What to do with wood floor with big gaps

Discussion in 'Help Selecting the Best Floor Covering' started by WillNH, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. WillNH

    WillNH New Member

    Hi all,

    New member, I've been reading through the forums for the past couple days, definitely learning a lot, but also getting a bit overwhelmed. I recently bought a house, and have two flooring projects on my to do list. The first is the upstairs, which has nice looking wood floors, except that there are pretty big gaps between most of the planks. Many around 1/4 inch. The house was built in 1901, and it definitely looks like there's 100+ years of dust and junk in there! My wife finds then really disgusting, so something must be done.

    I've read about ways to fill the gaps using small pieces of wood, or rope, etc, but it seems like a lot of work and I have trouble imagining that there end result would look that good. I think the wood looks nice, but I'm not that attached to it, so I'm considering putting down carpet or maybe vinyl planks. My budget is somewhat limited so I'd like to diy if possible, but most of the instructions I see online assume that you are starting with a good flat subfloor, which I'm not. So what kind of preparations would I have to do before putting down carpet or vinyl planks? I'm not super handy, so would this be biting off more than I can chew? Is there something else I should look into?

    Attached is a photo.

    Thanks in advance!


    Attached Files:

  2. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    That type of wood shrinks a lot, I see that in older homes from the 60s. What I see wood floor guys do is after the stain they have wood filler in a bucket that they trowel over the floor to fill those minor gaps before they put the top coats on. Looks like yours is sealed already so the filler has no place to go. That is what I would do is to re sand and do filler but it might not get rid of the lines since it has sealer in the joint.
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  3. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Those bigger gaps are going to be an issue. How much movement is there in the floor both structurally and seasonally. Wood fillers will break up from the movement. Rope is used in big gaps because it will withstand the movement, expansion and contraction. That’s a nice looking floor. I say clean it up and keep it just the way it is. Maybe an area rug.
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  4. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Rope like Manila? What the ? Stuff it like backer rod?
  5. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Exactly. Might have to look around to find an appropriate size. Ace hardware or True Value would be a good go to. Pretty economical as well.
  6. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I've never seen backer rod for wood floors.
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  7. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Ok, Sisal. I can’t picture the aesthetics of it. It blends with the wood, gets sanded/stained/Urethaned?
  8. WillNH

    WillNH New Member

    Thanks for all the responses!

    I'm not sure if sanding and wood filler would work, the wood kind of thin and done of the gaps are pretty deep.

    I don't think there's much movement seasonally. At least I haven't noticed any, but I also haven't paid close attention. There definitely are still big gaps in the summer. Structurally out seems pretty solid I think.

    I'm having trouble picturing the rope option, but I'll look into it.

    We stopped in a flooring store and the salesman recommended putting down carpet over the wood. We're leaning in that direction.
  9. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I've covered a lot of them here. Some just like it the way it is. You could caulk them with tan caulk or tile caulk, might blend it a bit.
  10. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    Big stretch cedar tan caulk
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Pioneer Carpets

    Pioneer Carpets Pro Member

    Hey count yourself lucky it didn't expand instead and you'd have a cupped floor that nothing can be done except tearing it out.
    Carpet is the cheapest option and you'd be able to return to sand and refinish at a later date if you want.
    That looks like 1/4" top nailed strip hardwood. It can be sanded, but not a DIY job.
    A floating vinyl plank could be DIY but the materials would cost as much as a base grade carpet proffesionally installed.
  12. Emil Repede

    Emil Repede Member

    If you are on a limited budget pick a less expensive engineered or laminate flooring and go against the direction of the existing floor boards. I would advise against cheep wall to wall carpet if you value your health.
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    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2019

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