Hardwood over Softwood? And old house dilemma...

asheavenueNovember 20, 2012

I have a 1909 house that has an issue. Well, one of many. The first floor has heart-pine flooring over a diagonal lumber subfloor. I repaired and refinished the floors, and am happy with the results. However, the second floor has no subfloor; it's just floorboards on joists. In general the pine is in pretty poor condition- nasty dark stain, and several areas where toungues have broken and the floor is squishy. . . Plus sound transmission is as bad as could be. I sanded and refinished one room in which the floor had been painted white, with mediocre results. Plus, sanding made the already thin floor even thinner. My initial thought is to install a new nail-down solid hardwood floor with a 1/4" cork underlayment over the entirety of the second level. The cork would be primarily for sound dampening. I know that some sort of ply would probably be recommended over the old floor, but even raising the floor 1" is going to make for some strange transitions around 3 fireplace surrounds (not to mention the top step of the stairs). I'm also not a huge fan of engineered/floating floors- I feel bad enough at the prospect of covering up the original floors- I don't want it looking like a condo. . .

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on my predicament.

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Hows thick is the old floor?

It sounds more like T&G sub-floor than anything intended as a finished floor.

You can put hardwood directly over it.

If it is "squishy" go for full 3/4 inch hardwood strip floor perpendicular to the joists.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 4:45PM
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It's the same flooring as the first floor: 2 1/2" x 3/4" tongue and groove heart pine. It's not a subfloor, unfortunately.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Yes, it's one of those single floor constructions...3/4" T&G fastened directly to the joists. Since the house is balloon frame construction, you might be safe just removing the existing T&G and installing new in place of it. That is what I would do, if it was my house. That way you change no finished height, the stair cadence is not affected and you can add sound deadening unfaced insulation in the cavity below. Any sound attenuation efforts are going to have minimal results whatever you decide to do.

If you decide to replace the single floor construction, make sure the strip flooring you purchase for the project is the longest lengths you can get and are milled for a good fit (you want as little 'play' in the T&G as you can get). Also, you may have to add some additional blocking here and there, especially adjacent to an exterior wall edge where there may not be sufficient support.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 10:02PM
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