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old flooring

Old 04-11-2007, 08:18 PM
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Default old flooring

We live in a old house, close to 250 yrs old, and I'm renovating a room and halway up stairs. I gutted everything to the outter walls and ripped the florring to find the original floor boards underneath. I'm in the proccess of sanding off the old finish and am about ready to varnish the floor in about a week. My question is - some of the boards have a pretty good gap between them say around 1/8 -5/32 or so. Is there some kind of clear epoxy or resin that I can put in the gap that will blend in with the clear varnish. Thx.
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:28 PM
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keith....i would consider ripping some thin strips and fitting them in if you can match the existing floor well enough.....unless you mix it with a thickener epoxy will be hard to contain....you can run a bead of caulk down about an eighth on an inch and then epoxy and then varnish but it will be difficult to get a clean job and make it look right....is it a few gaps or every board?
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:44 PM
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Keith - since its winter time and the house may be dry is it possible the joints will close up in the summer when the humidity is higher and the wood swells a little?
Greg (Residential architect - lots of old house work)
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:06 PM
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I restored houses in Savannah for years, and that's a common problem. Some floor guys would take the sanding sawdust and make a putty to fill the gaps. Didn't always work. Are you SURE you want to varnish the floors? What is the wood?
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:35 PM
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I manage property and on one of the parcels is a very old house. It has some very wide pine floors and has the gaps like you mention. The were left as is when we did an addition a couple of years ago. We were able to find old growth pine boards and had them milled to match. Big gaps, cut nails, and all. It is how they did it back then. The refinishing is necessary to protect the wood from water damage. I rather look at poly than water stains. By the time you add area rugs you don't see much of it anyway.

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Old 04-11-2007, 09:46 PM
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It's just a few gaps, I'm just looking to maybe fill in some of the bigger ones so whatever I put down for a finish won't pour through the floor.
I don't think they'll swell up that much they're pretty good size. I put oak floor through most of the down stairs and haven't noticed any problems.
If I don't varnish it what would I put on? I can't leave it raw wood. I think it's either birch or beech. I know it's not oak and pretty certain not pine. When the wood is this old it's hard for me to identify. I know the hand carved beams and rough cut 3x4's that I ran into in the walls and roof are hard as a rock. They're all pretty much the same width, about 4"'s which kinda surprised me after the rough cut planks with the bark on the edges I found for roof decking, which btw somebody said they thought was beech.
The reason somebody put another floor on top was to level the floor, it's a liitle off. But when I saw the original I thought it would be kinda neet to see what I could do with it. As it is I have to use a hand belt sander for the heavy sanding and a palm sander for the finish sanding because the boards aren't exactly even and if I used a commercial sander I think it would thin them out to much. I'm about 80% done with the sanding. For the first couple coats of finish would it be ok to use a squeegee to apply it or will that be to thick and take forever to dry? My wife wants to just say forget it and put carpeting in. I did that to the other room upstairs and am not of fan of it. Thx for all your help and I'll take any ideas you might have.
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:59 PM
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Keith, you may have long leaf yellow pine, or antique hard pine a very beautiful wood commonly used for floors in the norehteast a couple hundred years ago. Gorgeous stuff much sought after and expensive nowadays. We've had some clients used boiled linssed oil and even tung oil which gives the wood a nice mellow sheen. Not as durable as poly but a good look and traditional too.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:33 PM
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Mymojo, I used tung oil on my cabinets in the kitchen when I refinished them and liked the results but I'm not sure it will hold up to floor abuse, not to mention the buffing I had to do to bring out the finish, whew. You might have something with that hard pine stuff, whatever that is, never heard of the stuff. But the main reason I kinda ruled out pine is because of how hard it is. But the occasional small knot looks sorta like pine. I'll take a few pic's and see if I can post them within a few days and maybe give you guy's a better idea of what I'm dealing with.
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Old 04-12-2007, 04:24 AM
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How thick are your baseboards? Could you not pull your baseboards, then pull the all the boards up which make up the floor and relay them tight together? So what if you have voids under the baseboards on each side!
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Old 04-12-2007, 09:26 AM
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Kieth

Gaps in the unlevel floor and walls that are out of plumb, I think that is part and parcel of having an old house. No way would I remove or try to pull up 250 year old floor boards. I garauntee the results of that would not be good.

