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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone seen or installed pine, cedar, or other soft woods as flooring? I'm used to seeing all oak and maple but I have this idiotic idea to lay down common cedar fence pickets as flooring, sand and oil. Obviously there are pine and fir floors done in t&g with properly selected wood, but how horrible is this idea? I'd like to try it in my own place, to be cheap and experiment.
 

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Lots of old houses have softwood floors around here, some still exposed, some covered with newer floors. Usually painted even if it's vg fir.

Cedar fence planks are awfully soft, and most of the time wet enough to splash if you hit with a hammer. You'd need to get them dry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've definitely seen some old floors still in salvageable shape made from soft wood but I'd imagine they were better, older growth stuff that isn't easy to find anymore. I'd just like to try making a long lasting finished floor with something less expensive that will be unique and retain character. How important is tongue and groove to the "mechanics" of a floor? I understand the aesthetics of blind nailing and it definitely locks the floor together, but could a face nailed or screwed and plugged floor function just as well?
 

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Plenty of pine floors around here. There's a BIG difference between rift sawn and more or less quarter sawn. Rift sawn is going to give you all kinds of headaches because there is so much soft wood exposed between rings - you'll get ring dense wood splinters coming up.

Cedar is way softer, and most of the fencing I've seen is rift sawn.

There is a different flooring technique which may work OK with cedar. Basically, you take slices across the wood maybe 1-2" thick (could be thinner, I guess, I just haven't seen it real thin), then install the slices. It works well if you're cutting up beams, but probably a little fiddly to do it with fencing.
 

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I've seen Cedar, Redwood & Pine milled as flooring.

Nice looking stuff.

Very important for the owner to know what to expect from the floor and how it will gain character.
 

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John the Builder
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Below is a bunk of Eastern Red Cedar. I've used the same from locally milled trees for a lodge I built in Bloomsdale Missouri.

That purple color won't stay (you can use aniline dye), but this species has harder heartwood than others and worked well on the floor for the upper stories. Also used it for casings, sills & doors - all 6/4 finished.

It ought to compare favorably to southern yellow pine for wearibility.

Will be real hard to get anything bigger than 6" in width, but if you get it sawed from older mountain side growth, the sapwood can be trimmed away pretty much and get you some good planking.
 

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hack of all trades
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Nice looking wood! Wouldn't wider planks be somewhat undesirable? In terms of wood movement and potential to cup, but that also depends on the type of cut I guess? Using the cheap cuts of wood I was thinking about, I bet I'll definitely have sapwood wearing down and the denser winter growth protruding and splintering. I'll have to look around at what's available and get more ideas because it will be a while before I get around to a finished floor (my own messed up place, not client)
 

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John the Builder
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Nice looking wood! Wouldn't wider planks be somewhat undesirable?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. On a large, rustic open floor plan, the wider planking looks great, and 2-1/4 t&g not so much it seems.

You can get wider and stable in many species - just not in this cedar. And the knots "make" the look just that much more rustic.

In Missouri, I could buy that stuff all day long for less money than pallet wood up here in Michigan, but lots & lots of hand work required.

So anyways, this lodge has two aromas: The smell on the main floor of 120 year old 2-1/2 thick t&g planking from breweries in St. Louis, and the most incredible aroma in the bedrooms from the cedar.
 

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Wouldn't wider planks be somewhat undesirable?
There are quite a few old pine floors here that are ~ 6-10" wide. They're all face nailed, and it looks like oakum (cotton) was forced in between to seal the gaps. 2 nails, one each edge. These were frequently (but not always) angled some so as the board dried to house moisture content, it was pulled down tighter to the joist. If it was put in with too much moisture content, it cracked.
 
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