Hump/Warp in Original Floorboards (Built in 1853) - I Want to Be Careful!


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Old 11-16-20, 03:00 PM
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Hump/Warp in Original Floorboards (Built in 1853) - I Want to Be Careful!

Hello all,

New to the forums here, and I hope I can be at least a fraction as helpful in the future as I’m sure all of you here will be to me.

Brief back-story: I just purchased our first house—built in 1853 at the top of a tall ridge in the Western NY region. It’s a very, very well-kept place, with additions put on in the ‘70s. The previous owners decided they wanted to stick with the original flooring (looks to me like a finished Walnut, made from the trees on/near the property). Stone foundation with a partially finished basement (no insulation but several appliances installed down there).

My wife and I love the look and “history” that the current living room flooring—which is the bare floorboards with what looks like a polyurethane finish —gives the place... but at the same time, we have two young children, which means a ton of foot traffic and many spills (which has us noticing that the old poly finish is beginning to weaken, as a tiny bit of the liquid spills permeate). We want to install similar-color laminate flooring, underlay and all, while preserving the history of the place, as it deserves.

I read a little, and watched a little, on DIY floor leveling, and driving loose boards into the joists with the appropriate screws. But then I come across this hump, or what looks like warping? that goes all the way across all joists in the room. (See pics) Looks like that’s been there awhile.

Since I’m pretty new to this area of DIY, I’m unsure of what steps to take first in (1.) inspecting for the root cause and (2.) solving the problem.

One video I did see featured a guy using a level and pencil to cut 2x4 cross pieces to put over the floorboards in such a way that contour the uneven floor and will set a level field for the underlay. But is this a wise approach? I’m worried that failing to address the warping from underneath will only cause problems, down the road, for any new flooring.

Thanks all, in advance!






 
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Old 11-16-20, 03:03 PM
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(I should also point out, as it might be useful information: the adjacent room that you see in the first photo is part of the addition to the house, and does not share the original stone foundation; where the floorboards meet the runner there is the edge of the basement.)
 
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Old 11-16-20, 03:56 PM
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Have you gone below to look at the area of the hump/ridge. Is there a beam or anything underneath?
 
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Old 11-17-20, 08:10 AM
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Thank you. I was assuming that there wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary downstairs, so I didn’t give it a thought. Naturally, I should have given it a thought. 😆

So I went down to the basement, determined the location of the “ridge,” and: Io and behold.






Big cross-beam held up by a pair of (old) jack posts. Looks like the floor has sagged a little over time (also interesting, though unrelated: the joists are half-logs! Owning this old architecture is fascinating to me).

That peg in the second photo might be a problem. I can’t tell for sure, but I don’t think that peg presses in to allow for lowering the post. I have no idea if I’d want to, anyway—even if I did rent a jack post to lift the beam and adjust the threaded heads lower.

Not sure how to approach this just yet....
 
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Old 11-17-20, 08:33 AM
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Don't worry, you don't have to do anything. Actually, you don't WANT to do anything.
Realistically, you can't do anything about it - it took 167 years for that 'hump' to develop,
and it would take at least another 167 years to jack everything back to level.

That's a common part of any wooden structure- even the large dimension wood bends over time.
It's part of the 'character' of an old house, like the occasional squeaky board on the staircase.

If it annoys you, you can put down a rag-rug runner over it, and you generally won't notice it, unless you're walking around in bare fee.
 
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Old 11-17-20, 11:05 AM
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Have you looked at the perimeter of your house? How is it framed? Is it round logs or sawn lumber?

Does the hump in the floor extend all the way to the exterior walls of the house on both ends or is it just a hump in the central area of the house?

The lally columns are obviously a much later addition probably to fix a sagging beam/floor. I would now be looking at the perimeter of the house for a reason why everything else has dropped. The perimeter foundation walls might have continued to sink after the lally columns were installed. Or you have some insect or water damage to the wood around the perimeter causing the outer edges of the house to compress. It's also possible the foundation walls are slowly sinking into the ground as I doubt you have a footer by modern standards.

