Face nailing an entire floor - salvaged 5/8" x 2" oak


Old 12-21-09, 02:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 31
Face nailing an entire floor - salvaged 5/8" x 2" oak

I am pulling 800 sf of 5/8" x 2" solid oak flooring out of a friend's house. I am going to install it in my house over the existing floor, which is 3/4" x 3-1/4" fir (there is no subfloor under the fir, and it's in pretty ugly shape. So the fir will become the subfloor for the oak.)

I am un-installing the oak from the tongue side, but I am breaking off the bottom of the groove on almost all the boards I pull out. Because they are only 5/8" thick, the bottom part of the groove is extremely thin; probably 1/8." It's really frustrating.

I have two options, as I see it.

Option One: Let the bottom grooves break off and then face nail and glue everything when I install it. With this option, I would just pull out the oak quickly and let the bottom of the groove break off. Then when I installed it in my house, I would glue the heck out of it and face nail it about every foot along the groove side. Not just the starting courses, but the entire floor. The nails would hold down the groove side, while the tongue side would be held down by the top groove on the adjoining board. I would like to use 16 ga finish nails, and then just fill the holes. Would splitting be an issue, do you think?

Option Two: Cut all the nails as I pull out the boards. This option would be a lot more time-consuming, and I would go through a lot of sawzall demo blades. But I could preserve the grooves and blind-nail the boards like one is supposed to do.

I'd rather do Option One. What issues do you see with face-nailing an entire floor like that? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 12-21-09, 03:55 PM
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How do you intend to glue?

I'm a painter not a floor guy but I've put down some hardwood in my house using a 16 gauge finish nailer. Splitting the wood was not a problem, and I used the leftover oak [culls] from several jobs. Mostly I toe nailed thru the tongue but I did face nail in a few places. Once stained, puttied and polyurethane you really have to hunt for the nails
You do need to make sure they are set deep enough where you can't catch the nail heads with sandpaper.
Old 12-21-09, 05:10 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 31
The gluing thing appears to be controversial. A lot of guys are really pro-gluing, while a lot of other guys say "wood has to move!"

This article was interesting. They say to use trowelled-on urethane flooring glue:
Glued-Down Wide Pine Flooring
Old 12-22-09, 11:08 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: nj
Posts: 117
I can certainly appreciate the effort you're putting in doing this along with recycling and re-using materials but I gotta ask the question - why not just install new stock in your house? have you priced it out?

You're putting in a lot of hours of labor carefullly removing the material and then a ton more installing by the time your done gluing, nailing and finishing. Its not as though you're salvaging a rare wood species. I would think your time is worth something.
Old 12-22-09, 01:48 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 31
Definitely a valid question. From what I can tell, it's about $3 a square foot for oak (retail; I'm obviously not a contractor) here in Portland. So that would be around $2000 there. Still have to install it, rent the blind-nailer tool, sand it, finish it, etc. also. I don't like the bevel on the prefinished stuff, so that's out.

Pulling out all this oak will take me a few days, but (unfortunately) my labor isn't worth more than about $20 an hour if we go by what I make at my job. If I do the finish-nail approach, I can just use my nail gun and not rent the blind-nailer. I'll have to pay extra for the glue, obviously, and sand it down a lot more to get all the old finish and stain off... Also, I'll have to fill all those holes, but I think I'll rent some friends with a bunch of beer and get them to do that. But still... unless it takes me more than say, 80 extra hours to use the salvaged stuff, I think I'm still in the black. But I completely get your point; it is going to be a pain.

The biggest hassle, honestly, is thinking about exactly how I'm going to do it and trying to make sure that it's actually going to work so I don't put all this effort in and have it look awful at the end.

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