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Old 1900s hardwood flooring no subfloor...and possible termites

I recently purchased a small two story house from 1900. The upstairs portion has what appears to be the original wide plank pine floors with that orangey stain. There are a few concerns we have....

1) There are large gaps between boards and you can sometimes see light shining through from the kitchen below. The kitchen ceiling is exposed bottom of the pine floors painted white - deterioration of wood between these boards is present. This is concerning to us since we are worried the boards might break through due to lack of support and old wood (see image 5292 attached). Thoughts?

2) Some boards upstairs feel soft and thin when you walk on them. Especially ones with large gaps between them that allow light from the kitchen to shine up through them. Is this a structural or safety concern? What are some ideas to fix this if it needs to be?

3) We are worried there are several indications of termite damage. In addition, to the many large gaps, grooves, holes and soft/squeaky boards, there are large deep grooves in several boards (see picture below). What are these grooves? Termite damage or just old wear and tear? They are deep but don't go all the way through the board. (see image 5290 and 5291 below)

4) Lastly, we can't figure out why there is a circle patch job in the hardwood floor. Any thoughts? 


Re: Old 1900s hardwood flooring no subfloor...and possible...


What's with the green tape on the floor? If you are using any water based products, stop now. Always use oil based products on wood.

1. The gaps that you see from the first floor up are nothing more than where the water in the wood dried over time. That is natural. They cut the wood most likely from the property where the house is sitting.

2. Have you measured the depth of the plank? I bet what you are feeling is the joist giving a little from the end. The nails used then were not coated nor were they hardened, and eventually rust and sheer off. Check that and add a few nails to the end of the joist. floor boards do not give like that. They used to cut out the structure to accommodate plumbing. our house was build before indoor plumbing. So structure was cut to install the new pipes of the time.

3. Grooves are where something was sitting there, like a coal stove that burned the wood where the legs were sitting. Or iron steam heaters. Cast iron bathtub, etc.... That was the time when everything was built to last. No plastic anything back then. What you have shown in the picture is nothing at all to be concerned about. Again, measure the depth of the plank. I bet that you will find it is a good one inch or maybe 5 quarter thick. There is nothing in the wood that a termite will want to eat. No moisture is present. So no sugar or water for them to survive.

4. That is where a pipe went thru the floor. Either from a bathroom, steam pipe, coal stove chimney, water heater, etc... We have small plugs in our kitchen floor where things were moved at one time. It is the way they used to plug a hold in a wood floor. You will most likely find a matching hole in the attic and in the roof planks. That would indicate a stove pipe.

I grew up in a Victorian house, and now own my own of the same. There are many things I have seen that are no longer done. Plugging a hole in a wood floor is only one. They used the material on hand and practices they knew.


Handy Andy In Mt Airy NC

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