1890 flooring problems


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Old 12-12-06, 02:13 PM
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1890 flooring problems

Hey all,

I am in serious need of some advice and I'm hoping someone on these here forums might be able to lend me some.

I am currently renovating an 1890 house in Denver. For whatever reason (lack of proper acclimation of the pine floors, maybe?) there are gaps between every one of the boards. On the first floor the boards are three inches wide and on the second floor they are about 5 1/2 inches wide. Not only is there the godawful gaps but the floors have obviously not been well cared for over the last 116 years. They are chipped, dinged, cupped, nailed, and the kitchen has some of that crappy stick-on vinyl tile on it.

Naturally, re-finishing isn't an option unfortunately.

So I'm going to lay down new floors on top. I've decided on bamboo because I like the look of it, it's good for the environment, and most importantly it's relatively cheap.

Now, here's my problem. I have to put the new floors on top of the old ones because the existing floors are the only thing sitting on top of the floor joists. No subfloor no nuthin'. Certainly I could rip the old floors up and throw down some OSB, except for the fact that some of the walls in the house rest on the boards that straddle a couple floor joists, making removal of those boards impossible.

Even bigger problem is that I don't want to lay down the new floors perpendicular to the existing floors. The way the boards sit now they run the length of the house from front to back. Putting them the other way would look strange and be rather off-putting. SO, is there any way I can sand down the existing floors and use them as a subfloor without having to lay down the new bamboo in such a way as to make it look weird?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 12-12-06, 03:36 PM
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I don't see how you can lay the new floor parrallel to the old an not have problems.......without some underlayment. Any underlayment(thicker is better), like 3/8 or better would strengthen what is there and allow you to lay the new floor as you wish. Be sure to put rosin or felt between the layers as a buffer.
 
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Old 12-12-06, 04:24 PM
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Do you mean the boards -say - begin at the front door and go straight to the back door ?

Mine run the other way and they look great and not one guest has ever said a thing - your the first to mention that there was a proper way
 
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Old 12-12-06, 06:36 PM
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My concern is more with the product you've chosen than the install issues. Colorado has very little humidity. Bamboo is grass with lots of moisture. I have a friend in Colorado who had to pull all of their bamboo up because it cracked and shrank due to the lack of humidity. They even tried humidifying just the master bedroom trying to keep it in at least one room and couldn't get the humidity high enough so they wound up tearing it all out. Have you considered any of this in your choice of flooring? That's a lot of expence if it doesn't hold up.
 
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Old 12-12-06, 10:48 PM
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First of all thank you for all the helpful replies. Right now I am first thinking about putting down a 3/8 subfloor over the existing floor and putting the new floors on top of that. Secondly, I'm considering running the floors perpendicular to the existing flooring, despite my initial reservations.

As for the bamboo choice, I'm actually glad you brought it up. I was under the impression that bamboo is almost more akin to a laminate floor in the sense that it is composed of several layers of steamed and pressed bamboo, which I thought would minimize the shrinkage once installed. I had no idea bamboo flooring was as susceptible to shrinking as are other types of hardwood flooring. I will certainly have to reconsider my choice.
 
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Old 12-13-06, 04:18 AM
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I disagree with the idea that bamboo won't work in Colo., but then I am nearly at sea level where low humidity is 70%. It is too thin to be anything but an engineered or laminate type floor, which should make it stable. Keep in mind that any flooring has to be acclimated (stored with containers open)to the room where it will be installed, several weeks is good, longer is better.

Once you have laid a good firm underlayment, it should not matter which direction the flooring runs.
 
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Old 12-13-06, 06:56 AM
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Any bamboo flooring I've ever seen was 3/4 thick just like oak, hickory, or most hardwoods. Shaw makes a laminate designed to look like bamboo, but is no more bamboo than a wood look laminate is wood. 70% humidity is a far cry from the eight to ten% humidity found in most parts of Colorado. Bamboo floors require a much higher humidity level than that. It would hold up well in 70% but not in eight or ten.
 
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Old 12-13-06, 08:19 AM
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In an old house like that I would go for a classic 3/4" oak floor. Finish it yourself w/ stain and poly. Bamboo will not look good. I almost put bamboo in my house and I am so glad I did not. The stuff may be cheap, but it also performs cheap. It dents easily and yellows easily. A CNN poll indicated that bamboo is out for '07 as people have not had good experiences. You wouldn't want to try to resell your house with that. With classic wood you'll get every penny back on resale with a decent install job. Whatever you do, do not go for a cheap bamboo product. You will not be happy. If money is tight, try to find some unfinished 3/4" oak from a local saw mill and install, sand, stain, and poly to choice. It will be a little more work, but the character of the floor will match your older house. (FWIW, a friend of mine did exactly that in his older house.)

I almost bought some bamboo from a big discount shop and the stuff just didn't look great. If you are hell-bent on installing bamboo, I would go find somebody who has had it in their house for a few years and find out what brand they have.

Regardless, put down a sub-floor, 3/8", 1/2", 3/4" - anything will be better than just putting down a new floor on top of the old. Opting not to put down a subfloor is asking for problems down the road. Your subfloor is your foundation. Build a good foundation and the floor will last a long time. Then you can run the boards anyway you like. It will cost you a few bucks, but when you see how much time and effort is required you will want to do it the right way so that you don't have to do it again in a few years.

Just my advice. I am not an expert. I am a DIY homeowner putting in my own subfloor and wood floors w/ advice from others. Now that I am building my subfloor I totally understand what the pros are talking about when they say not to skimp on materials or quantity of fasteners, etc. This is the type of project that you want to do the right way once. It is too expensive and time consuming to have to do it again in a few years cause you tried to save a few bucks.
 

Last edited by cycloxer13; 12-13-06 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 12-19-06, 12:11 AM
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no subfloor-needs raised by at least 2"

I have very similar condition. My house is 106 years old and has hardwoods right on joists. Problem I have though is that they are also uneven. I have tried to find cause but it is hard. I used level underneath in basement on bottom of joists but it is hard to do because of plumbing, electrical lines everywhere. I think it might be some buckling of the floor boards and not the joists. I am putting on addition so want new floor everywhere. Contractor is planning on putting on subfloor and and then leveler compound if it is off and then lay floor. before I was putting on addition, when neighbors had some flooring done, I had installer come take a look. I thought that I would rather remove old floor and then lay subfloor right on joists. Installer could do it that way but don't remember what his preference was. He did not speak english well! I was just going to cut around walls and leave existing floor under the walls and cut new subfloor around the walls. Would this be OK?

Now the kicker-when they poured for my new addition, they poured it too high. So my old floor has to be raised. may be 2" too low. How in the heck can you raise it that much? Can the floor joists support the weight? they are rough cut 2x8 (since so old they actually measure around 2"x 7 3/4") The span is about 15 1/2 '
 
 

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