Face nailing boards

Samantha111November 25, 2011

How can I tell whether stainless steel nails were used to face nail my hardwood floors at the perimeter? I read that using steel instead of stainless creates black marks when exposed to any moisture. I guess they would also corrode over time if you damp mop or wipe your floors down. Would high humidity also be a problem with the blackening?

How can I tell if he used a finish nail or just the same nail that was in the gun he used for attaching the floor to the subfloor?

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glennsfc

No way to really tell at this point. Just fill each hole with a matching wood filler and blackening won't be a problem.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:53AM
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Samantha111

The two nails look the same color? Same head? Why wouldn't they just use stainless?

Do you use stainless for face nailing?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 2:52PM
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brickeyee

"Why wouldn't they just use stainless? "

It is much more expensive ad not normally required.

If the nails are countersunk and the holes filled you will never see any ark.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 3:35PM
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Samantha111

Thank you! I was so worried about this.

The other thing I'm wondering is how the floor can expand into the 1/2" expansion gap at the perimeter if those boards around the edges are face nailed down. I read in another thread that splitting can occur on expansion with face nailing. Maybe I didn't understand the discussion. This is 2 1/4" 3/8" red oak T&G nailed.

Here is a link that might be useful: face nails & splitting

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 10:06PM
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glennsfc

I do not use stainless nails for face nailing...they are brittle and sometimes shatter when pounding them in.

Don't worry about expansion. If your floor moves enough to split boards, then you'd have a catastrophic water event or some other unhappy situation. Face nailing is a common installation practice.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 11:29PM
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Samantha111

Interesting.

This is thin 3/8" flooring. They're using a pneumatic PowerNail and tiny 1" nails.

The expansion thing is confusing. Flooring manufacturers make it sound like the floors walk back and forth by 1/2" with the seasons.

They insisted on leaving a 1/2" gap in front of the bathroom door's stone threshold. Very important. I've never seen anyone's house with a gap there. I've checked out a couple bathroom doors since and the wood goes to the threshold. Then on the short wall right next to it they leave only 1/8". Figure. The drywall goes all the way down behind it so there isn't any space beyond the 1/8".

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 12:37PM
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Samantha111

What do you do at the bathroom threshold?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 10:51PM
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floorman67

Unless the floor area in front of the threshold is extremely large, it is unusual not to butt up to the threshold with the HW.

If the edge of the HW at the threshold is a factory edge, you could rip a piece left over to fit in the space.

Alternately, you could use a topical tapered transition of the same wood type, or stained to match.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 9:48AM
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brickeyee

Do you have "hardwood floors" or an engineered floor?

If they are only 3/8 thick it sounds more like engineered (though parquet can be thin).

Engineered flooring often moves as a single very large piece of wood, with movement only constrained by some cross band construction.
It needs a clear area ob all sides for movement, and pining the floor in place can result in buckling and failures.
Hardwood strip floors are not nearly as sensitive.
one edge of every tongue and groove strip is nailed in place, and movement takes place on the unfastened edge. The cracks in the floor pen and close throughout the year.
Since there is no significant movement in the length of the strips (paralleled to the 'grain') no allowance is needed there.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:29AM
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Samantha111

Yes it's engineered red oak. I thought I'd read that the engineered was less sensitive to humidity changes.

"It needs a clear area ob all sides for movement, and pining the floor in place can result in buckling and failures. "

This is what I don't understand. 1/2" is left on the borders to expand but the last three rows of wood near the wall are face nailed.

He did say the floor moves on the angled nails which I can understand how that would work but with the perimeter locked down on the vertical, it doesn't make sense to me how it will use that 1/2 space to expand into.

I see that the instructions do say the last few rows will have to be fastened by hand, either blind nailed or face nailed. So I guess I shouldn't worry if the manufacturer says its ok. I think they could have used an angle nailer so so many rows wouldn't have needed face nailing? Some of those nails are close to the surface. Does one usually need to go back and countersink some of them?

Honestly, I doubt they will ever even fill them. They are going to crawl all over the floor later looking for the face nails that need to be filled? They've already moved on to other things here.

So I'll know next summer when the humidity is high whether my floor will survive this installation?

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 7:16PM
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glennsfc

Thought you had solid strip there. Hopefully they're using a flooring nailer.

I agree, flooring should be fit net or a hairs breadth loose at a bathroom door saddle, especially if the floor area is small, as Floorman67 says.

If you can't get them to fill the nail holes and if they bother you, carefully countersink them yourself and fill with a matching filler.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:58PM
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Samantha111

"Hopefully they're using a flooring nailer."

We had trouble renting a floor nailer. Either broken or already out. They tried staples, the gun broke early on so it was returned. He said his regular nail gun was working fine so they went with that. I think it's a Bostitch.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 9:23PM
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glennsfc

You're probably going to be fine.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 9:25PM
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Samantha111

Half of the bathroom door is across from the bedroom door. So that portion does extend like a wide floor rather than having the other side of the hallway with an expansion gap.

Another thing that was handled oddly like the 1/2 inch gap at the bathroom door was at the bedroom closet. He cut all the boards off at the opening. I had a heart attack when I walked in to see my new floor. He said he was going to do a t-strip threshold because it was a little off and the board along the wall wouldn't be a full one. In the closet behind the clothes? So then we have to look at one of those tack on t-strips and not have a flat floor?

