Tiny House Flooring – Part II, Installation

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We recently bought and made all of our own flooring by hand. (Read part one here.) Next came the installation!

The first step was to lay down a water barrier so that any water that made it through the floor would be stopped from hitting our subfloor. (We did NOT want to deal with a soggy subfloor ever again.) We nailed it into place using roofing nails with flat tops. We overlapped the tar paper around 3″ on the long edges. The annoying part was that we were able to use up our last roll of tar paper left over from the roofing, but ended up being short about 18 feet, so we had to buy an entire new roll of tar paper just for that one bit. …So if you’re interested in buying only a partial roll of tar paper, do let us know.

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After this we measured 3/4″ from the wall to allow for expansion and for molding and the wall boards. And made a chalk line. From there we face-nailed the floor to the subfloor along that line.

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When adhering the floorboards to the ground, we nail through the tongue of the boards so that the nail is not visible when the groove of the next board fits over it. However, on the edges of the room (against the wall, as seen here), there is no tongue to nail into and so we instead “face nail” the board, meaning we nail into the top of it. This will be hidden by our molding.

Next, we laid a row of boards and nailed them in one at a time with a manual nailer we rented. We chose a manual nailer at first because it was cheaper seemed safer to use. However, what we didn’t consider was ease-of-use. The manual nailer drives nails just like an air powered nailer, but the crucial difference is that you have to hit a manual nailer VERY hard and very squarely to get it to set a nail deep enough into the flooring. The next time we rented a nailer we used a pneumatic nailer. The rental was somewhat more expensive, but it was far easier to use and much less strenuous.

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Here he’s using the manual nailer.
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Here is the pneumatic nailer.

We continued this pattern, Drew nailing in the boards and me laying them out in an aesthetically-pleasing pattern. This is where my meticulous organization came in handy. I rested all the boards against the opposite wall of the house so I could see them, separating them by dark spots and plain. From there I was able to space out the darker spots so the floor looked more balance.

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You’ll notice that in the top right of the photo the floorboards don’t have many dark spots. This is because this area will lie under our kitchen counter.

Some things I needed to consider:

1) Where the cabinets would be. I put the boards with incongruities/general weirdness in those places. Same with the nook where they’ll be a couch hiding it, and bathroom where our giant barrel tub will be.

2) I needed the darker spots to be spread out so that I didn’t run out, so I had to pace their placement.

3) What the focal points of the house are. For example, I placed a set of two boards with a long, dark spot running from one to another along the middle of the walkway in the kitchen, and another self-contained dark spot in the bathroom near the entrance. I tried to consider where eyes would wander while sitting in the nook, and when sitting in the sleeping loft looking down at the rest of the house. What boards did I want to accentuate and what ones did I want to disguise?

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I found two boards that had dark spots that worked well together, so I placed them together.

We continued the pattern all the way across the floor. (Luckily, our house is a square.)

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Adhering more tar paper.
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Our mostly finished floor with our cardboard cutouts laid out. The top left one is our giant barrel tub. The top right one is our sink basin and the bottom right one is our cabinet. The long thin piece of wood on the bottom left marks where our sleeping loft ends, which also signifies where our bathroom and kitchen will end.

Once we got to the end, we trimmed down the last row to give us 3/4″ clearance between the wall and the flooring, and installed the final pieces. Next we sanded the whole floor with 100 grit sandpaper. Here is the result!

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The yellow lines were an experiment with linseed oil we’ll address in a future post.

Next we’ll stain the floor and then finally get to plumbing. We have the majority of our materials now. Wish us luck!

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