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Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

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  • Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

    I've been hired on to refinish a rustic pine floor. The boards are 12" wide, and most go the full width of the room. They're in relatively good shape, and the sanding and re-finishing should go smoothly.

    The only head-scratcher is some bad gaps between the boards. The owner installed this floor himself a number of years ago, and I suspect the boards were not dry enough when he did it. Subsequent drying and shrinkage left gaps between many of the boards, some as big as 1/4", maybe even 5/16".

    Someone made a previous attempt to fill these gaps with (white!!) caulking, which did not turn out too well. The caulk shrank and pulled away from one side or the other, and most of it has since rubbed off.

    The owner mentioned "some small gaps" on the phone, and I suggested we might be able to fill them with epoxy - something I've heard done before, but never done myself. Now that I've seen the floor and seen just how many gaps there are and how big they are, I see that it would be quite the undertaking to do that much epoxy filling! Even one board at a time, it would be tough to get it mixed and applied within the set time, and I'm not sure where even to procure that much epoxy!

    Anyway, I'm open to any and all suggestions you guys might have.

    Thanks!

  • #2

    Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

    Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

    With the seasonal variations of the home's humidity, and noting that it was likely installed as 'wet wood', the gaps will likely close up in the more humid season.
    If you fill them now, it will very likely 'pop' when the next season arrives.

    I think you'd be wasting your time and material.

    How tough will it be to remove that caulking?
    Please remember that free advise from the Internet is worth what you paid for it ...

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    • #3

      Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

      Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

      Those boards are going to continue expanding and contracting with the seasons. Clean out the caulking and leave it.
      Powder to the People

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      • #4

        Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

        Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

        I did some floors with "cottage grade" pine. I did not have a problem with cracks in the joints, but did with knots, and in a few cases with boards that were bent, and cracked across the grain when I straightened them. These were 1x6 T&G.

        I used epoxy with a colored filler so the flaws became features, kind of like Microsoft stuff.

        You can get epoxy in various sized containers. Lee Valley sells up to 39 oz in WEST system , but I have bought a gallon can for a canoe.

        I can't comment on how the idea would look in straight lines. I liked the filled knots, but they were random features, sort of like like Microsoft bugs.
        In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity. - Thomas Sowell

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        • #5

          Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

          Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

          I wonder if some kind of chinking material would be able to stand up to that application?????? Chinking for log homes needs to bond to the logs yet have some degree of flexibility, just a thought.

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          • #6

            Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

            Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

            Consider the type of flexible Caulking used on boat decks. Do a Google for more information: There are many different types. Some comes in caulking tubes

            I have seen some old wide board pine floors that had been refinished. The gaps were quite wide [ 1/4 inch ] and had been filled with caulking of some kind. Exactly what I do not know.

            A site for caulking:
            http://www.sika.gr/PDF/eng/Sika%20Wo...System_ENG.pdf
            Last edited by Egon; 11-06-2010, 08:14 AM.
            Egon
            from
            The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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            • #7

              Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

              Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

              Consider the type of flexible Caulking used on boat decks. Do a Google for more information: There are many different types. Some comes in caulking tubes

              I have seen some old wide board pine floors that had been refinished. The gaps were quite wide [ 1/4 inch ] and had been filled with caulking of some kind. Exactly what I do not know.

              The gaps were used as a feature of the floor and looked good.
              Egon
              from
              The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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              • #8

                Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

                Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

                I believe Tom Silva on Ask This Old House did a segment on exactly what you are facing. He sanded the floors down and refinished them leaving the gaps. He then used some sort of hemp rope (the brown coloured one) and dipped it in stain and then forced it into the cracks. He said something like that the rope wouldn't come out of the cracks as the seasons change because there was flexibility in the rope. It might be on their website as a video.

                Hope this helps.

                Stephan

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                • #9

                  Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

                  Re: Filling gaps between boards on a rustic pine floor

                  Callee,

                  There is nothing more worse than caulk shrinkage during the cold season! Seinfeld did a documentary on this same issue back in the 90's!

                  Does you customer want their floor to look like perfectly machined hardwood flooring? They will NEVER get that with an old, wide pine floor. I have 2 x 8 pine flooring in my house and it expands and contracts at least 1/8" seasonly - leaving gaps up to 1/4". I would never consider filling the gaps with caulk or epoxy for two reasons - I think its a short term solution and I think it ruins the look of an old floor.

                  The hemp rope solution is what has been done for hundreds of years. I didn't do it in mine, but may do it down the road. For now, I tolerate the gaps, and vaccuum them when needed.

                  I believe it was Confuscious that wrote: Good stiff rope fills cracks better than shrinking caulk!

                  Max
                  "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."

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