We removed a hideous old carpet from a multi-purpose room that wants
to be a dining room. From the peeks we took around the edges of the
carpet, we expected to find a 3" pine strip floor with lots of paint
overspray, drywall mud, plaster, and ground in dirt. I was planning
on sanding and refinishing this, but now that the carpet's gone, we
can see that about 2/3rds of the boards had shrunk so much that there
were gaps as large as 1/8" between many of them. So I come to two
1) is there any way to fix this in place?
2) since I suspect the answer is "no": would it be worth being careful
while removing these boards? They've got all of the above described
abuse and then some showing on them, but not one of them has water
damage or is broken. Is it possible to sell them for salvage? If
not, is it worth maybe putting them through a planer and then re-
cutting the tongue & groove on a router table? (possibly for use as
patches when the carpet in the next room comes out in a year or two?)
I currently plan on taking the boards out to put in a subfloor to
bring the height up to nearby rooms that have newer floors anyway.
I'm also hedging my bets and keeping an eye out at flooring stores
like Lumber Liquidators for inexpensive flooring. I'm sort of curious
about cork floor, it seems like it would be too soft, but the samples
I saw this weekend were actually pretty tough. Any ideas there?
1. Pine is so relatively soft it is an inferior wood
for flooring. Of course yours may have hardened
over 80 years.
2. It seems surprising that yours is tongue-and-groove.
If so, and if you can remove all fastenings with reparable
damage, you may be able to loosen all and tighten them
up, adding one board cut to fit the cumulated gap. You
could then sand, stain and seal the floor.
3. Only local recyclers can tell you whether your
floorboards have any resale value.
Thanks for the reply and ideas Don. I'm not really sure that it's
pine, or fir, or what, it's softer than a hardwood, but harder than
new pine so you're probably right in that it's age is responsible for
its relative hardness. Hard to tell what color it is, since it's been
varnished at some point in it's past and with all the dirt and paint
overspray from various renovations... hard to say. If it's anything
like the framing of the house, it's fairly dense (experienced while
trying to drive nails into an old wall stud).
I'm pretty sure it's T&G, some of the boards are loose, the fasteners
must be in the tongue since they're not exposed. Removing nails would
pretty much mean taking each board out anyway.
Thanks again, I guess I still need to weigh options - at least I have
time to think on it, it's one problem in this house that ISN'T an
I'm guessing from the description there's a good chance it's yellow
pine, not white -- that would account for the hardness and depending
on where the house is located, perhaps more likely as well. I don't
doubt it is t&g at all, either. To evaluate, I'd just sand a section
for inspection and decide after that whether it's got adequate grain/
character to satisfy what you're looking for.
As for salvage value, if it were close, I'd take it in a heartbeat.
But, as another noted, it's not likely you would get much actual cash
value, however, for 3" material. But, being a sucker for older stuff
and retaining character and originality as much as possible, I'd
seriously look at the alternative of salvaging it and relaying it. If
it needs an additional layer of underflooring to match other heights,
that's the perfect opportunity to fix any low/high spots, etc., as
well. The only real hangup in doing that is dependent on whether it
is white or yellow pine and how it is fastened down (and what the
floor joists are). Yellow pine is much harder than white which is
good in that respect, but it also is more susceptible to splitting.
If the whole house was built w/ yellow pine, the joists are also hard
as can be by this time and pulling a cut nail w/o damage may be a real
feat. If it is white pine, otoh, nailheads will undoubtedly simply
pull through the tongue at least moderately easily.
If it's standard thickness flooring (and at that age it could easily
be) planing it will probably be more than you really want to take off
since will still need to finish it.
