Flooring Pre 1950's Suggestions Please

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by epr25, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. epr25

    epr25 Practically Family

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    My husband and I were very very lucky to find a gem of a house last week. It was lived in by a gentleman that lived to be in his 90's. The house was built in the 1890's and remolded in the 50's. Perfect right! The house largely is great. But there's unfortunate carpet in the living and dining room. We were going to remove the carpet and refinish the wood floors. This does not appear to be possible due to the way the sub-flooring was installed for the carpet. We don't want carpet again. Ideally we would want a linoleum rug but that's not going to be possible (I have looked all over the internet and can't come up with anything!) there is nice original looking linoleum but it's kind of high priced. So I thought I would just ask if anyone might have any other suggestions.
     
  2. Atticus Finch

    Atticus Finch Call Me a Cab

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    I'm not sure if I understand. Sub-flooring is what is beneath the material used to make the floor. Nowadays, it is normally ¾ inch plywood or Advantech. In 1890, it was typically 1X6 or 1x8 pine boards laid diagonally to the direction of the flooring. Carpet is normally placed directly on the flooring...not the sub-flooring.

    What material was used to floor your house? In 1890 it was often T&G 1X2 or 1X4 oak or clear pine. Even in the fifties T&G hardwood was common. It would seem that you could refininsh the flooring once your carpet is removed, regardless of how the sub-floor is constructed.

    AF
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
  3. Atticus Finch

    Atticus Finch Call Me a Cab

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    There is a method of flooring where hardwood is used around the parameter of the room and plywood is used in the center beneath a permanent carpet. Of course, this reduces the amount of hardwood needed to floor the home. Is this how your floor is made?

    AF
     
  4. epr25

    epr25 Practically Family

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    I forgot to mention that the sub flooring is under the carpet, nailed to the original wood flooring. But the kicker is that it's nailed every 3" so a couple thousand nails.


     
  5. Justin B

    Justin B One Too Many

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    Ah, so they laid plywood over the original floor. Even though it'd be a pain, I'd still pull all those nails and get back to the original flooring.
     
  6. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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    Plywood underlayment under carpet suggest that the original floors were not in good condition. Carpet may be laid directly over some pretty rough, splintered flooring. Now if the underlayment was originally covered with tile or linoleum and THEN carpeted then the original floor may well have been in good condition, and after you and you husband spend a week pulling underlayment nails you may well be able to restore your original floor.
     
  7. MPicciotto

    MPicciotto Practically Family

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    You might see about pulling up one piece of plywood say in a high traffic area like a doorway to determine the floor condition below. I don't know what your budget is or your level of DIY skills but nothing about flooring is cheap nor easy. Wish you luck.

    Matt
     
  8. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    That is brutal. Plywood held down by ring nails every 3". Almost impossible to remove and if you do it is going to damage the flooring underneath. Which was probably cheap pine boards.

    Best answer is a new floor on top. Hardwood, varnished. Or soft wood like pine, painted with an area rug or Turkish carpet in the middle of the room.

    This is a normal thing by the way. I have renovated an old house from the mid 19th century that had a layer of carpet, a layer of linoleum, a layer of 1952 newspapers (underlay for the linoleum), a layer of older linoleum, a layer of 1926 newspapers, a layer of tongue and groove boards, another layer of pine boards, this time wide plain cut ones. All in 1 bedroom.

    The kitchen might have even more layers.

    Parlor, 2 layers of hardwood over 3 layers of softwood. The boards getting wider the farther down you go.

    So don't feel bad about adding another layer, it's traditional and expected.

    A lot depends on your decor, what era and style you are going for. Parquet hardwood was popular when your house was built. If you ask around some flooring stores you can get a deal on close outs, end of line merchandise etc. Often more than half off but make sure you get enough material to finish the job, it may be impossible to get more if you need it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
  9. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    This is a little off the topic, but...

    One house I did up, was built in the 1870s. The original flooring was tongue and groove red pine 1" thick. I wanted to repair a damaged section with matching wood. Only one lumber yard had suitable material -it was a special thick tongue and groove pine board for making horse stalls. It was a perfect match for the original material except it was white pine. This did not matter as I was putting down linoleum.
     
  10. Atticus Finch

    Atticus Finch Call Me a Cab

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    I agree. I installed pre-finished hickory in my great room last year. The cost was more than carpet, but not completely out of reach. Laid it right over the existing floor.