I've only seen thresholds done with a change of material. In older homes, I believe I've seen those full wooden ones at bedroom doors but usually hardwoods just run through the house in my experience.

I asked for a floor board to be placed across it instead which looks alright and I've seen that done before. I just can't believe someone would interrupt the floor with a t-strip so there could be a full board along the wall in a closet under the clothes. I would have hated to have that thing there. They said that's how it's done. People want full boards along their walls. I've been scared of them ever since, lol.

So now I guess it will buckle because there's no expansion gap for that board. lol.

So do you do a threshold for each room or area? I don't see how you could get a full board to be on each side of the room anyway.

How does a person avoid these types of situations without being there all the time to watch the workmen? Once that floor goes down, it's down. I would never think to ask about or specify things like that since I've never seen them done that way. Just looks like something went wrong to me.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:28PM
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Samantha111

Your thoughts?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 1:11AM
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Samantha111

They had to face nail some spots in the field. I don't think there are a lot but didn't check it out yet. Is this common to have to do that when something doesn't lay completely flat? It won't be a problem?

The old floors of the past were completely face nailed. I grew up with a 2" face nailed oak floor.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 1:35AM
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brickeyee

"The old floors of the past were completely face nailed. I grew up with a 2" face nailed oak floor."

Strip floors do not move the same way as engineered flooring.

Engineered floor often has cross grain construction to reduce the overall movement (compared to solid wood) but the entire area then moves as a single piece (AKA 'floating') and need room on all sides for movement.

Each separate piece of a strip floor moves independently, with the cracks between strips opening and closing through the year.

Wider boards move more than narrower boards, thus the use of narrower strips.

The force developed by the wood as its moisture content varies is huge.
If you fix a wide board it can split as it shrinks between the nails.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 10:18AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Stainless nails will be non-magnetic. Get a small rare-earth magnet and see if it sticks at a known face-nail location.
Casey

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 12:16PM
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Samantha111

I'm over the stainless thing. Glad it isn't a big deal. We read all sorts of things out here. Maybe a best practice but who can afford it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:01PM
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Samantha111

So as it turns out they installed the whole darn floor using 1-1/4" 18g finish nails (in the T&G). And got paid $7 SF for it. This was done with their regular pneumatic finish nailer.

The flooring stapler had jammed early on so they returned it and resorted to this method. He said it seemed to be working fine. I had no idea at the time what that meant in terms of fasteners. If I'd known he was using finish nails I'd have thought that was crazy and stopped it. I had explicitly stated that they follow the manufacturer's instructions. They have "laid lots of hardwoods before" in commercial construction.

3/8" 2-1/4" prefinished red oak.

Any hope for this floor?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:25PM
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Samantha111

How long does it typically take for problems to emerge?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 10:13PM
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Samantha111

They did use a good nailing schedule. Specs called for 3-4 inches and that's what I saw when I checked early on. Hopefully they didn't widen it later to pick up speed.

Do you think that close span will help?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 12:51AM
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brickeyee

"Stainless nails will be non-magnetic."

Not all stainless nails are non-magnetic.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 9:40AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

18 ga. brads are useless to hold flooring. What a FUBAR.

On the magnetic front, I just "tested" a stainless brad vs. a steel brad: The magnet picked up the steel from 1.5" vertical, while it grabbed the stainless one from Casey

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 12:30PM
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Samantha111

I know. It's not good and would be a disaster with a real floor if you could even do it. But did you see it's 3/8" 2-1/4"? Maybe they're thinking it's better than a floating one so shouldn't be a problem. They are in commercial construction and say it's stricter than residential.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 3:34PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

18 ga. brads have so little withdrawal resistance, shear strength and tiny head size. FAIL! unless they glued it down.
Casey

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Samantha111

No glue. I'm hoping if it becomes a crackling popping disaster down the road that those areas could have adhesive injected underneath to make it livable. But wow glue on a subfloor is a nightmare to undo. Hate to go there.

I honestly can't believe they did something like this. I had insisted they follow all manufacturer's instructions many times. They have to be complete idiots. The one guy said to me, who do you get for $2 SF when we were talking about the install. Unbelievable. Worse yet they were paid royally at about 2-3 times as much as it should have been if I didn't mention it. Probably worked out to about $7SF

I have to wonder why they're so cocky about their construction skills if they come up with this sort of stuff.
They think engineers live in a different world. I wish I had realized at the time what was going on with the fasteners. It's been very chaotic and stressful around here. I hope the worst is not yet to come.

So what exactly do you mean by FAIL and how long does it take to know?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:31PM
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Samantha111

Or I guess we would just do some face nailing like the old days. That would work wouldn't it?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:43PM
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brickeyee

"On the magnetic front, I just "tested" a stainless brad vs. a steel brad: "

Until you get another manufacturer's nails and they happen to use a different type of stainless with different hardening.

Not all stainless steels are magnetic, and not all are non-magnetic.

It has to do with composition and how the metal has been heat treated.

There are many hundreds of stainless steel alloys.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 2:21PM
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