Near as I can measure, the thickness is somewhere near 3/4" - just
measuring at a gap near one wall, so it's not very accurate. The
joists almost certainly are the same material as the wall studs, which
probably are yellow pine - I'm not an expert at determining wood
species. I just went to Lumber Liquidators on my lunch break and saw
that they have prefinished cork tiles on sale for 99cents/sq ft. I
like the idea of cork with two kids (one toddler and one crawling)
using this room as a play-room. I have exactly zero experience with
cork though, so I'm not sure about durability. The manufacturer has a
25 year warranty on the tiles, but I don't know if that really means
anything. I'm leaning heavily towards putting some screws into the
existing floor where it's loose, scraping off any loose stuff on the
top, then gluing and stapling a layer of luan over it. Then, when I
can get the cork (backordered until April), glue that on top. That
will bring the finished floor height pretty close (within 1/16" or so)
to the surrounding rooms. I've heard that it's pretty resilient, has
good insulating and accoustical properties, and actually resists
moisture pretty well (so maybe dreams of a future use as a dining room
aren't too far out there). I'd love to try and breathe some new life
into this existing floor, but I'm looking at this and thinking "When
am I going to find the TIME to do it, much less the money?". OR, I
could tear it out as carefully as possible, put in 3/4" plywood, then
luan, then cork and still try to salvage it - though it'll cost about
$100 more for the new plywood and take lots more time to remove the
old floor... decisions, decisions.
I've given up on the refinish in place option. The gaps wouldn't be
bad if they were consistent, but some boards have them and others
don't so it just looks bad. Maybe I'll try to remove a small board
somewhere near a corner and see how much effort it would be to clean
it up. Even if it works, I'll have to figure out the grain/species
and buy something like 5-10 sq ft to repair a couple of small holes
Why not just use this as the subfloor, and put modern hardwood or pine
planks at right angles above it? Unless these are real old 'old growth'
planks that would clean up pretty (and 3 inch doesn't sound real old), I'd
be real suprised if there was any great salvage value. (Yeah, I see those
recycled 1880s pine floors on the TV shows, too. Most of those are 10-12
inch wide boards, from trees we will never see the like of again.)
aem - Thanks for the reply, not sure if the planks will clean up
nicely or not, there's very little actual grain showing through the
dirt and paint and mess on top. There are a couple of reasons I'd
like to start with a new subfloor here: some of these boards are
loose, so I don't want to just cover them up, though I suppose I could
just run some screws into them. The board direction is currently
running the "right" way to match adjacent rooms, so I'd like to try
and keep them running that way. Finally, this floor is dirty and
smells like old pets, so if I were to keep it, it definitely would
need cleaning up even if it's only used as a subfloor. Anyhow, as I
mentioned in my other replies, I'm still thinking and weighing
options. so thanks for the ideas, keep em comin!
If you are daring enough to experiment, try cleaning an out-of-the-way
spot with fine steel wool and mineral spirits. Might get through enough
gunk, and get rid of enough paint splatters, to get a good look at the
wood. MS is wet enough, but will dry, and let the grain show a bit
more. For noisy boards, renailing on a slant might be a good fix; This
Old House has some good articles on it. Sanding, refinishing, and
putting in a dark caulk to fill the gaps might give you a pretty,
old-fashioned looking floor. With other wood floors in the house, it
would keep a consistent look and still not bust the budget.
Depending on who you ask, nothing needs "fixing" as it was common in old
houses with pine boards to have a gap. It was filled with a rop type
material that was flexible and allows for expansion and contraction.
They've got all of the above described
I do know htat some very old pine has some value, but I'm not up on such
things to give a difinitive answer. Unless there is some valid historic
reason to leave them. I tis worth a try to see if they are in saleable
This is exactly how my floors are made. Before I moved in, someone
else refinished them. They really look beautiful. There are a few
areas where their imperfect history can be seen, but in a 110-year-old
house, that's expected.
In the bathroom, there is a newer oak floor, presumably laid over the
top of the original pine. It's pretty, but not nearly as lovely as
the glowing aged pine in the other rooms.
As far as salvaging the wood if you decide to tear up your floors, I
think there is a strong argument to be made for recycling whether or
not you can make money on them.
Depends on what you mean by "fix". It sound to me like
what you've got is a fairly old pine floor that's
designed to be painted and then covered with a floor
covering (Canvas, linoleum, vinyl, or a woven carpet).
You're not going to be able to make it look like
a modern oak floor. If you adjust your sensibilities
a bit, it's fine the way it is. If that doesn't
match what you envision the dining room being, I recommend
covering it again, with a less-hideous covering.
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