Quantcast

Looking for Advice on Installing Hardwood Flooring!

Help Support Flooring Forum:

Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
New member here and first time installing solid hardwood flooring.

-3/4" x 2-1/4" W Unfinished Hickory Flooring
-Variously Sized

This flooring was bought from an Amish mill in Wisconsin so there's no name brand manufacturer with recomendations on installation.

The Issue: I'm sure I'll have several questions but the main problem is that the boards are bowed. This is making it difficult to start the first few rows. Is it possible to use a couple flooring ratchet straps to pull the first row tight against a 2x4? Are there any suggested methods out there to straighten the first several boards in the starting rows before install?

20200808_222843.jpg
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
My other question is; how particular is hardwood flooring when it comes to crowns and dips in the subfloor? The subfloor is pretty rough. I've used leveling compound nearly everywhere and it's going to take about 300LBS worth to get this thing somewhat flat.

This is just a 350 sq ft living room. I'm fairly certain that it has underlying moisture issues since it has what I believe is a tiny crawlspace (and I see zero venting). I'm just doing this for my dad. He's kind of in denial when I mention things like this.
 

Dan

Professional
Pro
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
387
Location
, MO
If there's a moisture issue it MUST be rectified first. If not addressed you're wasting time and money. You need to look in the crawl space to be sure the earth is 100% (not 95%) covered with plastic sheeting. Edges of sheeting should be overlapped. Taped is better. Sheeting should also go up foundation walls past the soil line outside.

Check relative humidity in the crawl space also. Indoor conditions should be 60-80°F and 35-50% relative humidity. You want conditions in the crawl space as close to that as possible. Relative humidity upwards of 65-70% in the crawl space are going to lead to high moisture content in the subfloor, which will in turn lead to high moisture content in the wood flooring.

I don't even want to go into what happens when you use self leveler, then drive nails through it. Find out why the subfloor is not flat and address that issue now, or you'll be throwing good money after bad.

As to the bowed boards, try using a flathead screwdriver. At an angle tap it with a hammer and pull the board over as your tapping. Driving the screwdriver into the subfloor just a bit to hold the board in place so you can fasten it. It's a PITA. If all the boards are like that, you're in for a fun install. Keep in mind, if one board isn't quite tight at the end and only leaves a tiny gap, that gap will be repeated when the next board is installed.
 

highup

Professional
Pro
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Messages
10,749
Location
,
I'm wondering about how to get the first row straight. I don't do nail down wood.
On floating floor installations I have gone so far as to snap a chalk line and then screw down 4 to 6-inch wide strips of plywood exactly on the chalk line. With this done you now have a perfectly straight edge upon which to start your first row. You can force, pry, nail and or clamp your first rows of planking against that temporary strip of plywood.
Once you have all the rest of the wood flooring installed , you would then remove those strips of temporary plywood that you screwed down along side of your chalk line.
Now you will be working backwards for a few rows until you get to the wall. That will only be two or three rows of boards.
You may need to glue down those last remaining three rows of boards or even face nail them.
Using this method or another it's very important to begin your installation with a perfectly straight row.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
I got er' under control now. I had to have a buddy help me measure and chalk line. I'm terrible at measuring. Ripped some strips of plywood to use as a straight line. I started near the center of a large open floor space. Adjusting the boards with a block and hammer if they are off kilter is a bit more forgiving than I initially thought. I can see why the first two or three rows is the most challenging now.

As far as the condition of the subfloor, I'm going to look in to venting the "crawl space"; which isn't really accessible. It's about a cinder block in height under the joists which run over the basement and under the upstairs living room. Kind of a strange design.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
I'm facing some additional challenges; not one of these unfinished planks are perfectly straight. Some are also have small variances in width which leaves me with gaps. The bowing makes it tough to place them together but I've found strategies to install the bowed planks.

