Repair & Care
Gluedown Floor Tips
Our top rated tip would have to be cleanup or preparedness. I know it's been said before, but folks, it is extemely important. All hardwood flooring adhesives are a bugger to clean after they have cured and hardened. This is why we strongly recommend cleaning as you go with mineral spirits or the suggested cleaner by the manufacturer. Bostiks makes a very effective towel wipes in a container cleaner used with urethane type adhesives.
What Kind Of Trowel. Cleaning Tips
Trowels. Always follow the recommended specs by manufacturers. Typically for engineered glue downs, V notched trowels are suggested, but square notched ones as well, providing adequate coverage is followed. If you're not sure, measure how much area you've laid and divide by the number of gallons used. 45 square feet per gallon would be a safe range to stay within, but some manufacturers vary.
Sorry for hawking on this preparedness issue, but you'll find it will make your job much easier. If your installation extends over a period of a few days or weeks here's a neat tip in keeping the trowel clean. Duct tape the underside before you begin, keeping away from the notches. At the end of the day clean as much as possible from the trowel. The following day all you'll need to do is rip the tape off and you're pretty much ready to go. However, you will have to clean the teeth of dried adhesive with a utility knife.
Spreading The Adhesive
Now comes the fun part; getting that adhesive on the floor without making a major mess. With Bostiks there's a good chance once you open the container there will be a small film on top that cannot be used. It must be removed otherwise it causes clumping. Do so with a scrap piece of wood in the area you plan to spread. Remember, this stuff loves to ooze. Keep a scrap piece of cardboard next to the container where you can place the stuff once removed from the five gallon container.
Tilt the container (below) allowing the adhesive to spill out. Careful. Go slowly otherwise you'll have more than you want. Pour an amount, or one third that you'll need in the working area at one end. Having more than necessary can be difficult to spread as the adhesive is very thick in consistency. Use the trowel to stop the flow. Move the glue bucket behind you in the working area or place it on a piece of cardboard out of the working area.
It's important to spread the adhesive in a consistent manner trying to avoid misses and clumps or pools of adhesive. Having too much will cause problems when laying. Adhesive will squeeze between the boards, creating a cleanup chore you want to avoid. Keep an eye on your working area. Clean any boo-boos immediately, including adhesive that may get on the baseboard or outside the working area.
Dry Laying. Fitting Around Obstacles
If your installation runs into different areas other than one square room, fitting around door casings and the like should be done before you spread the adhesive. Termed dry-laying by professionals, prevent a lot of glue from getting into places you'd rather not want. This includes power tools. Folks, it can be very frustrating cutting and fitting a complicated piece four or five times with glue all over the place.
We suggest planning ahead on the installation. Normally you'll want to spread enough adhesive that can be covered in an hour or so. This doesn't mean you have to do 30" or 36" areas all the time. If you're nearing an area that looks like a lot of intricate cuts will be involved, measure and snap the chalk line a few boards short of that area and complete. At this time cut and dry lay the new areas. Once you have the desired fit, remove in an organized fashion (so you know what order to place them back) and proceed with trowling new adhesive in that area.
In one example, we installed enough area where it came one board width shy of a floor outlet (below). Using a comparable template to cut around the floor outlet, we dry laid it, removed the pieces, spread the adhesive and continued. In this case the outlet was in the middle of the room; the first four rows of the new area started around the outlet. Work both ways, right and left, instead of laying four complete rows across the room.
Keeping The Installation Tight - Minimize Gapping
Most DIY installations are obvious when looked at by a professional that does it everyday. A few very useful tips that will put you in their camp is how to install a tight floor and stagger the boards properly. Unfortunately some products may be milled so poorly our efforts may seem meaningless but we'll do our best.
Staggering should be considered at all times. Don't get distracted as it will happen once you start chewing the fat with your helper. Try not to repeat the location of end joints in the installation and keep adjacent joints as far apart as possible.
Avoid Working On Newly Completed Areas
If possible don't work on a newly completed area until the adhesive has had a chance to grab. This can take upwards of a few hours and more. Shifting weight and walking on completed areas will open up side and end joints unless you have the privilege of working with products that stay together more than others.
During and after installing areas, keep a close eye on boards that may separate. Some products that are loosely milled will do so with ease. Mentioned previously, keep a pry bar or wonder bar handy to close up end joints by prying carefully off the baseboard or drywall. Kicking them back into place is also useful, only if your wearing sneakers free of grit.
Another invaluable tip we use on many installations is using floor wedges. Fortunately, some of the better quality milled brands will make you look like a pro making this procedure unnecessary.
Once an area is complete, engage the wedge shown below via tongue and groove. Anchor another scrap piece just behind it and attach with a masonry nail or tapcon, tapping the wedge into place. This is the most useful method we've found for tightening up side gapping. Once everything is tight as you desire, use blue painters tape to keep it intact and remove the wedges carefully, not affecting the exposed edges of the completed sections. These pieces can be cut on the table saw at a preferred 30º angle. Tape should be removed after 24 hours.
Measuring That Last Board Against The Wall
Actually there is no need for a tape measure here. Take the piece you desire to use in that area and line it up with the last row installed (on top) Using another board, place it against the baseboard and scribe a line on the board you plan to use. This is especially useful where walls are not straight or are bowed in and out. Depending on how straight the cut is, a table or jig saw is the power tool of choice.
There's nothing worse than seeing a transition piece where it does not belong. Highly visible areas should be addressed to provide the best appearance. In this case marble thresholds were used at every bathroom door opening. Depending on what may be common in your locale, these thresholds may not be used and an ordinary T-molding will work. In our example net fitting to the threshold was appropriate.
Look around at other areas where this method would look more attractive. Exterior door openings is another highly visible area. Placing quarter round or similar always looks unsightly. In some cases you can go under door thresholds with the installation by removing and re-installing them. Careful that it's sealed to the weather elements once re-installed.
Changing Direction Of An Installation
In some cases a direction change may be preferred, especially if you have long hallways that spill into other rooms.
With directional changes the preference is to handle the transition without creating any vertical height differences or by not using any moldings. By way of explanation, we want to maintain a flow without one board being higher than another. By not doing so, premature wear and splintering can occur. For a simple change running perpendicular it can be as easy as connecting by tongue and groove. Let's say the finished area has the groove facing out. Simply insert the end pieces (with tongue side) into the groove and you have a firm connection. The new area is now connected and running perpendicular.
Things get a little different if you want the new to run off on an angle shown above. In this case the existing had the groove facing out again. However by cutting 45 degree angles on the new boards the tongues were lost. Grooves have to be milled by way of a router and slot cutting bit into the new cutoffs. Now we have two grooves and no tongues. This is where slip tongues (splines) come into play. More on slip tongues and reversing direction with our pages on nail down floors.
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