This client had existing saligna wooden floors which were suspended, or sprung, and she wanted to extend the floor to the other half of the room which was concrete with a linoleum covering. The total area was about 12 square metres. A small job in size but we needed to be careful to get it flush and level with the existing floor.
Saligna makes very nice floors in that it is relatively inexpensive as it is grown locally in South Africa. Saligna come from gum trees. It is a hardwood and relatively hard and dense so is moderately durable. It is not of course as good as teak or some of the other hardwoods, but it is cost-effective and does the job well. The sapwood is a pale yellow in colour, fairly well-defined from the light rose-brown heartwood. The grain is usually interlocked, occasionally straight and the texture is rather coarse. The wood weighs between 700-800 Kg / m³ when dried. It takes nails and screws reasonably well. So overall it makes a good flooring timber when taking into account cost and durability.
It is always a good idea to let the floor boards acclimatise on site in the area they will be installed, for about 2 weeks. Timber “moves” (expands and contracts) a bit in different climates and one wants all the movement to occur before installing the boards so as to limit any gaps that might open up after installation. This is particularly the case with saligna as it tends to “move” a bit more than other timbers. Saligna also prefers to be installed on a suspended system, as opposed to being stuck down to the concrete substrate, as it can then still move during its lifetime without cracking.
We installed 30mm batons, also in Saligna, to the floor using hiltis and then attached our floor boards to these using oval nails. One should always use the same wood as the batons, or one of similar density, so that they can “move” at the same rate. A nail gun with brad nails isn’t the best way to secure them as the brad nails aren’t ribbed and can pull out in the future. There are pneumatic nail guns available that take ribbed nails which make the job a lot quicker and easier.
The trick in doing these floors, as it is with decks, is to make sure that the top of your batons are flat and level. If your substrate is flat and level and can’t move, the boards will go down nicely and the floor will give you many years of warmth and enjoyment.
These were tongue and groove boards so each board’s tongue slips into the other boards groove to give a seamless finish. The nails are hammered in at a 45 degree angle through the tongue so they are concealed.
When these boards are machined the tongue and groove are machine slightly off center so that the boards can be sanded during their lifetime a few more times than if they were machined dead center. A board can only be sanded a number of times until the thickness between the top of the board and the tongue becomes so small that they start breaking off. This is particularly the case with saligna as it is not as hard as teak for instance and when it is sanded the sander removes slightly more wood than it would on a teak floor.
We sanded the floor flat, installed some skirtings to match and then sealed it using a Woodoc Floor sealer.
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