Our NEW Video on installed floors!
NOTES ON FINISHES AND FLOORS IN GENERAL
DISCLAIMER: THE AUTHOR IS NOT A FLOOR INSTALLER!
I MAKE FLOORS AND AM AROUND THE PROCESS A LOT BUT YOUR BEST INSURANCE IN ALL PHASES OF THE PROCESS IS A LICENSED AND BONDED PROFESSIONAL FLOOR CONTRACTOR/INSTALLER.
I ONLY SHARE WHAT I THINK I KNOW!
I will cover finishes first as this is primarily about finishes, not installation:
If you need installation help there are lots of books available on Amazon.com or any good finish carpentry manual should have a section on flooring. Home Depot has Flooring 1-2-3, don’t buy a floor while you’re there! woodweb.com is good; go to ‘knowledge base’, flooring. Lots of pictures!
Urethane: invented in the 30’s it has been around in various forms and what you need to know is that oil based urethanes are cheaper and tend to turn amber in color. Also, not as hard as: Water based urethanes. Cross linking water based urethanes are really good. Utilizing a hardner which acts like a ‘kicker’ to accelerate and harden the surface, these work really well Many brands are available, some very expensive and frankly I have ‘gone off’ of most of these companies as they have been very unresponsive and uncommunicative towards my queries. I work with folks I like in case you haven’t noticed!
Stain Pre-conditioner: use this if any stain is to be applied as a stand-alone, to avoid streaking. Minwax makes one that is good and commonly available. Stain can be mixed in with the Tung oil in most cases.
Douglas Fir is very photo-reactive which means it will 'tan' or darken with exposure to light. Over years it will tone towards the classic Doug Fir umber color. Don't over darken it initially as it might wind up too dark in time.
Read the directions no matter what product you use. If your installer has not read them, make sure they do and make them prove it to you.
Follow ALL the instructions to the letter. Ditto Tung Oil (pretty easy) and whatever product you wind up using.
The best way to get a good floor is a patient, knowledgeable and involved installer/finisher. This is the guy you will go to for actual 'fixes' if you have any problems. If you do it yourself, be very careful, read, take your time, don’t allow distractions, and be very clean.
Old Wood LLC will replace any board up to the point of installation, but once it is nailed down it becomes your problem except in the case that an actual board were to fail at which point we will still replace the board free of charge, but the removal and re-installation will be the responsibility of your installer or your own. This person absolutely needs to look at every board with a critical eye before they nail it down. On a large commercial job one of the installers said to me "What do you want me to do? Look at every board!?" I made sure he didn't come back to work the next day. Moron. Of course he needs to look at every board!
Find a Floor Installer with actual experience with Doug Fir or have yours call me so we can visit prior to starting.
There are some tricks to finishing DF, although nothing to fancy. Installers have nearly all complimented us on our machining saying it has spoiled them on other products. Our in-house installer hates to install other peoples woods now as there is so much more work to do on most of them.
Our floor is an ISO 9002 Profile which means it has a flooring tongue and groove not just slip together type. There are intentionally built in relief's and gaps to allow for expansion and contraction as ambient humidity and temp change. Look at the end of the boards to see these. We normally use a .005” bottom relief as the wood is quite stable.
Also, you will notice two or more 'fingertip backouts' which are designed to help prevent cupping and warping. I personally believe these are critical although a few in my industry would disagree.
On top of the tongue is a nailing flange or small 'V' Groove which is designed to receive the nail from the flooring nailer. We recommend 'L' or 'T' top, serrated flooring nails, set into an adequate multi-ply substrate. Use the right length, use plenty of nails at least one every 8 inches or so.
Ideally, I like to see a sheet of Tyvek or other permeable building wrap laid on the concrete or between layers of plywood. In the desert SW, I am of the opinion that this can mitigate moisture but also another problem we have out here: Radon gas. I don't know if this is an issue in other areas but I understand it to be so. I cannot give proof that my 'solution' even works but it is better than nothing! Anyway, it is a great moisture barrier that lets water get out (down) but not in (up as on a slab).
I don’t love any kind of waterproof paper such as tar paper as these always collect moisture on the underside. Moisture = mold my book.
Two layers of 1/2" ply are an ideal substrate and while OSB can work, I prefer real plywood such as CDX or better. Looks don't matter of course.
Todays OSB is cheap and seems to hold up well. Do your own homework on this, I won’t say definitively although I have personally used OSB in my office spaces here at theplant with no issues in four year.
Doug Fir doesn't expand or contract much as we send it to you at a legitimate 6-8% (depending on ambient humidity in NM at the time of drying, better to order early and have the wood dried prior to, or after late July early August monsoons). Our kiln is high temp, high flow (lots of air) and while we do our level best to dry all wood, in humid weather the EMC or Equilibrium Moisture Content will be higher in any wood than in dry weather.
Equipment: Air or manual floor nailer, a carefully squared chop saw (call me and I will explain what an old timer shared with me about squares…..pretty amazing). And a ‘normal’ set of tools.
Nails: Commonly available flooring specific nails. 'T' or 'L' top. Use plenty, at least one per 10". Finishing nails as appropriate for thickness of wood and substrate. Keep a set of good nail sets on hand.
Face nailing: where this is necessary along walls and starter courses: pre-drill pilot holes to preclude splitting along the vertical grain.
Putty: Water or thinner based? Hmmm. I like a product called Timber Mate. I like Famowood also.
I like to keep some light and some dark. Usually Tan Oak and Mahogany.
I use one or the other or even mix these on some knots to get a good camouflaged look. Let it dry for a little while and sand it. On larger holes it’s better to use several layers as it tends to shrink up as it dries.
Douglas Fir is very moisture tolerant, much more than any other wood I can think of and it can be damp mopped with no problems, although the adage is to 'wear the coating not the wood' which means that the top coat should be renewed as necessary which will maintain a water proof barrier as well as protecting the finish.
I f you’re using Oils or wax, refinish often, annually at least.
firstname.lastname@example.org , or call us at 888-545-9663 anytime.
David J. Old
Old Wood LLC www.douglasfirfloors.com
(888) 545-9663 toll free
(505) 454-6007 fax
(505) 983-5454 home office
(505) 470-3616 cell