Monday, May 16, 2011

Knox Hill Project Weekly Update: Flooing layout and install begins.

This is the mockup of our border design which is 10 3/4 wide and based on a historic design.
The Flooring Project began in earnest this weekend as we finished install of the sub-floor. This "grand experiment" is to see if we can authentically replicate the square edge 'strip' flooring that was popular and desirable at the time. Our pine floors had many issues and were simply too far gone to present the kind of formal appearance we need

Lots of measuring and some preliminary layouts held determine the border size and general direction the floor will be installed
Of course the secret to a good floor is a level one. Fortunately our floors are generally level and only required minor leveling in a couple of areas. The room was shot with a laser level in several directions and of course the good old 2 and 6 ft hand level was employed as well .For those of you young preservationists perhaps thinking about going into restoration as a career some day, math is important! Creating and installing a floor like this requires a series of complex calculations . Exact center must be determined for the room, Minor Adjustments must also be made to allow for the room being slightly out of square ( ours is off 3/8 of an inch). You also must calculate who much material you will need (based on square foot and in the layout you also need to factor a slight "play' adjustment and allow for 1/4 inch all around the edge of the room.. Once all thee calculations were made a series of pencil lines are laid down that define where the borders will be. Key intersects like the center of the room and 'field markers' which are lines that will help you maintain a straight line as your field moves across the room. The 'critical alignment' is with the fireplace mantle and the faux painted slate style hearth. This will be the one place in the room where you eye will be drawn and everything looking just right is important here and we elected to work off this point. As luck turns out there will be no need for any 'thin strip' at the end of the field. The border works out to 10 3/4 and there will be a 1/2 inch of space at the edge which will of course be covered by the quarter round that will be  at the bottom of the baseboard.

Miters are important on corners like around the fireplace hearth. Every nail will need to be countersunk and filled prior to sanding.
This is what is known as a 'face nailed" floor. The strips are attached by nailing them with a fine 'finish nail' that has some ''ribbing' which assists  it in adhering to the floor. The pieces must be snug but not overly tight as you do not want your floor to 'heave' with any heat cold expansion/contraction. Nails are placed every six inches in pairs. ALL the nails will have to be carefully set so they are slightly below the flooring surface and they will all be filled prior to a  light sanding of the floor. The wood I am using is pretty smooth to start with so a palm sander will be used to remove any high points. My goal with this floor is to create an authentic looking floor rather than a "new floor". There is nothing worse than going into an old house and seeing Pergo or bamboo floors with a modern gloss finish.

The border is being pre-assembled in sections. You can see a mockup of the border in the photo at the top of the blog. Note the 1/4 inch 'line' added between the first two pieces to add interest. I found this material at the local home improvement store already milled to a perfect match with the flooring depth. The parquet  inlay are composed of 3 inch pieces. A combination of different stains will be used to give all of this visual interest. The Border sections will be laid out on a 'sticky material' so they can be transported easily. This pre-assembly makes install easier. A special note, all the small pieces shoudl be predilled to prevent splitting of the wood. I  made a special jig to hold several of these at one so they can be srilled with my drill press set up with a drill bit just slightly smaller than the nail.

AM I CRAZY? Absolutely not. This is a very labor intensive process but given that just one room of pre-made flooring and border would cost me several thousand dollars my material cost is roughly 38 cents a square foot! In this case well worth the effort. Also this is a very 'green' project as the wood used is made from sections of good wood to small to mill into conventional size boards. Much more to come as this project moves along.

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