Let’s quickly remember the weekend when Pete went out of town and I spent 10 hours racking floorboards by myself in maternity leggings, with Cosmo radio blasting, successfully emptying 13 of the 85 boxes by prepping the hallway, the nursery, and Julia’s bedroom for the installation of our maple flooring. I slept great.
Pete snapped these photos the day on Friday, the day before he left, as I worked through my first ditch effort at racking the floorboards. And yes, as of this weekend I am officially in my 9th month of pregnancy. Do those kneepads make me look big?
Worth noting, on Saturday morning, I tore the entire hallway rack job all apart and started from scratch.
Racking’s a great practice and major time-saver; it allows you, the installer, to get a handle at how the boards fit together prior to installing them, to see how they look, so that when it comes time to actually nail the boards in, there’s already some thought behind the placement of each board. To put some values around this practice, I suspect that the 10 hours I spent this weekend probably saved us 20 hours of negotiations if we tried to rack on the fly.
But the thing about racking floorboards (and laying them out in general) is, come to find, by industry standards, it looks super amateur if you break simple rules (I read all about these rules here, and then proceeded to chew all of my fingernails down to stubbies while obsessing over every last detail). No H’s, no steps, no close joints (in our case with 5″ boards, I needed to try and keep each seam 10″ apart). It all translates to the racker (for lack of a better job title?) wanting to pull their hair out.
It was a labor of love, those 10 hours of masterful amateur work, and totally worthwhile. I went from left to right and learned quickly that laying a single course at a time was critical to my sanity and my ability to see the overall vision. My mission with the long hallway–read: the most unobstructed, long running span in our house–was to have the longest, most consistently colored floorboards running in perfect doesn’t-look-amateur sequence. It was probably the most challenging space to start, so I took my job pretty seriously.
I can’t say enough how much easier racking floorboards is once you sort the inventory by length. Not only does it allow you to see the coloring and filter through them in that manner, but in a pinch, when you know you need to find a perfect 46″ board, you know what’s at your fingertips. I’ll come back to commenting on the uggo floorboards tomorrow.
In going directly down the hallway, I laid the premium underlayment product that we purchased from Lumber Liquidators before I even started to rack the boards (this way, it was already in place when we were ready to actually begin nailing it in). We were advised to upgrade (of course) due to the product’s qualities to better absorb sound (less click-clack) and better insulate our main living space from the cold basement. With only 100 sq. ft. per roll, we had to buy several rolls for each room and almost two of them went into the hallway itself.
Unfurling the underlayment was easy enough to do myself; it fits beneath the freshly trimmed door jambs perfectly, and floats nicely beneath the floors, though it is like walking on ice in ballet flats. When it came time to cover more square footage with the stuff, the process was simple thanks to an adhesive strip that seals the long edge of two pieces together for insulative purposes.
After finishing the hallway (and proudly boasting of my achievements to Pete, my mom, and my sister via text), I progressed right into the nursery at the end of the hallway, and laid 2/3 of the entire room in a feat of overambitious strength; the bedroom installation itself requires us to flip the direction of the boards, tongue of each facing to the left now, and because we aren’t doing formal thresholds for clean line-of-sight purposes, we invested in splines (a joiner, or a fake tongue in essence, used to connect two grooves together). The bedroom was considerably easier because at that point I had fine tuned the harder skills and already pre-sorted my flooring inventory, and also because I cared a little bit less if the floorboards weren’t perfectly matching in color (it is natural maple, for goodness sake).
The reflection immediately brightens this room, the darkest of the bedrooms, and makes me so pleased with our decision to remove the carpet. Because the boards are still loosely fit at this point, the boards are each a little more prominent than they’ll be in the end. I can’t wait to get it done.
I could only rack so much into Julia’s room, what with the heavy bed and loads of full flooring boxes in my way. Her room, and the angle of this photo helps to demonstrate the heating baseboard that we’ll be working around throughout most of the house. It’s installed high enough on the wall that we won’t need to undercut or relocate the piping height, and deep enough that it will actually help us disguise rough wood ends much in the way you would rely on traditional wooden baseboard. Mostly, it makes the installation process a bit easier and neater, which hopefully translates to faster.
More to come.
Any other flooring enthusiasts partake in installing their own maple? How’d it go? Any tips?