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What Wood To Use?

I am redoing a small cottage (290-some sqft), the entry and bathroom are going to be tiled.
The living room area floor is only T&G plywood sub floor right now. What I want to do is have very rustic wood plank floors, (face nailed with square nails) that I can lightly paint (make it look like it was painted a long time ago, faded, etc..), but I am unsure of what wood to use.
I don't think I can justify spending tons of money on expensive wood flooring only to rough it up to make it look rustic and then paint it.
I thought about just some basic planks from big box stores like Home Depot, but I read that they are 'green' or too 'wet', and that it takes a long time to dry them.

Any suggestions?:confused:

Re: What Wood To Use?

You might check for a local salvage store or a Habitat For Humanity Resale store in your area.


Ray of Sunshine
Re: What Wood To Use?

If you are going to paint it and distress the surface, I would find inexpensive hardwood floors advertised in Craigslist.org. These are leftovers from other jobs. I recently bought 2000 lf of Honduran Mahogany for $1 per sf. Good Luck!

Re: What Wood To Use?

the big box store lumber is rarely "green" its kiln dried then sits inside a giant heated warehouse. lumberyard lumber which most builders buy through have the fresh stuff

as to what to use, tongue and groove pine barnboard is usually readily available and is kiln dried at most big box stores. meaning its more stable

Re: What Wood To Use?

French Girl:

I think two points have been largely overlooked in this thread so far:

1.) To provide long lasting service on a working surface like a floor, the wood has to be as hard as possible. Otherwise, it gets scratched and damaged easily and won't stand up well to normal wear and tear. That's why hardwoods have traditionally been used for wood floors.

Years ago, when wood floors were the norm, it wasn't uncommon to save money by having a hardwood like maple or oak on the main floor of the house where you entertained guests, but fir on the upper floor of the house where the bedrooms were and people typically walked around in stocking feet or bare feet. But, on the main floor of your cottage, that may not be an option. You need a wood (and finish coat over the wood) that's hard and will stand up to the rough surface of the dirt-embedded leather of shoed feet and to the hard dirt (like road grit and sand) that will inevitably get tracked in to the ground level floor.

I'd phone around to the suppliers of hardwood flooring and see if they have any old stock they'll sell cheap. Either that, or check with the salvage companies that sell used building materials in your area. You're much better off installing a hardwood floor and refinishing it than you are opting for a softer wood that simply won't stand up to wear and tear well.

2.) Your idea of face nailing the boards needs to be modified to use aluminum or copper nails. You're probably not aware of the tannin and iron reaction that creates iron gall ink. That reaction is going to cause black stains to form in the wood around each of the steel nails you use. If you must face nail these boards, at least predrill and use smooth shank aluminum or copper roofing nails instead to prevent those stains from ruining the appearance of your floor.

If you've ever seen a black ring on a hardwood floor about the size of a pot for a floor standing plant, you're looking at the damage caused by overwatering that plant. Most woods contain chemicals called "tannins". They're often what causes the wood to be a yellowish or reddish colour. When you overwater a plant, the water that leaks out onto the floor has probably got iron ions in it from having passed through the soil. When the tannins in wood come into contact with water, the water breaks some of then down into gallic acid, and gallic acid reacts with iron atoms to form a black pigment that stains the wood. This black pigment is also called "iron gall ink" and was used for most of recorded history. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls wee written with it, as was The US Constitution. My understanding is that iron gall ink damage to wood can require that the wood be replaced because the stain can't be removed and pentetrates too deeply into the wood to be sanded out. So, if you plan to have any potted plants on your new wood floor, better to use artificial plants.


Finally, when it comes to nailing your hardwood down, you should be aware that there are very many more drill sizes available than you'll find in a hardware store. Hardware stores will typically only sell fractional size drill bits starting at 1/16 inch diameter and going up in 1/64th inch increments. Hardware stores might even carry metric drill bit sizes. However you should be aware that there are also letter and numbered drill bit sizes available from the companies listed under "Machine Shop Equipment & Supplies" in your yellow pages phone directory. Letter drill bit sizes start at "A", which is just under 1/4 inch in diameter and go up to "Z", which is under 1/2 inch in diameter. Numbered drill bit sizes go from "1", which is just a little smaller than size "A" and go down to "100" which is 1/200th of an inch in diameter. So, for example, just between 3/32 and 1/8 inch in diameter, there are 11 number size drill bits with diameters as follows:

3/32 with a diameter of 0.0938 inches
#41 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.0960 inches
#40 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.0980 inches
#39 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.0995 inches
#38 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1015 inches
#37 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1040 inches
#36 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1065 inches
7/64 with a diameter of 0.1094 inches
#35 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1100 inches
#34 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1110 inches
#33 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1130 inches
#32 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1160 inches
#31 size drill bit with a diameter of 0.1200 inches
1/8 with a diameter of 0.1250 inches

Consequently, if you go to some places that sells machine shop supplies in your area, you should be able to buy numbered drill bits that are ever so slightly smaller than the diameter of your nails. In this way, you should be able to predrill through your hardwood (just the hardwood), and then drive your nail in through that hole without either the nail being loose in the hole or the hardwood splitting.

Re: What Wood To Use?

Thank you for the advice. I went a head and did as was said and looked on Craigslist and also called a flooring store. They had a clearance New England White Pine T&G plank flooring for only $1.19 per sqft.
As a side note: Thanks so much Nestor for your advice, I truly appreciate it, although some of the things you pointed out as being undesirable, are the very things I want to happen to these floors. I chose the NE White Pine because it's soft and I want it to become distressed naturally over time. I am not too concerned about shoes or rocks etc damaging the floor as we don't wear shoes in the house, and have not for almost two decades. As long as the antique reproduction square nails don't eat away at the wood like some kind of acid, any black stains from them are even better. If I could have installed old barn wood with holes, stains, squeaks, paint, even old painted on advertisements, I would! :D

Re: What Wood To Use?

There is no way that smooth shank aluminum nails, face nailed, would ever be a satisfactory fastener. They simply would not be tight enough in the subfloor or framing. That's why flooring is nailed with cut nails, flooring cleats, or resin-coated staples, because these fasteners have high withdrawal resistance.
If you want a exposed head face nail that won't rust, consider ring-shank stainless steel.
I prefer blued cut nails from a maker like Tremont, Get the malleable iron, not the hardened masonry type, for a flooring job. Cut nails will twist clockwise as you drive them, so start the nails about 30 degrees counter-clock from where you want them to end up; if you want them at 3 o'clock, start at 1 o'clock. And pre-drill with a 9/64" bit.

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