Naildown Floor Board Orientation


Old 04-22-09, 08:21 AM
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Naildown Floor Board Orientation

I am preparing to install nail down solid bamboo flooring in my home over the weekend and had some questions on board direction and layout.

Here are some initial specs on the space and home. The flooring is going down above a walk out basement so it is essentially above grade.

Sub floor is 3/4 osb. Floor joists are wood I beam 19.2 on center with a deflection rating of 420.

Flooring to be installed is 1/2 solid bamboo.

Total installation is approximately 650 sq. ft and encompasses a large kitchen, living room and family room.

My question on the install is regarding flooring orientation. I have read several articles and installation guides that recommend installing the flooring perpendicular to the floor joists in order to add strength to the floor. I have read other articles that say to install the flooring parallel to the way light comes into the room. I am wondering which is best. For our room it would probably be easier from a layout / cut perspective to lay the floor parallel to the joists but I don't want to do this if it will cause a flooring failure at some point. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 04-22-09, 11:03 AM
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I've been going through the same decision process.

Here are some "rules" I've run into:

1) For strength and to prevent cupping, floors go perpendicular to the joists.

2) Aesthetically, floors look best when run parallel to the room's long dimension. (This usually puts them perpendicular to the joists, too.)

3) Aesthetically, floors should run the same direction as light beams coming into the room. (I don't agree. I like floors to be perpendicular to entry doors. Personal taste.)

4) To prevent cupping, if being installed over old hardwood floors, the new floor should be perpendicular to the old. (I'm investigating this one, because it means the floors in my entry and hall must be installed along the short dimension.)

5) Floors should run in the same direction throughout the house. (I'm violating this rule for a number of reasons - I've seen some nice houses that have floors running in different directions.)

Over a basement, make sure you use a moisture resistant barrier, like 15 lb felt; not just rosin paper.

And, if you haven't purchased your bamboo floors yet, be aware that some bamboo products are much more durable than others. I have a very soft bamboo in my den and it scratches very easily.
Old 04-23-09, 10:20 AM
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Thanks Ktuck,
Sounds like I am running into a lot of the same advice as you.

I think where the trouble comes in is that the strength argument conflicts with the aesthetic argument. I think in my case I am going to do the install based on the following priorities.

1. What will be easiest to install - because our home is open concept and flows from one room to the next one orientation may be much easier to install from a cut perspective. This is my first consideration.

2. What looks best

3. What is strongest

Because the home is new build with above average joist ratings I am not as concerned about cupping so if I end up running the boards perpendicular because of points 1 or 2 then great, if not I am not too worried.

I am hoping the Bamboo I purchased stands up pretty well. I did some home scratch tests on it and it appears to have good ability to resist wear and tear.

That being said we have no children and no pets so we are probably a pretty light wear household in general.
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