Making a Spline? Lauan? Waste Percentage?

Discussion in 'Hardwood and Laminates Q&A' started by panaman, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. panaman

    panaman Member

    Hi everyone.. I'm a nooby here..... anyway
    I am getting ready to tackle my first hardwood floor installation.
    Actually its engineered flooring. 5/16 inch thick, 4 inches wide. I bought a Porta Nailer twin trigger gun.... (I hope its a descent one)..
    Porta-Nailer hardwood floor installation – DIY woodworking tools.

    First question.... I know I am going to have to switch direction and I can't find anywhere to buy a spline for my thin enginnered flooring. The spline itself looks to be about 1/8 of an inch. I was thinking that I could buy a sheet of 1/8 inch thick lauan and cut strips from it... what do you guys think of that idea?

    My other question is waste percentage.... parallel and diagonal.....
    I've seen so many conflicting percentages on the internet.... some say 5% some say 10%, some even say 20%.....

    Basically I am still deciding if I am going to do a diagonal install in the bedrooms and living room.. or just do diagonal in the living room.....
    I got all my flooring on clearance and I don't think I can actually get anymore. So the waste percentage is important to me.... If its 10% for diagonal I could do all three bedrooms and living room diagonal and do the hallway parallel... Just trying to get a solid answer on this.
  2. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published


    Sorry for the delay in getting this posted. New users that post attachments or links in their first few posts automatically go to moderation for approval. After a few posts the software becomes a little more trusting.
  3. panaman

    panaman Member

    Hey no problem... its understandable... with all the spam bots and crap. I would know.. I am a computer nerd and host a bunch of forums and stuff myself....
  4. Lo Down

    Lo Down Old as dirt member Charter Member Senior Member

    I can't add much, but the waste factor goes down if you have large rooms and large overall square footage. I'd bet you need well over 5%, but 20% seems very high.

    You will have a built in waste factor... there will be some boards in the cartons that have defects or chipped ends or visual defects. As you inspect the boards when pulling them from the carton, mark any boards that have "issues" and set them aside for end cuts in which you will be cutting off the flaws. I put a small piece of blue painters tap next to the defect as I inspect the board. Inspect every board prior to installing them so you don't install a bad one and discover it later.
    Open and inspect a few boxes at a time as you install them.

    As far as spline material, I don't know why luan wouldn't work as long as it fits the groove nicely
  5. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    You can generally purchase proper sized splines.
  6. Elmer Fudd

    Elmer Fudd Administwative Asst. Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    From what source? Maybe an online source would help.:D
  7. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    I don't know of an online source, I just go to our wood supplier.
  8. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

  9. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member Senior Member

    For me, it's easy to find spline for 3/4" solids, but not for engineered. I had a large supply of 5/16' solid oak flooring that I used to make spline. It was the right width for most brands of flooring, just the thickness varied. Getting it that right was trail and error. It usually took a rip or two to get it, but once it was set, I made extra, and made sure I saved a piece to set the width if I needed more.

    I have used the flooring I was working with, in a pinch. Not much stress on the tongue, for reversing direction its main function is to hold the adjoining boards aligned, and eliminate topnailing.
  10. panaman

    panaman Member

    yeah, ive seen sources sell splines...but they dont sell the right size for engineered... it would have to be 1/8" thick. Lauan is the only thing I can think of buying that i can get 1/8" thick.
  11. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Spline should be solid, not plywood. You didn't say what the other dimension is - eighth by what? Have you considered getting solid oak or something and ripping it to size? Extra cutting, but better for making spline.

  12. panaman

    panaman Member

    the existing tongues are plywood, so why would it matter if the splines I make are ply wood...
    also they would only be used in two door ways....

    Since I got all my flooring on clearance at lumber liquadators.. and can't get anymore..
    I have decided to just do the living room diagonal and then do the hallway and three bedrooms parallel... i think it will still look good...
    I started the one bedroom... got three rows down so far. That tool I bought works awesome.
    I set my air tank to 75PSI and its going good so far.
    I'll get some pictures of it up once I am done.
  13. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    The existing tongues are an integral part of the board and are ⅛" x 4", not ⅛" x ½". You'd be lucky if that size spline in luaun didn't just fall apart.
  14. panaman

    panaman Member

    Well after i put some wood glue on them and shove them in the groove I would think it would be just fine. But if it doesn't work. I 'll go get some half inch oak pieces and rip some splines from them and glue them into the slots
  15. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    I agree w/ Jim. I do not think that luan (of all the plywood choices) would have the strength and stability to hold the staples/cleats or hold up the forces that the Hdwd is going to naturally exert through natural expansion and contraction. I think you would be wiser to make your own out of the a solid piece of same type of wood the flooring is made of.
  16. panaman

    panaman Member

    well the flooring is made of plywood..... its engineered.... I also thought that engineered doesnt really have any expansion properties.... hence the reason you can install it in basements and moist areas like that..
  17. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I'm sorry I was unconvincing. My 35 years of experience included a mistake here and there too. The problem with what you just said is that the failure may not come until after the floor is installed. Then you will be wondering how to fix a problem in the middle of your floor. As my friend, Tandy Reeves, likes to say, "if you don't have time to do it right when are you going to have time to redo it?"


  18. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    Luan is nearly universally considered the least stable of all plywoods. And everything expands and contracts thus the need for acclimation.
  19. panaman

    panaman Member

    i'm didn't meen to insult you at all.... but its not going in the middle of my flooring... did I start the floor the wrong way? I started against the longest wall.... I only got half of it done last night. Like I originally said that the spline would be in two doorways only be about 30 - 34 inches long and on top of that there would be door casing sitting on top of that piece of engineered wood. if you really don't think it will work.. then I definately will go get a solid piece of wood..... will pine work? cuz i got a nice piece of 1/2 pine i can rip on my table saw.... I'm almost afraid that my stapler wouldn't go through the harder style of wood.. they are just 1 inch 20 guage
  20. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I know that and you didn't insult me. We're good.

    You started the flooring right (at least in general terms - I can't be there to know for sure where I woulda started). But it doesn't matter where you started, where the spline is located or how long it is. Luaun splines aren't something I would consider on any job, under any circumstance.

    Try Poplar. It is the softest hardwood you can buy and stronger than Pine. Don't cut it until you need it because Poplar likes to warp and might be harder to fiddle with. Cut it with a thin kerf saw with lots of teeth (60) to prevent splintering. Test your fits. Just because a tongue looks to be a quarter-inch wide, doesn't mean a half-inch spline will work. The groove may have rounded edges and a spline either has to be sanded to round the corners or cut shorter than a half-inch.


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