If there is no damage around the perimeter you can consider lowering your columns to help level the floor. Before doing this though you need to look at the whole house as a unit. Lowering the hump in the middle of the house will affect all the walls, doors and cabinets above.

Whatever you find, do NOT go changing things until you understand the whole picture of what's structurally going on. Like HalS mentioned, leaving it alone is a valid option and might be the best route.
 
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Old 11-17-20, 12:31 PM
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We want to install similar-color laminate flooring, underlay and all, while preserving the history of the place, as it deserves.
I'm a little confused by this statement in your original post?
 
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Old 11-18-20, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by T___O
We want to install similar-color laminate flooring, underlay and all, while preserving the history of the place, as it deserves.
Originally Posted by Marq1
carlift.gif (64×104) (doityourself.com)I'm a little confused by this statement in your original post?
The floor is a soft pine, tongue and groove. (I've got essentially identical boards on the 1st and 2nd floors of the 1828 addition in my farmhouse.) Over the years the grooves become brittle and break off, leading to massive splinters in bare feet, and broken ankles for women in high heels.

The preferred repair is clear epoxy filling in the lost grooves, THEN with another epoxy "wearing coat" over the entire soft wood floor. That gets very expensive very quickly.
So, the other solutions are rugs, fuller strips to reinforce the tongue & groove, OR covering over the soft wood with laminate.
 
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Old 11-18-20, 07:39 AM
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My wife and I love the look and “history” that the current living room flooring
I understand, just commenting that no laminate ever made will retain that "history" of the original floors.

Also be aware, anything going over those floors will probably never meet the manufacturing requirements for flatness so that may not be an option without removal!
 
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Old 11-18-20, 08:14 AM
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One suggestion.
I've shown many old homes, with exposed soft pine floors, in one, the Seller had a shipping business, and laid out a clear commercial vinyl runner down the main hallway to protect it from high heels and foot traffic.

The Buyers made a point of getting 3 more of these runners from the Sellers.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 11-18-20 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 11-19-20, 11:43 AM
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Also be aware, anything going over those floors will probably never meet the manufacturing requirements for flatness so that may not be an option without removal!
Here is what appears to be a better-executed version of the technique I mentioned before —installing these “sleepers” over the floorboards so that the new flooring on top will be level. I’m heavily considering this, at the moment.

https://youtu.be/00R6bZKAvek

I'm a little confused by this statement in your original post?
My apologies. What I meant to express is that we don’t want to rip out all these original, structural pieces of the house unless necessary (and so far we’re seeing no water or termite damage to the flooring or joists). Hal pretty much nailed my main concern; big slivers are already starting to come up here and there, catching socks & pant legs occasionally... hopefully not soles of feet any time soon. Being able to reduce creaks and draftiness along the way are added bonuses.

The lally columns are obviously a much later addition probably to fix a sagging beam/floor. I would now be looking at the perimeter of the house for a reason why everything else has dropped.
Talking to the previous owner, I gathered that the jack posts were put up decades ago to fix some sagging, and that the resulting ridge has been there since its installation. They just let it be; it “added character.” 😆 It looks like any settling that would happen to the foundation has already, at this point. Which is why I’m a little more comfortable with the aforementioned “sleepers”/“ribs” solution.

On top of all this: THANK YOU, everyone who’s taken the time to reply so far. I’m gonna love it here in these forums.



 
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Old 11-19-20, 01:37 PM
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With that many stringers to cut, I think I'd want a very high quality saw. Not that cheap unit he bought. Just caulk it up to the cost of the remodel. And even if you don't need it to often, you have quality tool when you do.
In fact maybe a table saw would be the better solution. And some decent saw horses to work with. Geez, the way he's working looks like an accident waiting happen.
 
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