How to fill gaps in a wood floor?

Hi,
We own a cabin with a pine or fir floor (I'm not sure what it is and how to determine it either) - probably around 700 sq feet. Over the last months I renovated the place and now it's time to redo the floors. We like the look of the floor and so like to keep it. I will use the Varathene Diamond Water based floor finish to put a (actually four) coat on it.
What concerns me about the whole thing is that the boards have shrunk over the years and now there is a gap of around an 1/16" to at some areas 1/4" between almost all the boards. The size of the gap is irrigular.
_________________/_ __________________\\    gap / /    board \\ __________________\\ __________________/     gap \\ \\ \\    board / ___________________/ \\
I would like to fill the gaps to have a smooth continues floor. But because of the irregular gaps I can't put small wood pieces in the gaps and I don't like the idea of taping every board and fill the gaps with food filler? That would probably keep me busy for months......
Is there any idea out there, how to deal with this?
Ludger
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Ludger Wolf wrote:

diff. widths of rope. stain them to try and match the color of the floor and wedge the rope in the gaps. I have seen this done and it looks fine. I have seen the filler method used and it looked terrible and almost always cracks due to the natural expansion / contraction of the wood floor.
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snipped-for-privacy@nf.sympatico.ca wrote:

That's a great idea. Rope caulking like that used on boats.
As noted the boards will expand and contract accross their width with changes in humidity so a rigid gap filler will not work.
Normally floor boards are tongue and groove or (maybe)shiplapped so that as they expand and contract the gap does not go all the way through.
--

FF



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On 16 Sep 2005 11:20:48 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

The floor board in our cabin have tongoue and goove too, but still the gaps are there and tend to collect dirt. I might try the idea with the rope. Any idea about what kind of material for the ropes? I probably need to finish the floors before wedging in the ropes, because otherwise the floor finish want really work with the flexible ropes?
Thanks for that idea
Ludger
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Ludger Wolf wrote:

Oakum is the stuff used for sealing wooden hulls, and I think it was also used in plumbing. Its not really rope, just something like hemp soaked in creosote.
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Ludger Wolf wrote:

I kinda have my doubts about the rope thing.
On boats, the caulking material is cotton. Or oakum (tarred hemp for really wide (1/4"+) seams.
Caulking cotton comes in a long, loosely consolidated "rope" maybe an inch in diameter. One inserts it into the seam with a caulking iron...sort of a chisel like tool with a curved base 2-3" wide. The edge of the curve comes in varying widths dependant on the width of the seam. One taps in some cotton leaving a 5-6" loop out, taps in some more leaving another loop, etc. Then you go back and tap in 1/2 of each loop...repeat until all is in. One then "makes" the seam with heavier blows. How heavy is determined by the sound. How much cotton goes into the seam is determined by experience. The seams aren't filled.
The reasons I doubt the efficacy of this (or rope) for your problem are three fold...
1. Boat seams have a very narrow "V" shape. The shape allows the cotton to compact and stay in place. When the planks swell, the made cotton is literally pressed into the edges. Your "seams" would have no "V"
2. After caulking, the seams are "stopped"...the area above the cotton is filled with a plastic material (plastic as in flexible) such as putty.
3. Since you wouldn't want to be stopping your seams, I just can't see any way you are going to get a round rope in the cracks and have it level with the floor.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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dadiOH wrote:

Well my pal stole the idea (or followed the advice) from a new yank episode and tried it himself. The proof is in the pudding and it worked very well in his summer / winter home with extreem fluctuations in both temerature and humidity and this was 3 years ago. We had our doubts too but it wroked well and looks good. I think this is a very old method, perhaps borrowed from the ship building trade. Wood filler just won't hold up. I had heard about glue and saw dust from the sanded floor but this wont do the trick if it needs to be stained.

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Ludger Wolf wrote:

You could use a saw (or router) to rip along the joints to get a uniform width then glue in splines. No idea how that would work on your floor (expansion/contraction) but it worked fine on a roughly 4' x 4' sail boat transom. Be lots of work though.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
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wrote:

I have thought about the idea with the router too, but just didn't look forward to all the work involved with that, even that this might be the way which will have the best avaiable results.
Thanks
Ludger
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Aren't you planning to sand the old finish off. After sanding most of it off, you can fill the joints like you were grouting tile (i.e. no tape and somewhat sloppy) then sand off the excess from the surface in your final pass. Might even be able to use the sanding dust (mixed w/ wood glue) to make the filler for a perfect match. 1/4" is still a wide gap to fill and may be cosmetically unpleasing. Maybe leaving the gaps in place will give you that old world antique look and be less noticable after refinishing.
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wrote:

The old finish is ok, just a bit dull, so I just thought about cleaning it with TSP and refinish. But I realize that I might need to do more to eliminate the gaps. Do you have hany idea what kind of fill would work with the wood and all the contraction / extraction?
Ludger
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Ludger Wolf wrote:

Well, the same as your floor wood be nice :)
If you *do* try this, cut the splines a smidge wider than the seams (cracks/joints/whatever you want to call them) and taper them slightly. The taper will help compensate for variation in seam width. You want them slightly proud of the floor after you glue and hammer them in so you can zip off the excess with a plane.
-- dadiOH ____________________________
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