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    Aspen07's Avatar
    Aspen07 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Oct 6, 2008, 09:59 PM
    Tongue and groove floor gaps
    We had a 1 1/2" thick tongue and groove floor installed for the upper level of our cabin which also serves as the ceiling of our main level. It looks great on the main level but upstairs, there are wide spaces where the tongue and groove meet. The boards weren't perfect and it rained and rained the summer we installed them before the roof was finished. It is so hard to sweep dust, insects, etc. out of the grooves. We haven't put a finish on it yet. Everyone we have asked have said there is nothing we can do. We know that it adds to the character of the floor to have some spaces but there are way too many. Does anyone have any ideas of something we can try to fill the grooves before we put a finish on the floor? We're ready to try anything and if it doesn't work, we'll have to put a new floor over it.
    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #2

    Oct 6, 2008, 10:32 PM

    How wide are we talking about and how much linear feet has the problem.

    Ust an estimate like 30' 1/8", 20' 1/8 to 3/16 gap, 10 ' > 1/4" gap.
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #3

    Oct 7, 2008, 09:24 AM

    Your boards were not dry enough to install and have now shrunk to a size they will keep. You can't fill that groove with wood putty or filler since the floor boards will always continue to move a tiny bit. If you hate the look you could still install a laminate or enginerred floor on top of it.
    Aspen07's Avatar
    Aspen07 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Oct 7, 2008, 09:36 AM

    The area we are talking about is 24' x 36'. I would estimate the linear foot measurement we are concerned about is 150'--1/3" wide gap, 250'--1/4" wide gap. Is there a mixture I could make with sawdust and something to bind it together? What about sawdust and varnish? I would like to try something before covering it up. Thanks.
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    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #5

    Oct 7, 2008, 11:14 AM

    You can certainly try many things like wood putty or even saw dust and varnish. However, I think you haven't pictured how a wood floor acts during seasonal changes. Even an oak hardwood floor will expand and contract from season to season. You might not notice it but the seams in hardwood open enough to slide a playing card into the seam, the crack is hidden by the edge of the flooring. If you patch with putty or varnish the patch will be brittle and when the floor contracts you will get an irregular tear or crack through your patch. A floating floor would hide that problem.
    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #6

    Oct 7, 2008, 11:37 AM

    There isn't much that will fix a 1/4" gap.
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    Aspen07 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Oct 7, 2008, 12:24 PM

    Thanks for your help and advice. It looks like we'll have to put a floating floor on top.
    WWPierre's Avatar
    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #8

    Oct 12, 2008, 11:18 PM
    This will be messy, and a lot of work but will yield a smashing floor.

    You will need a plunge router with a round base. Get a router bit as wide as the widest gap and a long straight board to use as a guide. Bet the board on the floor so that the router bit goes down the middle of the gap. You can make a gauge to set the distance. You may be able to screw the straightedge to the floor and putty the screw holes at the finishing stage. If you use coarse thread drywall screws, the holes will almost disappear during the finishing process.

    Run the router along the gap to make the sides parallel to a depth of 1/4" to 3/8". You must be very careful. If the straightedge is on the right as you push forward, the router will tend to stay against the straightedge, if you pull the router back, or use it on the left side of the straightedge, it will tend to scoot off, chewing away at your floor. You can insure against this by putting a straightedge on both sides of the router. In other words, build a simple jig to control the router path.

    You will not be able to get the router right to the wall. You will have to hand chisel out the last 3 inches or so. Use a utility knife on the sides of the dado and a sharp chisel to remove the waste.

    Once all your gaps are routered, go to a hardware store and get some polyurethane varnish and some polyurethane sealant. The sealant is like very sticky toothpaste in a caulking tube, and sets up like the rubber in tires on exposure to the moisture in the air. Some kinds set up softer than others. It is sold as masonry sealant or marine sealant. The same stuff can cost anywhere between $7 and $20 a tube. It comes in grey, black, white, and mahogany. Lepages make grey masonry sealant for the lower price but it is grey. Black or white would be better for your floor, probably.

    Marine stores carry Sikaflex, which is pricy, but comes in a variety of "softnesses" Get the type for sealing teak boat decks.

    Back to the job: Brush a coat of polyurethane varnish in the grooves. This is especially important with open grained woods. After it is dry, fill the grooves with the polyurethane sealant, making sure the stuff completely fills the groove, and comes slightly proud of the surface. Plan your work carefully, as the stuff may take a few days to set completely depending on temperature, humidity, and the size of the gap. I make counter tops like this and can squeeze the stuff in so that it just bulges above the surface. After it sets, I shave it flush with a nice sharp chisel.

