Our wood flooring installation was a race against the clock — back in June, we had but a few short days to install over 300 square feet of our wood subfloor before the start of our Timber Framing Workshop. No pneumatic nailers here, no big sheets of plywood — only a huge pile of nail-y, reclaimed yellow pine tongue and groove flooring, full sun blasting down on us, and a few great helping hands to see us through to victory.
Here is the story of our wood flooring installation, and why I think we chose the best wood floor for the job.
The Best Wood Floors?
So why the heck did we use old tongue and groove for our subfloor installation? At Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, we have a covenant that demands that all lumber used in construction must be either reclaimed or locally/sustainably harvested. Quite simply, that eliminates new plywood, and going to Home De(s)pot and picking through the lumber piles.
So we went the reclaimed wood route, which meant a fair amount of extra labor, but the cost was about right. At $1.10/square foot, we paid a fair price for some pretty nice yellow pine flooring material — most of it was sweet 10-16 foot clear, long lengths, free of knots. You simply cannot get brand new wood like this anymore, it seems. Certainly not for $1.10/sq. ft. For our purposes, the best wood flooring is reclaimed — it’s inexpensive, the quality is high, and we’re saving additional trees from getting cut down by giving old material a new life. Granted, it is a fair amount of labor, but that’s what we signed up for, ya know?
We plan on using the same flooring material for the finish floor, but of course we will finish it really nicely.
The Wood Flooring Installation
The most difficult thing about working with reclaimed wood flooring is that each piece is different. There’s nails to deal with, of course, but there’s also a fair amount of warping that happens to this kind of material that’s been installed in a house for well over 50 years.
It is important to start the job with your best, longest, straightest pieces to start off on the right foot. As you continue, you can start the introduce the somewhat lesser quality pieces, forcing them into position, using pipe clamps to assist in getting a really nice, right fit. Obviously, the really wonky stuff might just have to get scrapped. But with an extra pair of helping hands, you can achieve a nice, tight fit with slightly bowed pieces.
In two full days, we were able to get the subfloor installed in the main portion of the house (300 square feet). It took an average of four people, and a whole lot of sweat, but we did it. I’m happy we went with the reclaimed wood. We ended up face nailing most of it for the purposes of speed, and thankfully our joists were largely quite level, so we did not run into many problems on that front.