Personal tools
log in | join | help
Sections

Modern flooring option

by Jason Hammond last modified Dec 17, 2007 10:58 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)
Click to change your rating: (not rated)
  worthless bad average good great



 

 

Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at May 05. 2007
I was looking for a cool alternative to traditional hard word flooring and my architect suggested that we use plywood cut to 4x4 squares and laid with alternating grain direction. Here's an image of his flooring in his house. I think it's really striking.
http://www.startribune.com/blogs/newhouse/

Does anyone else have any simple yet cool solutions like this that work for flooring in a modern home?

Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Chris Brown at May 06. 2007
The Luminhaus had 4x8 stained plywood boards screwed in the corners that I thought looked great (my wife didn't like them as much). You can make it out in the pic on the front page: http://www.luminhaus.com/

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at May 06. 2007

That's a great house. I can't tell what type of wood was used for the flooring. We're using Birch which is fairly prevalent in our area so is reasonable. We also have a slab on grade for part of the house that we plan to just polish for a final finish. I'm looking forward to the contrast of materials.


Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Dara at May 07. 2007

Using plywood is a neat idea.

We're also trying to decide what type of flooring to do in a house we're building and are considering staining an unfinished hardwood a gray or other color. Since there are so many stains to choose from, it seems we can do something different from the usual hardwood finishes. We also considered staining a bamboo floor another color, but apparently that doesn't work well.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by GeorgeW at May 08. 2007
To reteriate above. Using plywood is a great idea. But caution is, like veneered floors, you cannot do normal sanding as on solidwoods, if you hope to refinish it later. On the other hand, you may like the look of well worn playwood surface!. If you do like the look and the above doesnt bother you, there are ways to you can do to esnure a more reselient floor. - Make sure the top layer is a hardwood. This gives you a tougher layer, that may take abuse easier and wouldnt need refinishing any time soon.(though less than other made for floor plys ie Teragren) - Also using a good Quality floor finish would help. Again making it long lasting I do love using plywood, and sometimes the design intent justifies the sacrifice!

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at May 08. 2007

If you regularly use a surface sealer on the floors you shouldn't have too many issues. The ones shown in the photo (are as you mentioned  a birch hardwood) I believe are 4or5 years old and look wonderful.



Jason



Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at May 14. 2007
Many discussions about this topic on the board here. Do a search and you'll find a lot of info. For me, I am going to use MDF cut into 4x4 squares in my kid's rooms. I may stain them different colors, then seal them. I'm too concerned about the veneer layer on plywood to use it, especially in kids rooms. With MDF, there is no wear layer and they can beat the heck out of it - no worries. -R.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at May 14. 2007

If you want you can up the price a little and go with a baltic birch plywood 1/2" rather than 3/4 plywood and not have to worry about he issues with wear as much. I'm sure MDF would look great stained as well. We've even considered using HDPE on some parts of the house.


Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by liz hedrick at June 06. 2007

I definitely like the look of the plywood, and we were thinking of doing the same thing in our house. We have three layers of plywood as the subfloor and were thinking of putting a thin layer of baltic birch ply directly on top.

Do you have any more recommendations about attachment methods and finishing the floor? From the photo of the Luminhous, I couldn't see the screws in the corners that Chris wrote about earlier in the discussion.

Thanks!

Liz

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at June 06. 2007

My contractor is having the lumber yard cut the wood tongue and groove and then we are going to glue down the panels. My Architect actually had the lumber yard cut grooves into all 4 sides of the sheets and then used a biscuit style method using 1/4 thick strips melamine to attach the sheets together. He used glue for most but did strategically nail in some of the heavy traffic areas.


I've heard some concern from one of our subs that the type of plywood sheeting that's available today uses thinner sheets of veneer for the top piece which puts it at risk of getting easily damaged. I think your ideas of using a thinner sheet of Baltic birch is a really smart one and one we are considering as well.


Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by darrel at June 09. 2007

Baltic birch sounds great, but exensive.


