Dec 13 , 2018
Shop for a pine style you love
Pine floors look even better as they age.
Pine floors are available in a variety of widths and grades. Longleaf Southern pine, or “heart pine,” is known for its dense, amber heartwood. It comes in a variety of widths and grades. It can be clear (knot-free) with a tight, straight grain, or it can include more character such as small or large knots. This 3/4-in. thick solid plank flooring is milled with a tongue and groove. The ends of boards can also have a tongue and groove. This feature is called end-matching. The joints between these boards can fall between joists, but you wouldn’t face-nail these ends. This would change the look somewhat.
Order a sample kit from a supplier to help choose the exact material you want. Prices vary depending on the pine’s source, grade and width, with the antique pine being the most expensive. We recommend material that requires little or no sanding.
We chose 10-in. wide, new heart pine with 50 to 80 percent heart content and without end matching. See “Pine Flooring Options” for more details.
Work through key layout details before getting started
Pine flooring cross section
The 3/4-in.-thick solid plank flooring shown is milled with a tongue and groove. The tongue-and-groove pine flooring must run perpendicular to the floor joists. To keep the wide boards from cupping, you’ll face-nail them with cut nails driven through the subfloor and into the joists (Photo 18). For the best results, draw the floor plan to scale and lay out rows of boards (Fig. A). Shift the layout as needed to avoid very narrow pieces at the walls or at other features like around the fireplace. Later you’ll transfer your plan to the floor and snap chalk lines at about 3-ft. intervals to keep the rows running straight.
Calculate the square footage of the room and add 10 to 15 percent to allow for selection and waste. It’s better to have a few leftover pieces than to pay the shipping for one or two additional boards. Also order the cut nails and the oil finish. The supplier will advise on the amounts needed. There may be an additional fee for shipping. Schedule delivery early so the flooring can acclimate indoors to your home’s moisture level. This is a very important step.Store the wood on location for at least 10 days. To keep wood floors stable, try to maintain close to 50 percent relative humidity in your home year-round.
Draw the room’s floor plan to scale.
- Draw the centerline of the room.
- Lay out the board runs using their actual width.
- The board at the wall should be at least half width. If necessary, shift the boards half a board width at the centerline.
- Avoid thin slivers. For example, note the notched board at the hearth.
Note: You can download and enlarge this plan by going to the Additional Information below.
Pine flooring options
You can buy heart pine flooring in a variety of widths and grades. Stain it or leave it natural and topcoat it with an oil or varnish. Most people prefer a clear oil finish. The pine will develop a slightly darker patina with age and exposure to light. Four things to look for in heart pine flooring:
- Antique vs. new. Antique pine flooring is milled from salvaged timbers, and compared with new pine, will typically have tighter grain and a darker color. Antique flooring can also have nail holes and other signs of distress.
- New- vs. old-growth. Most new pine will come from plantation or managed-growth trees, which means fewer growth rings per inch and less density than pine cut from old-growth trees. Boards cut from old-growth trees will have a grain more similar to that of the antique pine.
- Heart content. The wood at the center of the tree (heart) is darker than the wood at the outside of the tree (sapwood). Heart content is measured as a percentage of the total board. Consider buying pine with at least 75 to 80 percent heart.
- Clear vs. knots. Boards are graded from clear (no knots) to large knots. Tight knots add interesting character to the pine floor.
Pry up the floor and underlayment
Carefully pry the baseboard and door trim from the wall and set it aside. Then remove the floor covering and underlayment (if you have any) to get to the subfloor. Underlayment is a layer of plywood or particleboard often found under carpet or vinyl. Now is the time to do repair work on the subfloor. Remove the existing floor covering and pry up the underlayment with a pry bar, leaving the subfloor intact. Pull all protruding nails. Walk the floor to check for loose or squeaky spots in the subfloor. To tighten the subfloor, drive 2-in. screws into the joists.