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Old 06-27-2013, 12:53 AM   #1
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Thoughts on solid wood flooring?

I am moving a section of a thread I started regarding a 1975 31' Sovereign restoration project I started today to this forum to help with feedback. To explain my reasons for solid wood, i own a furniture manufacturing plant and have a good re-saw to slice the hardwood much thinner than would be typically used in a commercial or residential condition. Feed back, good and bad, will be appreciated. Here it is cut and pasted.....


New floor......Old plywood subfloor is sound.
I plan to use my furniture factory's rough mill to resaw cherry, mahogany, or perhaps maple. I fear the fact that maple will "spalt" or stain when wet and I have a lot of beatiful mahogany in stock and it holds up well in wet environments. I'm actually planing to buck the trend and glue down 1/4" solid wood directly to the existing 3/4 fir plywood deck. I'll use Franklin Tightbond II PVA glue and stainless brads. The expansion and shrinkage should be minimal and I'm starting with a VERY high ambient humidity. I'll do "soak coats" of thined spar varnish to seal and then several full strength coats to finish. The weight will be no more than an engineered floor or carpet/pad because I will resaw it relatively thin.....
Ok, now fire away at the pro and cons but it will be durable and gorgeous.

I am supplying our local boat building museum with mahogany and I have been getting in some gorgeous dark rich figured 8/4" that will look great book matched. I can get about 6 cuts at 1/4" finished per 2" thick board. I'll do three and four inch widths. Some boards are 20' long!
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:25 AM   #2
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I would say the only concern I would have is; what happens when (not if) you develop a leak...or leaks...and the water gets between your sub-floor and beautiful nailed-down solid wood floor? Not only would it be difficult to determine the extent of damage, but would be a major undertaking to remove the wood floor and make repairs. Although as a flooring installer, I would prefer a glued/nailed floor too...I think I am going to go with a floating floor...perhaps cork...to save myself potential headaches down the road.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:24 AM   #3
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The water getting trapped between the floor covering and the sub floor is always an issue with any floor covering. My bet would be Mahogany because it is water tolerant. I would use it where you can see it and leave the floor under beds and cabinets bear. The way these old Airstreas are designed, any water leaks will come out in the corners where there is a gap in the C-channel that holds the shell to the floor and frame. There is also a BIG leak problem as the back where the plate at the back of the bumper goes under the shell. If you can do something to mitigate leaks in these areas you should be fine. Leaks are hard to eliminate entirely and then there are condensation issues. What some of us have done is bridge the gap in the C-channel and also put in drains. This will require removing the lower interior skins. If you have a way to monitor these areas with a moisture meter etc., you can dry these areas out when they get wet and look for leaks.

I wish I had access to your furniture factory. 1/4 planks sounds about right. Floors in these old trailers sag and flexe between crossmembers. I would consider putting the flooring from front to back to help reduce this. Painting or coating the sub floor helps with moisture penetration issues.

100% sealing of the planks would help with water penetration. Too bad the whole sub floor is not made of mahogany and you would not have any rot issues. If I were doing a shell off, I would make the floor out of mahogany plywood and use that as my floor. This would make an awsome looking floor and you can see any problems as they happen instead of 10 yrs or so later when the tail falls off your Airstream.


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Old 06-27-2013, 07:31 AM   #4
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I think solid wood is great. My daughter works at a very nice rowing club in Connecticut. They built their very high end building using strips of teak and mahogany for the floors and it looks great. Nice contrast too. Just adding something to think about since you have resources that most of us don't have access to.

I say, " Go for it ". Only hesitation is the glueing. Doesn't give you much room to re-do just in case it needs to be removed.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:56 AM   #5
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We just finished redoing our 65 with mahogany and love it. It's the random pattern that attracted us plus it matches our mahogany cabinetry. It is a floating floor so easy to lift if needed. I agree with Perry I would not cover under cabinets, beds, couches, etc. JMO.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:26 AM   #6
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My pergo can not compete with the beauty of these real wood floors but when Jackson Center installed it they put luan under the pergo and glued the pergo to it. The luan is floating on the subfloor. all cabinets and dinett were removed sink and stove cabinet stayed in place.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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Do like the boat builders do and glue the mahogany to the substrate with epoxy. You can hold it down with weights while the glue cures and save yourself a million nail holes to fill.

I use teak or Garapa in my boats and don't bother with any finish at all, just a wipe with teak oil. This would work with mahogany fine but wouldn't be as shiny. It would be less slippery and much easier to repair dings.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:14 PM   #8
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I think you could probably make the wood just about water proof at 1/4" thickness by using some penetrating epoxy before installation. Probably would need epoxy for attachment then. Not sure the maple would spalt....needs some bacteria from the soil to do that. I think I would leave some areas on the perimeter to monitor for water. Maybe some trim attached with velcro so that moisture can be easily checked for.

If you do the thinned spar varnish are you doing both sides before installation? I think finishing both sides would make it much more stable.

If you have the time I would recommend trying some different finish approaches and see how they are after some climate changes. Purposely change temperature and humidity levels and see what kind of changes happen.....shrinkage, cupping etc.

I agree with not running under cabinets etc.

It sounds like a great project. Looking forward to seeing pics of the results.

