Friday, January 28, 2011

Floor halfway laid!

I'm learning a lot. I must admit - I understand how floors work, and I've done some repairs and some click-together laminate, but I've never installed hardwood. Still, it's going exactly like I thought it would - it's easy yet tedious. Today I worked really hard, yet really inefficiently, and got almost half the hall cut to fit in place. I flopped down three rows, then double-checked the Internet Consensus. Cussed a lot. Pulled them up and flipped them around so that the tongues go out toward the part you're working on. Laid them back down. Wondered how much expansion joint to leave - looked that up (3/4" is "standard" or possibly "total overkill for a hall" - it's pretty small sq. footage, so it just can't expand like a huge room can. Cussed a lot. Banged my three rows out from the wall, wedged in some scraps of baseboard, kept cutting and dry-laying.

My hall is an L-shape - 17' x 3', then a 90 degree turn, then another 17'x3.' For reasons too tedious to type out, I picked one leg of the hall to be the "long" side, with the boards running the length of the hall. The other leg is the "short" side, with the boards running side to side. When I got the "long" part of the hall down, I realized I'd be much better off using a 3/4" joint instead of the half-inch baseboard - if I use a half-inch joint on one side, I have like an inch on the other side. Using 3/4" on both sides makes the floor come out even without ripping down 17' of flooring planks - and it always looks nicer if you can avoid splitting boards. So I whipped out the prybar and scooted the whole mess over.

I laid about 3' down the short side of the hall, then reached a doorway. I didn't want to cut to fit around the doorway until I was SURE of where the boards will be, so I thought I'd topnail the first row of boards on the long side. I'm not nailing anything until I get the whole floor mostly cut and fit, since I'm renting the nailer - I'm just too slow at this to justify spending days with a rented nailer. Anyway, I headed back up to topnail the first row and realized I really ought to lay in the doorways on the long side - the trim will cover the 3/4" gap along the walls, but I need a half-plank or so in each doorway to cover the threshold. As I feared, my little homeowner grade circular saw doesn't precisely enjoy ripping 3/4" oak, but it did the job. To get the thresholds wedged in, d'oh, I needed to scoot the whole floor up against the far wall. The prybar did the trick, but I was pretty frustrated at that point - why didn't I do the damn doorways first?

Anyway. Got the doorways in. The floorboards are pretty tight against the door jambs - I wonder if I should hacksaw the door jambs off to float just above the planks, in case of expansion? The house gets (relatively) humid in the summer from the swamp cooler - but does hardwood expand along the length a lot, or just along the width?? The internet is inconclusive, and it's something I can do later on.

I drilled and nailed the doorways and the first long run with finish nails. They're pretty unobtrusive, and the trim should almost cover them. Then. Finally! I tapped all the boards back tight and flush with the nailed-down first row, slapped up some boards in the coat closet, and called it a night.

Ta da! One closet, four doorways.


I had to take the door down to the furnace nook. It needs trimming. I hope the cats don't kill themselves or burn down the house in the furnace tonight.

Astute readers are wondering how the hell I'm going to nail the floor after it's laid. I have a complicated scheme to pull it back up and carefully stack it in the right order. I think it will work, but complicated schemes often fail. We'll see... this might end up being cheaper but much more tedious than just renting the damn nailer for two days.

I didn't use the tape measure once. If you want still more words about this, I will explain how to flip boards around to mark where to cut without measuring.

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