This home on the home tour:


http://msphometour.com/homes/?home=113


Had this great flooring upstairs. It was-end-grain laminate, I think Oak.  Something I had never seen before.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at June 10. 2007

I think the trick with the baltic birch would be to actually use 5/8 vs 3/4 so you save on some cost of the material. I can't see any images of the floor on the link you provided but the place looks like it's nice.


Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by uncleho at June 16. 2007

Richierod,

After ~10 years of learning and dreaming I'm still stuck on MDF, too. 4'x4' also... though I may get SILLY and rip planks of MDF and make patterns.

Anyways... how do you plan on dealing with the JOINTS? I'm going to make ~1/8" chamfers on all edges to minimize the eventual unevenness visible if left sharp edged, but I'm not quite clear if I should caulk or lay some rubber sealer or such. All "tiles" of MDF will be screwed only at the corners, but I don't know what the expansion rates would do if set at tight butt joints.

Plywood con = Depending on the species, it could be SOFT and easily dented. I did a nonscientific test years back where I got all manner of alternative floor material (from bamboo to MDF to CFB to plywood to strawboard to god only knows) together and dropped untensils (sharp ends down) on them from counter height to judge damage and MDF won by a long shot for wood-based. The CFB is obviously champ, but there is a HUGE variety in the "species" of CFB.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at June 23. 2007
UncleHo - I like your idea about a small chamfer... hadn't thought of that. Since I live in SoCal, I am going to take a chance and butt them together. We don't have much weather here, and that is a good thing for expansion/contraction issues. People seem to be concerned about dimensional issues, but I believe the main benefit of MDF and plywood - at least in furniture building - is the fact that it is WAY more stable than wood. It is used as a substrate for veneers, after all. As I said, I'm going to butt them, and if I have buckling issues, what the heck, it's $25 for 32 sq ft! -R.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at June 24. 2007

My GC has a small lumber yard that will cut all the sheets tongue and groove so that it our intended approach. My architect actually just had a 1/4 groove cut into all sides and then used a 1/4 sheet of melamine to hold the sheets together ans it looks great.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at July 03. 2007
UncleHo - I put the floor down a couple of days ago - it looks great! Thanks for the chamfer idea, it really helps the floor. I laid the 4' x 4' tiles in a diagonal pattern, screwed then plugged, in each corner with a dollop of construction adhesive in the middle. Everything is butted together. I have only one slight issue of uneveness between two tiles in over 300 sq ft of floor, so I think that's fine. The MDF is hard as rock, and that's great for a kid's floor. I'm going to seal it with Zinsser's SealCoat and then lay down a finish, perhaps Bona's Traffic. When all is said and done I'll upload some pics. Again, thanks for the chamfer idea! -R.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at July 04. 2007

exciting! I can't wait to see how it looks. With the seal coating on it I would guess the MDF looks really beautiful.


Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at August 28. 2007
Hey! Sorry it's taken so long to post this - things have been hectic around here what with trying to finish everything and move in and watch the kids..... So far, really happy with the floors, not so happy with the product we used to finish them. We're in L.A., and we have a very stringent VOC cap here, seems good stuff is hard to come by. Tried to find a retailer for the Bona Traffic but no luck, ran out of time and tried a product by someone else. It doesn't resist scratching very well. Oh well, it's the kid's rooms. People are always commenting on the floors and how much they like them and what are they. Someone thought they were cement - not a bad guess considering how many cement products are in my house - but it got me to thinking. What if you were to stain the MDF so it comes across as gray or a dark gray. With the even "grain" pattern, you might think it was concrete, definitely worth looking into - especially with all the discussions here regarding cement floors over raised foundations, etc. where weight and cracking is an issue. MDF will certainly not have those problems... For me, I sealed the stuff with Zinsser's SealCoat and then appplied two coats of the finish, semi-gloss. Tried matte and it didn't look right, too unfinished. Just be warned that MDF is very thirsty, and applying sealer and/or finish is tricky and should really only be attempted after working out a strategy on FULL SIZE sample boards. It's cheap so don't sweat it, believe me, it'll be worth the extra $25 to $50. Again, I cut these into 4' x 4' squares, laid them on the diagonal, attached them to the plywood subfloor with a screw in each corner and a dab of construction adhesive in the middle, then covered the screws with plugs of MDF and applied the sealer and finish. -R. http://livemodern.com/Members/richierod/MDF%20Floor.jpg/image_view_fullscreen
 
Attachments

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at August 29. 2007

They look like they turned out very nice. I'd love to see a close up of them. MDF has some great grain pattern to it and I'm sure once the sealer went on the colors of it really came out.

Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at August 29. 2007
You guys are so demanding... Here is a somewhat out of focus shot of the MDF up close. Here you can see the grain, the chamfer and the plugs covering the screws. http://livemodern.com/Members/richierod/MDF-Close.jpg/image_view_fullscreen
 
Attachments

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Steven at August 29. 2007

Looks great, I think I will play around with getting a gray concrete look.  Could be very versatile and easier on the feet.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Kirk Washburn at September 23. 2007

I am surprised how good that looks!  How did you make those plugs?  They are such a tight fit.  Thanks!

 

Previously richierod wrote:

You guys are so demanding...
Here is a somewhat out of focus shot of the MDF up close. Here you can see the grain, the chamfer and the plugs covering the screws.
http://livemodern.com/Members/richierod/MDF-Close.jpg/image_view_fullscreen

 

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at September 23. 2007
Kirk - You can buy a thing called a "plug-cutter". And it does exactly that, cut plugs! So, if you drill 3/4" holes, you buy a 3/4" plug-cutter and it alwatys fits exactly. It's a beautiful, no hassle type of thing. Some flooring guys will install one type of floor and then plug the holes with a different species of wood to accentuate the plugs. That looks cool too. Anyway, you cut the plugs, drop some glue in the holes, tap the plugs in with a mallet and flush cut the plugs with a saw. -R.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Kirk Washburn at September 25. 2007

Great excuse to buy a new tool!  Thanks!

 

_kirk

 

Previously richierod wrote:

Kirk -
You can buy a thing called a "plug-cutter". And it does exactly that, cut plugs! So, if you drill 3/4" holes, you buy a 3/4" plug-cutter and it alwatys fits exactly. It's a beautiful, no hassle type of thing. Some flooring guys will install one type of floor and then plug the holes with a different species of wood to accentuate the plugs. That looks cool too. Anyway, you cut the plugs, drop some glue in the holes, tap the plugs in with a mallet and flush cut the plugs with a saw. -R.

 

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by Jason Hammond at December 10. 2007

R

I am trying to decide how to fasten my flooring down . Did you actually screw your pieces to the sub-floor or did you use some sort of tongue and groove system channel and fir strip to connect the pieces together.I'm worried about swelling and shrinking of the pieces as the humidity changes.

 

Jason

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by uncleho at December 11. 2007

When I build I plan on T&G all sides of my MDF panels, which will be 4'x4' tiles. I will have visible SS screws in counterbored holes. The screws will hold them down while the T&G will help minimize the effects of humidity and unequal subfloor. The tiles will be chamfered like the ones in the photos above to help minimize any visual error due to any variation in thickness and subfloor error.

 

At least that is the theory.

Re: Modern flooring option

Posted by richierod at December 17. 2007

Hi - 

Well, I am experiencing some dimensional changes in the floor, as I did not use a T&G type of registry system. I am experiencing some buckling. It is slight, however, and no cause for worry - especially since it is in the kids rooms. ;) After actually installing and living with this floor, I think the best answer for this type of installation is to chamfer the edges and during installation to leave a nail's width of space between adjacent panels. This would look OK because of the chamfer, and give your floor a little bit of room to "breathe". That said, if you cut plugs like I did, you really cannot see them. So, in this case, you could screw every corner AND one midway down the sides, together with the dollop of construction adhesive in the center, and get a pretty sturdy result.

Uncle Ho - 

I think you might consider that if you T&G the sides, you still may get lift if the humidity is high enough to cause the panel to swell if there is no mechanical fastener to hold the panel to the subfloor midway between the corners. One thought - about minimizing panel swell - is to finish all six sides of the MDF before installation and then applying a finish coat to the show side.

 

 

 

 -R.

Powered by Ploneboard

 

 

 
 
 

Website migration, maintenance and customization provided by Grafware.