    Sand your floor, and give it 3 coats of polyurethane varnish, sanding lightly between coats. Did I mention your tools need to be sharp?

    The result is a rubber strip which is bonded to the floorboards and moves with the seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood.
    Aspen07's Avatar
    Aspen07 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Oct 18, 2008, 09:40 AM

    WWPierre- I like your suggestion. What is the reason for routing-aesthetics? We'll try it this coming spring. We can't get to our cabin this time of year. Thanks.
    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #10

    Oct 18, 2008, 10:41 AM

    The Fein Multimaster at Fein Power Tools USA Quality Precision Power Tools will allow close cutting.
    hkstroud's Avatar
    hkstroud Posts: 11,929, Reputation: 899
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    #11

    Oct 19, 2008, 06:52 AM

    I have a problem with WWPierre's suggestion.

    It's a great idea but there are these things called nails, assuming normal tongue and groove installation.
    WWPierre's Avatar
    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #12

    Oct 19, 2008, 06:19 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Aspen07 View Post
    WWPierre- I like your suggestion. What is the reason for routing-aesthetics? We'll try it this coming spring. We can't get to our cabin this time of year. Thanks.

    Just to standardize the gap, (yes, aesthetics) but also to provide enough leeway so the shrinkage is within the range of the stretching. You need enough cross-section of the "rubber" to allow for the seasonal movement. 1/4" wide will give you a greater range of movement. Say it stretches 50%, 1/16" would only stretch 1/32" but 1/4 will stretch 1/8". Wide boards will shrink more, so the gaps should be wider. How wide are the boards? I am picturing 2x6 double T&G.
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    Aspen07 Posts: 8, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Oct 19, 2008, 08:56 PM

    WWPierre- The boards are 2x6 and the gaps vary from very small up to 1/4 inch. Thanks for your input.
    WWPierre's Avatar
    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #14

    Oct 20, 2008, 11:12 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
    I have a problem with WWPierre's suggestion.

    It's a great idea but there are these things called nails, assuming normal tongue and groove installation.
    Good call, Harold, We have to assume that the nails are either in the face, (in which case, no problem, or (more probably) driven at an angle through the tongue. The depth of the router must be set to avoid the nails. Hopefully the nails were "set" properly, in which case a depth setting of 1/8 to 3/16 should avoid them. I would buy a couple of spare bits, though.

    The actual "gasket" would end up being "T" shaped. The top cross of the "T" would stretch, but the down stroke may not have enough stretch in some places, and would separate from the wood on one side or the other, which would not matter much, as long as there was enough stretch in the top cross to handle the seasonal movement.

    BTW Aspen07, don't do this first thing next spring, (I am assuming no heat over the winter), wait till later on in the summer when the boards are shrunk the most.
    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #15

    Oct 20, 2008, 12:55 PM

    WM:

    Do you believe he could route at any time? It's just that the caulikng has to be done late in the summer?
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    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #16

    Oct 22, 2008, 10:03 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by KeepItSimpleStupid View Post
    WM:

    Do you believe he could route at any time? It's just that the caulikng has to be done late in the summer?
    Yes.
    ballengerb1's Avatar
    ballengerb1 Posts: 27,379, Reputation: 2280
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    #17

    Oct 22, 2008, 07:13 PM

    I guess it really depends on if the HO wants it to look like a professional job or a patch. If I were brought in to assess this repair my recommendation would be replace the old floor totally or to install a floating laminate floor. I have a cabin with this type of material and thes floor are terrible creakie to start with and now the shrinkage has caused the tongues to no longer have any grip let alone a good look. Time and money always play a big roll in home fixes.
    WWPierre's Avatar
    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #18

    Oct 23, 2008, 10:51 AM

    I have not done any floors this way, but have built lots of "boat deck" countertops. In theory, the floors could end up looking like the countertops in my kitchen.

    These have been in service since the early nineties. (It is about time to re-finish.) The cutting board is Corian, and that is local granite beside the stove. The roll-up hides the sandwich-creation station.
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    KISS's Avatar
    KISS Posts: 12,510, Reputation: 839
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    #19

    Oct 23, 2008, 11:12 AM

    Which Sikaflex? 296?

    Sika Corporation | USA
    WWPierre's Avatar
    WWPierre Posts: 78, Reputation: 4
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    #20

    Oct 23, 2008, 11:27 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by KeepItSimpleStupid View Post
    Which Sikaflex? 296?

    Sika Corporation | USA
    Been a long while, I think the 291 would do it. The governing factor is sandability after cure.

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