Is it common to have small gaps in unfinished wood flooring? I'm trying my hardest to eliminate gaps with the use of flooring tools, ratchets, etc but I can only do so much to avoid the gaps. Will sanding dust fill these voids or is there a trick to hide these?

Other question; how many inches apart do you nail a 2-1/4" plank? I've read 8" - 10". But I am guestimating the distance rather than pulling out a tape measure. Sometimes I accidently nail near the same spot twice. What are the impacts of using too many fasteners?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
 

Attachments

Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
If there's a moisture issue it MUST be rectified first. If not addressed you're wasting time and money. You need to look in the crawl space to be sure the earth is 100% (not 95%) covered with plastic sheeting. Edges of sheeting should be overlapped. Taped is better. Sheeting should also go up foundation walls past the soil line outside.

Check relative humidity in the crawl space also. Indoor conditions should be 60-80°F and 35-50% relative humidity. You want conditions in the crawl space as close to that as possible. Relative humidity upwards of 65-70% in the crawl space are going to lead to high moisture content in the subfloor, which will in turn lead to high moisture content in the wood flooring.

I don't even want to go into what happens when you use self leveler, then drive nails through it. Find out why the subfloor is not flat and address that issue now, or you'll be throwing good money after bad.

As to the bowed boards, try using a flathead screwdriver. At an angle tap it with a hammer and pull the board over as your tapping. Driving the screwdriver into the subfloor just a bit to hold the board in place so you can fasten it. It's a PITA. If all the boards are like that, you're in for a fun install. Keep in mind, if one board isn't quite tight at the end and only leaves a tiny gap, that gap will be repeated when the next board is installed.
I didn't use "self leveling" compound. I used VersaPatch 327. It's not self leveling but is much harder than self leveling compounds. It's difficult to work with as it begins to cure in around 10 minutes and requires multiple coats and scraping to get the floor where it's flat.
 
Last edited:

highup

Professional
Pro
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Messages
10,749
Location
,
I didn't use "self leveling" compound. I used VersaPatch 327. It's not self leveling but is much harder than self leveling compounds. It's difficult to work with as it begins to cure in around 10 minutes and requires multiple coats and scraping to get the floor where it's flat.
There's a difference between level and flat...... A floor that's at a 5 degree incline can be flat.
 

highup

Professional
Pro
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Messages
10,749
Location
,
Is the wood from lumber liquidators?
New wood floors are filled before sanding.
 

highup

Professional
Pro
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Messages
10,749
Location
,
Wood flooring is not my specialty so the distance between fasteners and the fastener type be it staples or cleats is beyond my pay grade. That said getting two Staples or nails right next to each other can split the wood especially near the ends.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
Do you know if filling gaps is a usual process for unfinished flooring? There's really nothing I could do to avoid gaps.
 

Dan

Professional
Pro
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
387
Location
, MO
Do you know if filling gaps is a usual process for unfinished flooring? There's really nothing I could do to avoid gaps.
Full trowel filling an unfinished floor is a regularly followed practice. Many will keep the dust from the first sanding sequence to mix with the filler to help try to match the color of the flooring. Be prepared, as it is not uncommon for filler along edges to pop out.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2020
Messages
17
Location
54011
Alright. So I'm looking for the best method to fill gaps in hickory flooring. This flooring is very colorful in tone when not water popped or prestained. What do you suggest for filling gaps in this scenario? Wood the sawdust method be visible between the variations in wood tone?
 

highup

Professional
Pro
Joined
Mar 6, 2011
Messages
10,749
Location
,
If you mean sawdust mixed with adhesive I wouldn't do that. You don't want the boards glued together edgewise. The boards need to expand and contract independently.
 

Dan

Professional
Pro
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
387
Location
, MO
You want to use filler. Sometimes sanding dust from the floor is added to the filler to help with the color. The thing about hickory is the contrast between heartwood and sapwood. Brown vs white.. Whatever color the filler is, it's still going to show up at one point or another.
 

Latest posts

Top