Red Oak T&G Flooring Repair Question.

I'm doing a flooring job at my parents' house over time. Stains went away with oxalic acid and bleach and I've replaced most of the offending strips. The material isn't cheap and it all needs modification of the tongue for a fit and a clearance cut to permit insertion in surrounded spaces. After some practice, the job is going well.
There are a few places where good strips have old, existing end gaps of approximately 3/64" and an obscure place where about the same gap exists for some distance between otherwise solid old strips. I'm nailing and puttying those nail holes with a stainable medium. Each piece will also have at least two countersunk wood screws going into the 1"x6" subfloor, covered by a face-grain red oak plug. That should make everything secure.
Would there be any predictable stability problem for patching material in the specified 3/64" gaps? Would a named stainable medium be the best choice?
As the material is only economically available in bulk purchase, I'm trying to economize what is already on hand in anticipation of bonafide problems in the room upcoming.
Any insights on the process and thoughts on this particular problem are welcome.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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I would cut red oak to insert into those gaps. That size piece shouldn't be so obvious or out of place, especially if you're going to stain it. It would be less likely to pop out, crumble, etc. as a filler may.
If you go the filler route, I would suggest staining first, then get a filler whose color matches. You may get a better match, rather than trying to stain a filler. Even though the filler is stainable, it may not stain the same as the adjacent wood will.
Sonny
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An alternative to cutting is to use red oak edgebanding that doesn't have adhesive on it.
There's also the question of climate and when and where those 3/64" gaps appear. Wood strip floors are made up of relatively narrow strips to allow for the seasonal movement of the wood. The gaps are necessary and unavoidable on an expanse of floor unless you have complete control of the temperature and humidity throughout the year. If you fill the gaps while the wood is bone dry the wood won't simply decide to not swell up as the more humid weather rolls around. It will still expand and the filler will crumble and/or the wood will crush as the wood expands. When it shrinks back down the gap will be pretty much back to where it started and/or you will have little bits of filler being sucked up by the vacuum.
R
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On 5/5/2011 8:43 AM, RicodJour wrote:

That is exactly the case. Rico is right, and, if you fill all those gaps and the floorboards do expand, they can buckle and lift. If you do fill, a filler that will crumble and fall out is your best protection against damaging your floor.
--
Robert Allison
New Braunfels, TX
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wrote:

RA:
Good. Six eyes say the same thing. Make that eight, counting here.
A thought came in on your race track project. It may have value or not. If you decide to use rollers as triggers to register carts passing, photocopiers use a lot of fairly substantial steel versions that go in size up to width of the processed paper. They get scrapped all the time by repair men in a condition that might be perfect for your application. And they might get scrapped to you for the asking.
Thanks for the help.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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You're not likely to have as severe expansion/contraction issues, if any, as the gaps are on the ends of the boards. Boards expand and contract across the face of boards, not so much along the length of boards. 3/16" isn't much at all.
Another alternative is to dye some jute rope/twine and pack it into the gaps. Jute rope/twine is stainable, accepts a finish, compressable..... and it will prevent dirt from getting into the gap, as opposed to if the gaps were left open. If the rope/twine eases out, later, just press it back in. If this approach would fail beyond your preference, you could always resort to filling the gaps with wood or filler, later, ie. nothing lost in trying the rope. Having to refinishing these spots, later, if need be, would amount to a touch-up job, and not compromise your present refinishing (of the whole), now.
Sonny
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I've read about the rope infill, but I've never done it or even seen it up close. How well does it blend in to the floor? Does it end up being a 'feature' strip thing, where you really would notice if every gap didn't have the rope infill, or can you just use it here and there?
R
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I've packed several floor spacings. There is a "line", but it is not out-of-place looking. Jute is vegetive, so it's basically similar to wood, as for as staining. It absorbs more finish, so it's good to build/layer the packing as close to the floor surface as possible. Prior to staining or installing, for the fibers that stick out from the rope/twine, burn them off. For long runs, tack it down with brads or finishing nails, counter sunk. Nailing also helps flatten the top of the cord, if somewhat large in diameter.
My brother's exgirlfriend has a wide plank floor and someone put some kind of mortar between the planks... half inch gaps in many places. Looked like crap and it was chipping out. I recommended she have jute rope installed. I'll have to call Cyndi and ask if she ever did have the mortar replaced. I'll go take a pic, if so.
My brother has some exterior columns, mated to/adjacent to the exterior wall framing and stucco exterior surface, that we packed this way, but the final packing was backer rods, as they are more weather resistant. I'll do an inspection next time I go, maybe have some pics available.
In the meantime, I can possibly find some spots in my shop, that needs chinking, and do a demo, w/pics. Some of the flooring is 2" wide oak.
An oldtimer once told me that mixing linseed oil and sawdust makes for good filler, especially for floors that are really distressed and has many open spaces/cracks. That sounds reasonable, maybe, but I would be leery of the spontaneous combustion of linseed oil in that kind of application.... depends on the bulk (in one spot) needing to be applied (?). I've never tried this technique.
Sonny
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I've packed several floor spacings. There is a "line", but it is not out-of-place looking. Jute is vegetive, so it's basically similar to wood, as for as staining. It absorbs more finish, so it's good to build/layer the packing as close to the floor surface as possible. Prior to staining or installing, for the fibers that stick out from the rope/twine, burn them off. For long runs, tack it down with brads or finishing nails, counter sunk. Nailing also helps flatten the top of the cord, if somewhat large in diameter.
My brother's exgirlfriend has a wide plank floor and someone put some kind of mortar between the planks... half inch gaps in many places. Looked like crap and it was chipping out. I recommended she have jute rope installed. I'll have to call Cyndi and ask if she ever did have the mortar replaced. I'll go take a pic, if so.
My brother has some exterior columns, mated to/adjacent to the exterior wall framing and stucco exterior surface, that we packed this way, but the final packing was backer rods, as they are more weather resistant. I'll do an inspection next time I go, maybe have some pics available.
In the meantime, I can possibly find some spots in my shop, that needs chinking, and do a demo, w/pics. Some of the flooring is 2" wide oak.
An oldtimer once told me that mixing linseed oil and sawdust makes for good filler, especially for floors that are really distressed and has many open spaces/cracks. That sounds reasonable, maybe, but I would be leery of the spontaneous combustion of linseed oil in that kind of application.... depends on the bulk (in one spot) needing to be applied (?). I've never tried this technique.
S:
Before I scurry around the world, do you have any idea what kind of metropolitan store would have jute? Is it sold under any brand names that I might walk by unknowing?
BTW, when I see your name that great song that borrowed it runs between the ears a bit.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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wrote:

