Flooring question - how thin

So - my son just called with an idea for floors in a house they just bought. They've yanked out most of the carpet, and are getting ready to put down some sort of wood floors. Nothing is decided yet. There is a long story behind this all, but the short version is that the subfloors are rock solid (floor joists, sub floor, etc.), dead flat, etc., etc., etc.
They went to a local mill and got prices, which really are not bad. My son came up with the idea of asking the mill to simply run the lumber through the band saw again, taking it from 1x8 to 1/2x8. His thought is that he can end up with more lumber for less money, and enough savings to buy a planer to touch them up with - or a double belt sander.
He does not want a fully planed finish on the boards. He wants something more rustic since the house is an old home and he wants to maintain some of the old character, so whatever he takes down on the surface of the boards is going to be fairly minimal. His plan is to lay down something like Liquid Nails, and face nail with cut nails.
So with that background - though it may defy conventional wisdom, what are various thoughts on laying down a floor that really only measures 3/8 - 1/2 inch? Heck - today's laminates don't measure that much real wood. I can't see any problems with the idea, but then again...
--

-Mike-
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wrote:

Good luck with the mill and installation. Most "real" hardwood flooring is 3/4" thick. I laid close to 1,000 sf of it about 3 years ago when we built our home. There are some engineered hardwood alternatives that are thinner but they have their own properties and installation techniques that have nothing to do with what your son is considering.
When you arbitrarily think of slicing hardwood flooring thinner you get into: - Most hardwood flooring is 3/4" thick. This flooring sliced in half will end up less than 3/8 inch thick. - It will be flexible to a point of being flimsy and squeaky. - I would think most mills are not set up to cut the tongue and groove edges of wood that is barely 1/4 - 3/8" thick. - How does he plan to nail through the tongue of a product that will be so tiny it will split out.
Come on now. I suspect the miller will get a chuckle.
RonB
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On 5/29/2012 6:57 PM, Mike Marlow wrote: ...

Agree w/ the other poster on the problem if face nail and w/ adhesive mounting--if don't care about those issues it's workable as far as a dimension but would seem self-limiting and essentially self-defeating in the long run for the up front potential savings.
But, I'd guess the mill won't resaw 3/4" stuff even if asked; a sawmill bandsaw is going to take a pretty good kerf compared to a resaw in a typical woodworker shop and I doubt seriously if they have any good way to feed the material already sawn--they slice it off a log at probably 4/4 and then surface to 3/4.
If you want to try to save a little on material by going thinner, if it is a relatively small mill used to custom work your better chance will be to ask them to saw some to finished 5/8 or 1/2 from the git-go but don't expect to save half; they're going to charge on the bd-ft basis of the raw stock it took to get the finish and you'll probably only save a quarter or a little over.
All in all, I'd bite the bullet and go conventional I think...there's a reason it's been that way lo! these many years.
--



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Yup... a resaw bandsaw would be the only way to deal with this on a production level... While I'm sure it could be done on a bandsaw mill (e.g., place the board on top of and clinch to a mounted log that has had slices removed already) it would be a chore. Doing it by hand on a vertical bandsaw would be a chore too.

Yup again... course back in the way old days the finish floor was often the sub-floor too in many structures so the thickness was needed. Note, that the boards didn't have to be uniform in thickness as they were often fit to match the other boards, and variance in the joists, by removing material from the bottom of the floor boards. In the more recent old days, where a finish floor was installed over a sub-floor, the thickness was there with sanding and refinishing in mind. The new laminates are a different animal...
John
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On 5/29/2012 9:18 PM, Mike Marlow wrote:

...
What I was driving at expounded so it hit home... :)
...

Well, to support you, not much.
The issues come more into the longterm--if it's just get a few years out of something cheap as possible, sure; go for it. But if it is really a home and intended to be there for the duration or a sizable fraction thereof, even hardwood floors eventually need refinishing and the face nailing pretty much eliminates that from ever being doable other than perhaps you could manage to use a coarse enough paper to grind them down flush, too, altho I'd guess it would be a chore. You wouldn't have much left to try to reset them below grade and have any material left for them to have purchase on to attack it that way.
The laminates are thin because the wear surface is _very_very_ hard and expected to hold on w/o refinishing. The point in wood is for it to actually look like wood not fake wood printed on plastic.
But, it'll have to be his call; I just doubt he'll save enough to make up for the drawbacks.
--
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On Tue, 29 May 2012 19:57:28 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