    AF
     
  11. epr25

    epr25 Practically Family

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    My skill level is passable, I follow instructions well. But my husband is a carpenter by trade so his skills are great thankfully. Judging from the other rooms that have had the carpet removed it really looks like the floors weren't ever finished. We can't find any indication that they were. We're going to go with the painted wood floor in 2 rooms. We would also do that in the lr and dr but we're concerned about damaging the floor while trying to remove the nails like Stanley mentioned above. We haven't even looked under the carpet in the kitchen heaven only know what's under there! In the upstairs there are 2 small bedrooms that have the original linoleum that with the exception of the entryways is in great shape. We are leaving those in place. I am a printer by trade and I have material that is used on floors so my thought was to print some sort of a decorative arc or something like that to cover the damage in the entry and to secure it from future damage. We should have a thread chronicling our trials while renovating our vintage homes.
     
  12. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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  13. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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    I would love to see before, during, and after pics of your project.
     
  14. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    The plywood floor would be easier if you cut saw kerfs to indicate the boards and laid it in sheets.

    It would help to know what era or style you were after. 50s style would include "broadloom" or "wall to wall carpet" and vinyl tile or cushion floor in the kitchen, bath, and laundry room.
     
  15. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    Agreed, however by cutting it into board length, you are able to mix and match and get the look of classic wood floors where the grains do not match up. Plus it is a lower cost alternative to laminate flooring.
     
  16. epr25

    epr25 Practically Family

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    The house was remodeled in the early 50's so that would be our time period. I will show the plywood floors to my husband. In the upstairs and the hall there are built in cabinets that are plywood. That could be a cool tie in to the those.
     
  17. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    Early fifties floors would be broadloom and tile.
     
  18. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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    well, yes and no. Some folks were still using linoleum, and many homes were yet being built with hardwood floors, on which were placed large area rugs, perhaps plain, perhaps bark-cloth, perhaps what we would today call a "deco" pattern. Chenille rugs were popular in rooms with "modern" furnishings, particularly with blonde woods. Fake fur was just becoming available, and was very occasionally used in really ultra-stylish modern interiors.

    Under the carpets wood floors were still common in mid-range and better construction, but in addition to matched strip flooring there was now the new engineered floors. One very popular alternative would have been a floor made up of 6" or 9" plywood squares, each laid with the grain at right angles to its neighbor, in the same style as with asphalt tile. Oak (rotary cut) plywood seemed to be most popular, probably because of its durability, but rotary cut fir was not unknown
     
  19. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    I know lino was popular but didn't the questioner say she didn't want to use it?

    The plywood parquet squares, I had forgotten about them. Going back to the thread above, you can buy plywood with hardwood veneers on them which could be cut into squares and used like the plywood board described above.

    One problem is that many of the products are no longer available in their original form so you have to get a bit creative.
     
  20. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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    When you mention tile, note that at times I have taken common Armstrong Excelon tiles and cut them down on a Radial Arm Saw, either to match the size of the old 9" Asphalt tiles, or into 4" or 3 1/4" squares in pretty reasonable imitation of some inlaid linoleum patterns of the 'teens and 'twenties.

    Ceramic tile was not really in fashion to any great extent, though six-inch quarry tiles were occasionally found in California Ranch living rooms. The broadloom carpets of 1950 were a bit expensive and were not ubiquitous as they became by the end of the decade. Broadloom carpet is also problematic in this situation since modern carpets differ so very much in structure, pattern and texture from those available sixty-odd years ago.

    The parquet tiles made up of 1/4" oak plywood may well be both the simplest and cheapest solution to re-creating early 1950's modern middle-class floors.

    Now those unfinished old floors suggest that the house may have originally been carpeted. The carpets used between the '90's and the '20's would have been woven in 27 inch wide strips, seamed together with carpet thread and laid with common carpet tacks. The best rooms might have had a patterned Ingrain, a flat-woven carpet along the lines of a tapestry, which was reversible. A less expensive alternative would have been a "granite carpet", woven like an ingrain, but with cotton warp and weft, and not nearly as durable, though still reversible. Lesser rooms would have been fitted with either rag or fiber (jute) carpets.

    When area rugs were desired in rooms with unfinished floors a floor edging could be had in yard-wide rolls. This was a cheap felt-backed floor covering, akin to "Congoleum" or "Quaker Rugs" which was printed in imitation of polished hardwood.

    Here is a link to a floorcovering sale of 1915, which pretty well describes the sort of stuffs available to the early owners of your home: http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...-4wtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eJ0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3481,829442
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013

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