Filling the gaps? I don't know maybe some sort of sawdust glue mixture, but it would never match and I don't know about durability.

Like I said I think I would maybe do the best I could with refinishing to bring out the true age and beauty of the 250 year old wood, but no way would I take a chance in harming the history. Leave the gaps make'em part of the house.
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Old 04-12-2007, 05:54 PM
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Yeah Twentynine, I agree. I think labeling each one and yanking them would be a major disaster. I'd be lucky to get half of them up in one piece. Looks like it's gonna be floor varnish and a brush then. Thx.
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:38 PM
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twentynine - 4/12/2007 9:26 AM

Leave the gaps make'em part of the house.
We have a couple of rooms with 100+ year old heart pine. Gaps in the winter, no gaps in the summer. It's called personality.

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Old 04-12-2007, 08:41 PM
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In Gawga the heart pine floors were 5/4" thick with no subfloor. Walls were built on top of the floor. Sometimes we'd cut the floor out of a closet to patch with.
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Old 04-12-2007, 09:21 PM
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Bill, I'm not sure of the thickness, but I know there is no subfloor due to the occasional flex I get in the wood when jumping my 6'3" 250# butt around up stairs. The inner walls are on top of the floor but didn't notice how it tied into the outer walls which are 6x6 hand hued horizontal main carriers mortis and tennoned to the same on the vertical ends held together with 1" pegs. In between are vertical 3x4 rough sawed boards. It's definately been a learning curve. I loved the lesson on cutting a light tight and sguare piece of sheet rock and ended up big on one side and small on the other.
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Old 04-13-2007, 09:05 AM
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Yer welcome. I'm doing a buncha "california hot patches" right now on our kitchen design showroom. Older houses were "balloon framed", with exterior and bearing walls extending from the sill to the roof. On these bearing framing members, a ledger is attached to receive the ends of the flooring, which usually run "wild" into the wall cavity.
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Old 04-13-2007, 09:09 AM
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BTW, true pine flooring was "quarter sawn", which leaves strong grain lines in the wood. Heart pine sawn this way is extremely hard. Color,grain, and the smell of a cut piece are the tell.
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:47 AM
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Keith
Here's the anatomy of a 250 y.o. cape style house on the Cape of all places!
Maybe your place goes together like this one.


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Old 04-13-2007, 12:56 PM
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my house started as a tool shed sometime in the late 1800's.. which aint old for here but old enough......i agree with 29...its history.....my floors are fir...bout 75 years old and are pretty rough in spots.........adds character....my framing looks a lot like yours also.......not hard to visualize them gang cutting the studs with a two man timber saw.....laying it out and throwing it up......tape, level,?
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Old 04-13-2007, 03:42 PM
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I applaud you Greg for getting right into it. How current are those three pics above?

With your house being 250 yrs. old has the historical society stepped in or is your house of little to no interest to them, do they even know you are tearing into it? I know up here once they get a sniff of something along the lines of what you are doing they'd be down on us like vultures on spoils......they'll govern everything right down to the type of finished nails that can and can not be used! So how's it for you, can you do as you please?

How's your heating bill come winter time, isn't that a cold house come winter in Ma.?

edit: what is your objective in regards to your renovation direction?

edit: looking at that first pic of the three, those exposed beams look like Eastern White Pine. Basically any of your woods with high sap content over time become very hard....it's like the sap becomes a hardened epoxy!
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Old 04-13-2007, 07:02 PM
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Garrett-just to clarify the photos are of a clients house we are renovating/restoring. I'm an architect and this is one of the houses I'm involved in.
The local historic commission is involved to some degree. they have jurisdiction on the exterior of the house and we got all the necessary approvals from them. Client wants it to look like it was never touched - so we're being carefull to keep as much as we can while integrrating modern systems and augmenting the structure as needed. The old places around us are typically post and beam construction with the exterior sheathing attached to the sill plate and top plate. the sheathing usually rots at the sill so the house can get very loosey-goosey requiring some type of intervention to keep it stable. Notice the width of the sheathing boards - some are over 24" wide, 1 1/2" thick and up to 8' long without a single knot in them - truly things of beauty!
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