Rare Wood News

6 Reclaimed Wood Flooring Installation Mistakes to Avoid.

A beautiful heart pine reclaimed wood installation in a den and kitchen brings old-world charm to a new construction.

Sourcing great quality reclaimed wood for your flooring project is only half the job. Reclaimed wood flooring installation is an art in and of itself. Here are some common installation mistakes to avoid.

Reclaimed Wood Flooring Installation: 6 Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve sourced just the right grade of beautiful reclaimed wood for your renovation or new build flooring—but that’s only the first step. Just as important is a deft, meticulous installation job that brings out the unique character of your reclaimed wood floor.

Reclaimed wood flooring installation is a combination of art, careful planning, and execution. Whether you’re working with a professional or doing the work yourself, here are six common wood flooring mistakes to avoid to make the most of your investment in reclaimed wood flooring.

1. Don’t Skimp on Your Subfloor

Your subfloor is critical to making sure your reclaimed wood floor presents as beautifully as it should. So take the time to ensure your existing subfloor is solid, undamaged, and not warped or subsiding. For new build projects, don’t think you can skimp on subfloor quality just because you won’t see the subfloor!

Use the best quality wood products you can afford to avoid swelling and warping when exposed to moisture. Work with professional installers or structural engineers to ensure your subfloor is sound. This will help extend the life of your reclaimed wood floor by avoiding problems such as creaking, sinking, and uneven surfaces.

2. Moisture Content: Make Sure to Manage It

Wood is a living product that swells and shrinks as it absorbs and releases moisture. A well-executed installation needs to take this into account at every step. It’s most important to ensure that your entire reclaimed wood stock and sub-flooring contain consistent moisture contents during installation.

Forgetting to account for moisture levels in wood can cause several problems, including:

  • Gapping — While small gaps will widen and close slightly as your floor “breathes,” permanent gaps can appear if moisture levels are inconsistent during installation.
  • Compression set — Boards that swell against others can become crushed. When the boards dry out and shrink, this deformation remains, leading to uneven gapping.
  • Panelization — A section of floor can develop abnormal gaps related to movement or swelling in the sub-floor beneath it, especially around heating vents and water pipes.
  • Sidebonding — Inconsistent gaps between boards that have shrunk but are still partially bonded together by finishes, particularly by water-based products or adhesive used in glue-down installations.

Moisture levels can be kept consistent by:

  • Installing floors in the spring and fall when humidity levels are not too high or low
  • Acclimatizing flooring by storing it on-site for several days before installation
  • Using a moisture meter to check that wood stocks have similar moisture contents

3. Don’t Assume Your Rooms are Square

While good milling will make your reclaimed floor as square as possible, that doesn’t mean the rest of your house is. Every building has slightly bowed walls and angles that aren’t square, which can be severe in older homes. The long straight lines of hardwood flooring can accentuate these imperfections if not placed thoughtfully.

Measuring rooms carefully can help avoid:

  • Sight-lines that call attention to bowed or out-of-square walls
  • Unsightly angles where board ends meet
  • Awkward rip cuts to make boards fit

4. Crooked Boards

Even with careful measuring, you can still end up with flooring that doesn’t line up with your walls. This can happen if:

  • Flooring slips out of alignment during installation; small errors can quickly be compounded as boards are added
  • Foot traffic is allowed onto glue-down installations before the adhesive has had time to set
  • Flooring is added to an existing floor without checking it is straight
  • Reclaimed wood flooring is poorly milled with crooked edges or board ends

5. Bad Racking

Racking refers to the order in which boards are laid and is the heart of the wood floorer’s art. A good racker will plan out an entire project before nailing down a single board to allow the whole floor layout to be seen ahead of time. The racker will then use a mix of standard and shorter beams to create a seamless, seemingly random placement of beam ends and intersections.

Among other problems, bad racking can often result in:

  • Beam ends that line up too closely
  • Groups of right angles or beam ends in conspicuous places
  • Boards laid crossways rather than lengthways in narrow spaces

6. Too Few Nails

Make sure lots of nails are used during your reclaimed wood flooring installation to accommodate for shrinking and expanding throughout the seasons.

Think you have enough nails laid? Think again! Even if it seems solid today, the floor will expand and shrink with the seasons. The more nails you have in place, the better to keep everything locked down for years. Trust us and do the extra work now—you’ll be grateful every time you don’t hear a creak!

Get Reclaimed Wood Floors Right With E.T. Moore

Most common flooring mistakes can be avoided by working with a respected flooring supplier like E.T. Moore. As reclaimed wood specialists, we have over 50 years of experience in successfully matching quality reclaimed stock with existing flooring.

We offer an unrivaled on-site selection of reclaimed wood products including:

  • Several varieties of heart pine
  • Old-growth Tidewater red cypress
  • Eastern white pine
  • Antique hemlock and spruce

All of our reclaimed woods are milled to the highest standard and stored indoors at our five-acre facility in Richmond, Virginia, to ensure quality and manage moisture content.

Click below to learn about how E.T. Moore can help you nail down a great reclaimed wood floor!

Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Author Taylor Moore III
Date June 30, 2022