Laying Wood Floors the Right Direction – Yes it Matters – Case Study Part One

Here we have a situation that could have been avoided with a little planing and knowledge. In our video section you can see me preparing a sub-floor on the main floor, of a Toronto home, before installing a new oak floor. Well believe it or not, (because of my busy schedule) the owner hired a major Toronto based firm to install a similar floor on the second floor. He was quite happy with my work, but by the time he decided to replace the upstairs floor, I was already booked 6 weeks in advance. He had to move in within a week or two at most.

What a disaster this big company created ! By the time I saw the work that they had done it was too late for any simple remedies. These flooring contractors had chosen to install a cheap pre-finished floor and had run the boards in the wrong direction. The new floor had large gaps , was terribly uneven and squeaked. It reminded me of the old floor that it had replaced. Actually it was worse, because the wide pre-finished strips had no bevels on the ends, so as you walked on it your feet felt every undulation of this poorly milled material (made by a major North American manufacturer).

Just like on the main floor , the second floor originally had an old thin 3/8 ” by 2″ strip floor , full of gaps and very squeaky when I first saw it. The two things the owner insisted was that the floor be level and quiet , period. The most sure way to achieve this was to remove the old hardwood , level the subfloor , add plywood underlay , and install a new narrow 3/4″ by 2″ strip . This floor would then be sanded to level and finished to perfection.

All these steps were necessary because the pine planked sub floor had a pronounced “barreling ” or convex surface. There is also a long narrow hallway in which the subfloor followed. If the new flooring were to run across the hall instead of down it you would get a unsightly “ladder effect” The simple solution would be to install 1/4″ underlay (or better yet 1/2″ if you can add that much height to the floor) then you can install the new strip floor any way you want changing direction as you come into a different room.

But instead the speedy Toronto company spent little time preparing the sub-floor, when it could have been easily sanded fairly level and renailed with 3″ spikes( at least two nails in every board on every joist). They went ahead and inslalled a poorly milled pre-finished floor, when a sand -on- site floor would have been more suited to this job. And to top it all they laid the 3″ oak strips in the same direction as the sub-floor, without the benifit of underlay plywood to seperate them. The result squeaks for itself.

The owner feels quite misled by this firm who assured him this was the ” industry standard ” they were following. I can assure you it is not and I will be preparing myself for the up coming Small Claims Court action my angry client intends to persue. This will be the third case that I have offered my services as an expert witness ( I helped win the first two) . I only hope this errant company settles out of court and avoids the public exposure I will give the case on this Web Site. These cases take almost a year to end up in the courtroom. So although I can’t name the contractor until they are found culpable, I can keep you abreast of the events as they unfold.