So he will never have to remove it for a repair?
I can see the "save a buck now" being costly down the road.
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Solid wood is a different animal from engineered flooring... Face nailing precludes ever sanding it so the refinishing issue is negated... Square edge would seem to be the only option with solid stock that thin but glued and face nailed into the joists it would probably stay in place OK. You don't mention how wide the boards are to be but regardless use no more than two nails across when nailing and make sure the cut nails are oriented correctly to avoid splitting.
That all said, would I do it? Probably not... no opportunity to refinish/sand due to the face nailing and gluing the flooring to the sub-floor would make it nearly impossible to remove. I'd be inclined to go thicker, nail only, and lay it over something like rosin paper as was the practice in years past. Of course if your son doesn't plan to be in the house for very long non of that matters either!
John
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Lots of good commments to your original question, but as a reality check on the 'rustic' - have splinters in the feet been considered? I have carpet and the family (and many guests) leave shoes at the front door. Maybe it's the definition of rustic....

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Mike Marlow wrote:

I'm thinking he would be much better off using unsplit lumber. Elsewhere, you said he was planing on 8" wide boards. If they are split, there isn't much meat under the nail head to keep them down and in place when they cup. And they they WILL cup.
You didn't mention what kind of wood he was considering. Used to be a lot of softwood floors and those wear pretty fast. When they do, nails are left proud. Less a potential for that with hardwood or even SYP.
Then there are the cracks. He would be hard put to lay 8" boards and get the board edges chock-a-block. The cracks will fill up with crud.
My wife wound up with a rustic log house last year. The second floor has 1 1/2 T&G SYP floors. Planks are about 8" wide, maybe a bit less. There are cracks up to 1/2" wide between boards; most are 1/8" or so. Even though they are T&G, the boards were faced nailed and the heads set down a bit. All the nail holes are torn, look like hell. So do the cracks. Top was made rustic via whatever the coarsest grit is for a drum floor sander. The dings left by it add to the "rustic" flavor. The whole thing looks like hell.
Depends on what one wants I guess but if it were me I'd split the width of the boards but not the thickness. I'd have T&G milled into at least the edges and the bottoms relieved..
--

dadiOH
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Despite anyone's experience laying hardwood floor, laying thin boards is a recipe for trouble, IMO.
You didn't say if the milled boards will be kiln dried. If they are not, then the thin boards will be subject to even greater issues with expansion and contraction or checking, than with thicker boards. If they are not kiln dried, a resaw will release more tension, within the boards, likely causing more distortion. Further dressing (planing) would likely result in additional distortion. If they will be kiln dried, then some of these issues may not be so pronounced.
My rationale: For non-kilned lumber, if ripping a 1" board on the tablesaw can release tension or show a moisture issue, by bowing as you saw, then resawing and planing an 8" wide non-kilned board will likely show similar and/or more distortion effects. There may end up being more waste lumber, than with using thicker lumber.
Sonny
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On Tue, 29 May 2012 19:57:28 -0400, "Mike Marlow"
(snipped)

The lumber supplier I deal with sells "thin stock". Due to the labor cost to mill the thin boards, along with the loss due to relieving the stress in the thicker stock the thin stock is much more expensive (the thinner the high the cost per bd/ft). An example, the current price on 4/4 red oak is $3.30 bd/ft. 2/4 red oak is $6.50 bd/ft. I think he would end up spending more.
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Jack Novak
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wrote:

Makes me wonder if they are just running the 4/4 through the thickness planer to get it down to 2/4...
John
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On 5/31/2012 10:06 AM, John Grossbohlin wrote:

That would be the typical for small quantities...for large bundles they may actually saw to 3/4 rough but a retailer probably just recoups the cost of the rough stock and does just what you say...
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Expect lot of splitting to the point the whole floor will likely be replaced in a few years. Rusty nails may show through with staining too.
------------- "Mike Marlow" wrote in message
So - my son just called with an idea for floors in a house they just bought. They've yanked out most of the carpet, and are getting ready to put down some sort of wood floors. Nothing is decided yet. There is a long story behind this all, but the short version is that the subfloors are rock solid (floor joists, sub floor, etc.), dead flat, etc., etc., etc.
They went to a local mill and got prices, which really are not bad. My son came up with the idea of asking the mill to simply run the lumber through the band saw again, taking it from 1x8 to 1/2x8. His thought is that he can end up with more lumber for less money, and enough savings to buy a planer to touch them up with - or a double belt sander.
He does not want a fully planed finish on the boards. He wants something more rustic since the house is an old home and he wants to maintain some of the old character, so whatever he takes down on the surface of the boards is going to be fairly minimal. His plan is to lay down something like Liquid Nails, and face nail with cut nails.
So with that background - though it may defy conventional wisdom, what are various thoughts on laying down a floor that really only measures 3/8 - 1/2 inch? Heck - today's laminates don't measure that much real wood. I can't see any problems with the idea, but then again...
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@windstream.net
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