Amish made hardwood

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 Post subject: Looking for Removable Plugs for Screw-down Planks
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:59 pm 
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This, from a DIYer with an appreciation for re-using old, if not historic, flooring:

How can I plug the counter-sunk screw holes in top-screwed floor planks in a way that the plugs will stay in place for a century or more during normal use, but can be relatively-easily removed in the future should someone want to reuse the planks in their next remodel? Here’s why I ask:

The oldest part of our home was built in 1827. After removing the 2 ¼’ wide Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) strip flooring that was installed in one of the bedrooms circa 1927, we discovered that the original flooring was 1 ¼” thick white pine planks ranging in width from 8 to 14 inches with no subfloor. In order to bring the insulation, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems up to 21st century standards, we had to strip the walls and ceilings back to the framing such that, after the remodel, the only interior surfaces, if any, that would be reminiscent of the original house would be the finished flooring…and that would be the case only if we took special care to preserve and reuse the original finished flooring.

Unfortunately, most of the original white pine flooring in the subject bedroom had been damaged-beyond-reuse during previous remodels and/or didn’t survive being pried up from the joists, but we’d like to maintain as much of that original character as possible by installing new white pine planks over 23/32” Advantek T & G OSB subfloor panels. We realize white pine is too soft for the flooring in a high traffic area, but this will be in a bedroom, and any dents and scratches in the bedroom white pine would actually help it match the condition of the hardwood floors that exist in other parts of the house which are hemlock, southern yellow pine and red oak.

Given: a) that the original flooring was top-nailed; b) that we want to preserve that top-nailed look; and c) that I like the Europeans’ idea of installing hardwood flooring with screws so that it can be removed with minimal damage for re-use in some future decade/century, I’m planning to top-screw and plug the white pine planks. Hence my preference to use plugs that will stay in place until someone wants to remove them in order to unscrew the planks.

Another, very practical reason to want to be able to unscrew the planks at some future date is that it seems likely that trying to remove the planks without first unscrewing them will almost certainly result in destruction of the subfloor, which seems as unfriendly to the environment as it is an extraordinary amount of work.


Any recommendations...especially those based on experience...would be greatly appreciated!


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Amish made hardwood

 Post subject: Re: Looking for Removable Plugs for Screw-down Planks
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:21 am 
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I've used walnut plugs that come with the flooring to cover the screws. We always sanded the floor after the plugs were installed. The other guys would save the screws when they installed the flooring and no one noticed. The flooring came pre-drilled for the plugs and we used glue to put the plugs in.
On other jobs we used redwood dowels that were cut into octagonal dowels and we drilled deep enough so that the plugs fit by compression. It didn't matter if we drilled too deep cause no screws were used.
If you want to duplicate the factory made plugs and are sanding the floor also, you can make them out of any dowel stock that you buy at the hardware store. If you want to use screws, too, put a depth stop on your drill and drill holes where you need them. Use a hand saw to cut the dowels flush with the surface leaving them proud so the sanding will make them perfect. The dowels could then be drilled out with a slightly smaller drill if the flooring is to be recycled in the future. If you stain the floor the dowels would be darker than the surrounding wood. If a natural finish, the dowels will still show but be more subtle.


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 Post subject: Re: Looking for Removable Plugs for Screw-down Planks
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:05 am 
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Thanks for your very helpful reply, Pete A.!

As relatively novices, the wife and I just finished blind-screwing about 200 square feet of 2 1/2" wide southern yellow pine strip flooring that's approximately 100 years old that we reclaimed from our house during its remodel. Even though we tried to be careful while prying up the strips, they suffered a lot of damage during the uninstall, so our/my goal in screwing them down during the reinstall was to make it possible for future owners to remove them with minimal damage should they, like us, want to reuse them.

Whew, for those who weren't sure, screwing floor boards down is a LOT more work than simply blind nailing tongue-and-groove flooring with a pneumatic flooring nailer!

While the long-range planner in me likes the Europeans’ idea of installing hardwood flooring with screws so that it can be removed with minimal damage for re-use in some future decade/century, if this practice is going to catch on in the New World, somebody needs to invent a machine that lets a single installer stand-up while whacking the boards into place and screwing them down. Otherwise, I found I needed to have my wife stand on the boards while I kneeled down to screw them in so that we could be certain the boards laid flat on the subfloor. (There's a tendency for the screws to lift a floor board as the screw enters the subfloor unless one keeps a lot of pressure on the floor board.)

Our next flooring project is to install wide-plank Eastern White Pine in the bedroom in the oldest--1827--part of the house. Whether we screw-and-plug those planks or top nail with historic-looking square cut nails is a design decision we haven't made yet...but at least we now have a much better idea of how much additional work is required when screwing down flooring, or top-nailing wide planks--both of which require kneeling to install the fasteners--versus installing tongue-and-groove strip flooring using a stand-up pneumatic flooring nailer.

Again, I thank Pete A...as well as the other contributors to this forum...for the valuable advice they so selflessly provide!


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