Hi
In the UK we use an elastic floorboard filler off a reel which has a round profile and expands and contracts with the floor. It is 'shadow coloured' and cannot be seen once fitted. It comes on 40m rolls together with an applicator. No glue required. Nice side effect: The floorboards look untampered and very natural.
Harry
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Jute is the same as burlap, the old style hay baling twine, old style (brown) rope, i.e., not synthetic. It's still common at the box stores, hardware stores, farmer's co-ops, etc. Chair caning supply outlets have it and similar reed/vegetive cording, as well.... seagrass, sisal, cotton, raffia. Any of these will work for small spaces/gaps. Jute cording/twine/rope is the cheapest and most readily available.
Sonny
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Edward Hennessey wrote:

1. Go to Home Depot or Lowes 2. Go outside to where the lumber pickup area is 3. Find the ball of beige/light brown twine that customers use to tie down stuff 4. Cut off what you need
If the twine is very light -almost white - , ignore it, it is sisal, and go inside to buy the jute unless you like the sisal color; I'd think it would work for packing too.
--

dadiOH
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I wish they'd go back to the jute. Around here the home centers haven't had anything but poly twine in years. Too much plastic - it doesn't get recycled and it won't biodegrade.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

Yeah, I hate that too. Unfortunately, we live in the Age of Plastic.
A while back I wanted a spool of marline (tarred hemp) so I hied myself off to the marine store. All they had was some sort of twine - might have been plastic, might have been cotton, don't recall - smeared with beeswax; had to go online to get real marline.
--

dadiOH
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snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com says...

As far as tying things down goes, I got a package of four ratchet tie downs a while back that also double as strap clamps, and work better than anything that I can do with twine.
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So if you want to tie the ends of a bundle of 16' trim pieces together you use a ratchet strap? Ratchet straps have their place and so does twine.
R
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wrote:

An alternative to cutting is to use red oak edgebanding that doesn't have adhesive on it.
There's also the question of climate and when and where those 3/64" gaps appear. Wood strip floors are made up of relatively narrow strips to allow for the seasonal movement of the wood. The gaps are necessary and unavoidable on an expanse of floor unless you have complete control of the temperature and humidity throughout the year. If you fill the gaps while the wood is bone dry the wood won't simply decide to not swell up as the more humid weather rolls around. It will still expand and the filler will crumble and/or the wood will crush as the wood expands. When it shrinks back down the gap will be pretty much back to where it started and/or you will have little bits of filler being sucked up by the vacuum.
R
R:
For a little background, the original installation is 70 years old and the t&g was installed directly over the floorboards without any vapor barrier (e.g. tar paper) in between. Further, the stucco house is on a raised foundation enclosing a ventilated, soil crawlspace. The climate in Southern California doesn't suffer from extreme seasonal variation, though it is not unfriendly to termites; most of the structural damage encountered goes to their credit.
In all, the initial installation shows good craftsmanship, not Sistine perfection.The noted end gaps may be a measured departure from that or reflect individual piece shrinkage which allowed the infiltration of grit that additionally abraded and enlarged the gap.
If reality proves that some of the few remaining problem strips display a curvature which makes for spaces on both sides, I'll bite the billfold and replace. Should an open space be uniform and to one side only in an obscure spot, I'll do trials on piece inserts...or, again, put a new piece in.
As an aside, I've done the countersunk screw placements and plug coverage before as part of a solution to address floor squeaks in the past. It is charmed when combined with blocking from below. You also get a decorative effect, if you are willing to add other plugs (with or without screws as appropriate) for arty balance. Using a drill guide stand to assure perpendicularity works and once you get the hang of the operation it picks up speed.
Thanks for the help.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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Sonny:
Thanks, as usual, for the help. You, Rico and Robert will have the saw making wood.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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