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AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
BASEMENT HEAT LOSS
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
BOOKSTORE - INTERIORS
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CABINETS & COUNTERTOPS
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CASEWORK, CABINETS, SHELVING INSTALLATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING INSULATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CEILING FINISHES INTERIOR
CEILINGS, DROP or SUSPENDED PANEL
CEILINGS & WALLS, PLASTER TYPES
CEILING TILES ASBESTOS CONTENT
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CONDENSATION on WINDOWS & SKYLIGHTS
DRYWALL INSTALLATION Best Practices
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS
FLOORING MATERIALS, Age, Types
HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
KITCHEN VENTILATION DESIGN
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
METAL LATH, PLASTER & STUCCO
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
PAINT FALURE, DIAGNOSIS, CURE, PREVENTION
PLASTER TYPE IDENTIFICATION
SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SOUND CONTROL in buildings
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
TRUSS UPLIFT, ROOF
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALL FINISHES INTERIOR
WATER ENTRY in buildings
WINDOWS & DOORS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD Burning Heaters Fireplaces Stoves
WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE
Types of wood flooring: A photo guide to all types and ages of wood flooring in buildings. The list of flooring types by wood species, widths, thickness, edge types (square, shiplap, tongue & groove), and the history and age of the use of these products in buildings is enormous.
Here we provide photographs of a collection of wood flooring types as an aid to flooring restorers, preservationists, and inspectors wishing to determine the age of a building and its materials. The age of a building can be determined quite accurately by documentation, but when documents are not readily available, visual clues such as those available during a professional home inspection can still determine when a house was built.
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The properties of wood as well as its coatings change over time. Wideboard shiplap-edged floors in an 1860's house we restored in Wappingers Falls NY had been coated with a paint made of oxblood and milk. 125 years later this coating was difficult to remove.
Not wanting to use modern floor sanders to make the floors in this historic home dead flat, we tried sanding with portable sanders and found ourselves replacing the sanding belt or disc ever few minutes. Water or other chemicals did not help. We resorted to hand scraping and sanding.
Our antique wide board flooring photos (below) show before and after photographs of the wide board flooring repaired and restored by the author [DF]. These soft pine boards were edged in a ship-lap or "L" cut design in which about 50% of the each board edge is rabbeted or cut away.
Older solid wood boards typically used before 1800 in the Northeastern U.S. often were made of solid 1" thick boards with squared and butted edges.
Watch out: do not fill gaps between shiplap cut or tongue-and groove cut wood floor boards. At Wood Floor Damage we discuss causes and proper treatment of gaps between wood floor boards.
Wood also may become very hard with age. This example about chestnut trim applies to salvaging old wood flooring as well. Removing old trim may require the simultaneous use of multiple thin pry bars to avoid ruining the material.
Nails should be removed from the back of the trim, not the front, by pulling the nail through the wood board. If you try to hammer nails back out from the back to the front or exposed face of the board the nail head will usually split and damage the face of the trim board.
We removed chestnut trim boards in this 1900 home (photo at left) in Poughkeepsie, NY to route new electrical wiring in the lower walls.
It was impossible to nail these beautiful boards back in place - it was like nailing iron. Every nail hole had to be drilled to avoid damaging the wood. The flooring shown here is a combination of 1900's vintage strip flooring and inlay.
Wood Inlay & Parquet Flooring
Continuing with another photo of the Poughkeepsie home built ca 1900, the parquet flooring was surrounded by wood inlay border.
Unfortunately this floor had been sanded several times, resulting in parquet and trim so thin that only the most gentle, non-destructive re-finishing was feasible.
Where parquet sections had come loose a previous owner had secured them with many tiny wire nails.
These were removed by the author, loose pieces were cleaned, and the repaired sections were re-glued to a backer and replaced in the floor.
The result was a salvaged "too thin to sand" but beautiful 1900 parquet floor.
Modern Narrow-Width Solid Wood Strip Flooring
Widespread popular use of thin-width 3/4" thick wood strip flooring began in the U.S. in the 1920's and continued to the 1980's.
Look closely at the edge of the floor, perhaps pulling up quarter-round or baseboard floor trim to expose the very perimeter of the floor, and you may be able to determine how much thickness of the wood has been lost from prior re-sanding and re-finishing.
Our photo, left, shows original pine flooring in a 1920 home restored by the author in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Modern Thin Width Short Length Wood Strip Flooring
Often sold in composite sections (multiple lengths or even widths pre-glued together, and usually pre-finished (see below) this flooring material can be as beautiful as its older longer-length sister.
Carefully chosen and matched thin-strip, wood short length
Our photo of a non-vee type pre-finished oak short-strip full 3/4" thick flooring (below-left) was installed in a home constructed in 1998 shows a floor that can be sanded and re-finished if needed.
Pre-Finished Wood Flooring Materials, Wide Width Hickory
Pre-finished wood flooring can significantly reduce the installation cost for wood floors in a home. Because such floors may be installed by inexpert builders, perhaps over an uneven subfloor without an underlayment, some pre-finished wood flooring is beveled along the board edges, providing a "Vee-groove" shown between abutting floor boards. The Vee will disguise slight irregularities in the floor installation (common) and slight variations in thickness between abutting boards (uncommon).
Hickory is among the hardest of wood floor materials, and is very resistant to damage from rolling desk chairs and furniture or use.
The lovely wood grain pattern shown is the result of work by the authors to pre-sort and arrange individual floor boards before the installers nailed them in place. Alternatively, installers simply nail the boards in a random pattern that can also be attractive to some.
Photo courtesy of Eric Galow, Galow Homes.
Watch out: V-grooved pre-finished floors cannot be easily sanded and re-finished.
In a traditional un-finished wood strip floor installation job any irregularities would vanish during finish sanding and finishing of the floor before the coats of stain (optional) and clear top coating are applied.
But keep in mind that a V-groove pre-finished wood floor cannot be sanded for re-finishing without causing a cosmetic problem: unless the floor is sanded so deeply as to remove the "V" grooves completely, the grooves will be inconsistent across the re-finished floor, a troubling cosmetic defect to many owners.
Also see FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS. If examining resilient flooring that may contain asbestos, also see FLOOR TILE HISTORY & INGREDIENTS and ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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