed where the bottom of a board doesn't touch the floor because the tongue and groove don't match and are holding the edge of the board off the floor. I hope I explained that right.
I think exactly what you described has happened. Even after planing, I have very slightly uneven boards (less than 1/32" I think). I'm going to do a light final sand to get the surface even and hope it's strong enough to be ok (or that the tongues will slowly warp w/o splitting).

BTW, I probably only took off 1/8" max (some boards were less than 1/32") and here's the pile of sawdust from 150 sq ft....

Matt


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