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 Post subject: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:02 pm 
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Link to pictures: https://imgur.com/gallery/ticFWqW

This is my wife and I’s first attempt at laying nail down hardwood flooring or any flooring for that matter in our bedroom. It’s 3/4” x 3 1/4" solid maple we bought from Home Depot. We let it acclimate in our master bedroom for literally 3 months. I know we should have measured the humidity of the subfloor and flooring, but we are in a really dry area and installed it on a day with 14% humidity outside…not ideal, I know.

At its widest this gap is the width of a dime. I watched a ton of videos showing how to install it correctly, but never heard anyone mention that widths of the boards could vary enough to cause gapping on install!

The rest of the room is basically seamless, which was really hard to do with the quality of these boards (lots of broken tongues, cupped/warped boards, but worst of all is the differences in widths). We factored in the 10% of expected waste, but are right around 20% even using a fair about of boards with dings and visual defects in areas that will be under our bed. We are almost done with the room and were really good about staggering adjacent board joints 4-6” like the instructions recommend until we screwed up and foolishly put two boards literally right next to each other after a long day installing and didn't notice it until we installed a few more rows.

I’m a custom furniture builder and somewhat of a perfectionist so this gap is really pissing me off. On previous rows, slight gaps would pull in with the flooring stapler, but even prying our hardest and trying different boards we couldn’t get these gaps to pull-in. I didn’t realize how much of an effect this width difference had until I had installed about 4 more rows and at the time didn’t want to rip it all up.

I’m mad at myself for not reading reviews about Bruce before purchasing…my folks have it in their custom house and always told me what a great product they got for the price. After reading reviews I see a lot of people have issues with varying width boards….some guys mention sorting each row based on these varying widths, which would be a real pain in the ass but wishing I would have known to do it! Also wish, I would've known to inspect the widths with my calipers and just reject the order and saved myself all this frustration.

Is there anything I can do at this point to get these gaps to pull in? I may be going crazy overthinking this. I'm contemplating ripping tiny strips off waste boards with either my tablesaw or bandsaw and gluing them in to lessen the gap, but leave a hair for expansion. Figure I could even use my tapering jig to match the angle of some gaps. Any thoughts on this?

After reading way too much info online, some manufacturers say a dime width is not that huge on pre-finished flooring so maybe it’s just something I need to live with? Figure I may be able to put a rug there and cover some of it I guess. Am I expecting way too much wanting my 1st install to be flawless with a product like Bruce?

Thanks for reading and any help that can be provided.


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Amish made hardwood

 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:14 pm 
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gearhound wrote:

The rest of the room is basically seamless


EDIT: After reading this back, this is too generous. There are tiny gaps in other areas from some boards being wider than others. Really kicking myself for not recognizing this sooner!


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 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:18 am 
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Just because you have had the flooring opened up for a while does not mean that it has acclimated to the best condition for laying it. As wood picks up or loses moisture it will move according to how it was milled and the grade.
I like Bruce flooring because it has the mix of clear and some select that has just the right amount of the knot removed. I like the burl and swirl of the grain that shows that it has been graded conservatively.
Since the wood has been kiln dried as uniformly as can be, considering a kiln load consists of lots of boards and spots may be slightly different moisture content in the load before it was milled and graded, you will get slightly different dimensions with a change of moisture content as you go through the acclimation process.
Plain sawn and quarter-sawn boards will change dimension differently with a change of moisture content. With the big difference of grain characteristics it is no wonder that the boards have different dimensions. I have laid oak floors that have different dimensions and have had a little trouble, too. The more the wood has "acclimated," the more the trouble.
Experience will help to get the flooring laid at the time the conditions are the best for the boards to act as one, with some pressure as some of the boards expand to compensate others that will shrink. A moisture meter, experience and some luck help.
Natural colored maple pre-finished flooring will be one of the hardest to find just the right timing to have the least amount of gaps, without too much pressure to cause cupping. The gap "shadows" show up against the light color of the surface.


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 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:22 am 
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I agree with Pete - just because you acclimated the material doesn't mean its in the right range for installation (remember the purpose of acclimation is to prepare the wood for the climate it is to perform in all year round, which should be as stable as possible and close to 50-55%RH). You've said the RH is around 45% on the instagram post which is pretty dry for a summer installation. Moreover, how in the summer months is it only 14%RH OUTSIDE? That's Crazy Dry and may as well be in the desert. Installing in that kind of range will mean the wood goes in contacted and should expand. This may work out if you can bring the RH up to 55% at least to start and that should help close the gaps although the other boards that have been installed tightly, may start to crack. Maple is a tricky species and is very susceptible to changes in RH - you need to keep the climate in your home consistent; run the AC in the summer and a humidifier in the winter. YOU WILL NEED A HUMIDIFIER if you're already this dry, otherwise when you turn the heat on for the winter months those dime gaps will grow and grow and once debris gets in between they will have trouble closing again. Consistency is the key to a maple floor, keep the RH the same all year round and it will look beautiful for years.

A short term solution while you sort our your humidifier situation is to dump some buckets of water on the concrete floor if you have an unfinished basement and let that evaporate to introduce moisture into the home. Though a humidifier is best solution - if its a big house, consider a steam humidifier.


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 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:49 am 
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Thanks for the responses guys! I live at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and it's incredibly dry...install day it was about 90 degrees and my phone said it was 14% humidity outside. Not sure what it was inside with my AC going. Just looked up the data and average humidity is 37%, with July surprisingly being the LEAST humid and Feb being the MOST humid!

Is there a chance that even the crooked gaps could close if I can get my house to around 55% humidity? Roughly how long will it have to stay at a steady level to see movement? Any recommendations for a humidifier and monitor I can purchase? Kiddos destroyed our old unit: https://www.homedepot.com/p/AIRCARE-3-6 ... /100648223 Should I be looking into something similar to this or something else?

Sounds like I should first deal with humidity levels and monitor gaps before getting crazy and trying to rip thin strips to close up gaps?


Thanks again for the help!


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 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:53 am 
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Yes, resist the urge to fill those gaps - if the humidity situation is sorted out and the wood returns to normal, it'll expand and push out any filler which can leave stains on the finish. You also risk edge-bonding and buckling if the floor gets too tight, though it sounds like you won't have that problem with your climate.

As for which humidifier, it depends on the SQFT in your home - you'll need a big enough unit and have it balanced properly for your specific space, something I always recommend is done by a professional HVAC company, since you'll get a warranty with the installation and balancing, as opposed to trying to figure it out yourself with Youtube and Uncle Google. A bigger unit can always be turned down or off, so make a good investment rather than going with the cheapest, smallest model available and having it work overtime to achieve the same results.


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 Post subject: Re: 1st time ever laying Bruce Hardwood Flooring and have gaps!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:32 pm 
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Upon further examination of other joints in the rest of our master bedroom, I can now see that using boards of different width also threw rows out of a straight line. It's nothing you would even notice from a standing or sitting position, but another thing that irks me about my 1st install.

My wife thinks I'm crazy, but if there was a somewhat efficient way to rip up all these boards and re-lay them knowing what I know now I think I may do it just to not look at these gaps every time I walk into the room! I've used an oscillating tool to undercut some staples and take up a few boards, but doing that across a whole 300sq. ft. room would take an eternity. How do pros quickly take up floors they plan on re-using? Prying them up seems like it would destroy tongues and part of the groove. Is this an insane idea for the size of these gaps?


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