Tim your floor looks great!

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Old 06-27-2013, 08:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arktos55343 View Post
I would say the only concern I would have is; what happens when (not if) you develop a leak...or leaks...and the water gets between your sub-floor and beautiful nailed-down solid wood floor? Not only would it be difficult to determine the extent of damage, but would be a major undertaking to remove the wood floor and make repairs. Although as a flooring installer, I would prefer a glued/nailed floor too...I think I am going to go with a floating floor...perhaps cork...to save myself potential headaches down the road.
I am going to seal the sub floor with a spar varnish/ mineral spirits wash soak coat. Then glue down the solid wood and do a saturating wash coat over this. Then sand and apply as you would on a boat or bar top with three or four full strength coats.
.My thought is that if I have to cut or remove a section of floor for access or replacement, I wouldn't remove mahogany but instead I'd treat It like the sub floor and cut right through the mahogany and plywood. If it was to access the undercarriage I may even creat a screw down hatch. Replacement should not be hard as I patch in floors all the time.
By the way, my 36" resaw has a thin kerf blade and I can get 6 cuts out of 8/4" mahogany and net around 1/4". Based on doing the whole floor with cabinets and appliances removed it should take about 50 board feet at just under 5$ per board feet or $250 worth of solid wood. One of my guys and I should be able to knock instal out in a day???
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
The water getting trapped between the floor covering and the sub floor is always an issue with any floor covering. My bet would be Mahogany because it is water tolerant. I would use it where you can see it and leave the floor under beds and cabinets bear. The way these old Airstreas are designed, any water leaks will come out in the corners where there is a gap in the C-channel that holds the shell to the floor and frame. There is also a BIG leak problem as the back where the plate at the back of the bumper goes under the shell. If you can do something to mitigate leaks in these areas you should be fine. Leaks are hard to eliminate entirely and then there are condensation issues. What some of us have done is bridge the gap in the C-channel and also put in drains. This will require removing the lower interior skins. If you have a way to monitor these areas with a moisture meter etc., you can dry these areas out when they get wet and look for leaks.

I wish I had access to your furniture factory. 1/4 planks sounds about right. Floors in these old trailers sag and flexe between crossmembers. I would consider putting the flooring from front to back to help reduce this. Painting or coating the sub floor helps with moisture penetration issues.

100% sealing of the planks would help with water penetration. Too bad the whole sub floor is not made of mahogany and you would not have any rot issues. If I were doing a shell off, I would make the floor out of mahogany plywood and use that as my floor. This would make an awsome looking floor and you can see any problems as they happen instead of 10 yrs or so later when the tail falls off your Airstream.

Perry
The only place I found a small spot of "punky" or "spongy" floor is exactly where you described in the back. ( I have the mid ships bathroom.)
I see you think leaving bulkheads and cabinets in place is the way to go. I realize I'd be raising them a 1/4" and would have to drill new rivet holes in outer walls. Is this frowned on? My thoughts were to pull everything to inspect and update so as a benefit I could install floor much easier. Yes, I am running wood front to back and I like the drain idea.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by tkasten View Post
We just finished redoing our 65 with mahogany and love it. It's the random pattern that attracted us plus it matches our mahogany cabinetry. It is a floating floor so easy to lift if needed. I agree with Perry I would not cover under cabinets, beds, couches, etc. JMO.
That's GORGEOUS, My floor will be a mix of longer pieces as my material is all 12' to 20' long. Why not cover underneath if I'm pulling anyway?
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mcdenny View Post
Do like the boat builders do and glue the mahogany to the substrate with epoxy. You can hold it down with weights while the glue cures and save yourself a million nail holes to fill.

I use teak or Garapa in my boats and don't bother with any finish at all, just a wipe with teak oil. This would work with mahogany fine but wouldn't be as shiny. It would be less slippery and much easier to repair dings.
Hmmmm I like the low maintenance of the oiled finish?...
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by VTSafari View Post
I think you could probably make the wood just about water proof at 1/4" thickness by using some penetrating epoxy before installation. Probably would need epoxy for attachment then. Not sure the maple would spalt....needs some bacteria from the soil to do that. I think I would leave some areas on the perimeter to monitor for water. Maybe some trim attached with velcro so that moisture can be easily checked for.

If you do the thinned spar varnish are you doing both sides before installation? I think finishing both sides would make it much more stable.

If you have the time I would recommend trying some different finish approaches and see how they are after some climate changes. Purposely change temperature and humidity levels and see what kind of changes happen.....shrinkage, cupping etc.

I agree with not running under cabinets etc.

It sounds like a great project. Looking forward to seeing pics of the results.

Tim your floor looks great!

Bill
I had some maple trim in one of my offshore boats I renovated and where water could Whicker into the end grain it began to spalt a bit.
I love and use West System Epoxy. Franklin Tightbond II is water resistant and served me very well on above waterline applications on my boats inside. I also use it on chop blocks I make.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:22 PM   #14
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I'd say go for it. By bonding a thin layer to the plywood, you are basically creating a 1" think ply with the upper surface being the money.

I glued in a floor in a class A rv and had no problems over 20,000 miles.

My gut says dry the planks very well so they don't move /shrink after the fact
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