I have oak floors. Nail heads come up, I push them down, and they come up
I won't even ask why they come up, but just how do I keep them from doing
Pull them and put in larger nails (thicker, longer?)? Some sort of glue?
Its square edged and face nailed.
The house is about 25 years old, and while it is not much by today's
standards, when it was built it was considered to be a premium house. Guess
they cut a few corners.
There's nothing that can be done to make those nails bite if they're
not biting now. Face nailing puts the fastener perpendicular to the
direction of wood movement. Wood floors move - a lot - and the
installation has to be designed to accommodate that movement. Your
installation can't. As the wood expands and contracts with the
changes of season and humidity, the nails essentially sway back and
forth and enlarge the holes in the subfloor, decreasing the holding
power of the nails. The seasonal changes also cause the wood flooring
to expand and contract vertically, so the nail pops the same way a
drywall nail would.
I really am at a loss as to what could be done to fix it short of
pulling all of the nails and using counterbored screws and plugs.
That's a hell of a lot of work and unless there's not a lot of
flooring with the problem or it's really expensive flooring it's
probably not worth the time to try and salvage the bad installation.
Looking on the bright side, you could reclaim the yanked planks for
other woodworking projects.
Actually, face nailing is wrong. It's never a good idea. The only
time it is done is when someone doesn't have T&G flooring available -
either because they got a "deal" on square edged board or don't
understand how a wood floor moves - or because they don't understand
the need for more expensive and slower-to-install screws. The
"wrongness" of face nailing can be somewhat offset by using cut nails
or, better yet, deformed shank nails such as ring shanks and the
like. Cut nails sever the wood fibers and provide better holding
power. And obviously screws are better than nails - as long as you
use the right sort of screws.
The holding power of a nail is based on a bunch of factors - type of
nail, coatings, shank size, type of wood and depth of embedment. For
any given nail and framing situation, the depth of embedment is of
primary importance. A face nail's maximum embedment is the thickness
of the subfloor (joists only occupy ~15% of the floor). A nail that's
driven at a 45 degree angle, like the typical nail in a T&G
installation, has an embedment 1.4 times greater than the thickness of
the subfloor. Which means it will have 40% more holding power. And
that's not even taking into account the difference in force the floor
exerts on an angled nail as opposed to a face nail.
Old-style plank floors are usually laid over diagonal 2x dimension
lumber subfloors. Given that the ones in my grandmother's
house have lasted for 200 years or so, I gotta conclude that
the technique works. I'll admit that it probably won't work
as well over pressboard, but those should have less movement
in the first place. It's also not the look that most people
think of when they hear "oak floors".
Are they just planks not T&G type? I'd replace nails with screws
counter sunk and cover the screw head with wood filler. Or pull the nail
all the way out, dip it in epoxy and renail it down, wipe clean epoxy
residue B4 it sets.
| > I have oak floors. Nail heads come up, I push them down, and they come
| > again.
| > I won't even ask why they come up
Probably expansion and contraction. Do you perhaps
have temperture extremes in the area? No central
heat, or an uninsulated area below the floor?
I've never seen it occur as a major problem, but
sometimes in old houses, nails need to be tapped
Brand new house, repurposed old boards, radiant heat below, nervous about longer
nails....right now I simply have a community hammer and everyone knows what to
do with it and nobody is allowed to go barefoot! Will try a little glue in the
Huh?! brand new house? Building inspector did not mind about the way
loor boards are fastened? Big safety hazard. Hope you don't have small
kids in the house. Only Oak plank floor was in my first house built in
1970. T&G planks nailed with impact hammer one by one, so no nails are
exposed. Even my poor cabin built in 1997 has yellow pine floor with T&G
planks. Looks like they installed the floor like building a fence?, LOL!
If surface nailed flooring (like old pine plank floors) have problems
with nails loosening it is almost always because something is
"giving". Insufficient support in the sub-structure the floors are
fastened to. If nothing moves, nails won't pop.
Radiant heat unsed re-purposed oak board floor is just BEGGING for a
problem. Doesn't matter what you do with those face nails - they WILL
come out. Contersink screws and plug with glued in plugs, sanded
smooth will give you a fighting chance - depending how the radiant
heating is implemented.
For sure. Some of them might not come up, but renailing the ones that
do is not going to help them***. They will probably come up again and
if they've come up twice, then for sure, they'll keep coming up.
What kind of nails are you using?
Why nervous about longer nails? What's wrong with longer nails? Can
you look to see how close to the radiant heat the current nails are.
You may need one person upstairs and the other downstairs.
Are you sure these nails are long enough to reach wood underneath? Or
something underneath? What are they nailed into and are you sure the
Some of the other ideas -- countersunk screws with wood plugs for
example -- are probably better than this, but if you are sure your
nails are reaching wood underneath, and not just a quarter inch in.
More like 3/4", then I might.
***I might pull out every nail that comes out at all and renail it at an
angle, along with another nail very close by at the opposite angle.
Using a nail set to put the heads below the surface of the wood.
By being at opposite angles, when the wood pushes up, it can't go up,
because one nail insists it to goes up and to the right, and the other
insists it goes up and to the left (for example) . If the wood stays
down, it's not able to push the nails up. If one can come up on its
own anyhow, I think is much less likely.
And don't use smooth nails. use nails with ridges that keep them from
coming back up, or spiral nails (I forget what they are called, but
they're like square nails that were twisted.) Depending on how tightly
they fit into the holes that are already there, and depending on what
the wood is like now -- maybe it's so old that it doesn't grip well,
even spiral nails or nails with ridges == they may not come up like your
current nails do. Put in two for each nail there now, at opposing
They make these nails in large size, for decks, and in small size for
fence pickets. You can probably get them in medium too. Try
construction supply, and if not that online. Talk to others in the
trade about how likely these two nails and/or opposing angles are to
It's not just about not walking barefoot. Someone's going to trip on
something and his or her face will land on a nail head, her cheek, lips,
Or a kid will be playing and roll over or fall and hit the nail head,
with her face, maybe her eye?
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