These solid wood floors were installed in Hluhluwe in a house that was being renovated by the new owner on a farm. We used all brown teak, end matched. Most of our teak in South Africa comes from Zimbabwe and they are not allowing teak to leave the country without being machined there. So they were machined in Zim, exported to Gauteng and then shipped to Durban and then up to Hluhluwe. We always allow our timber to stand on site for at least two weeks to acclimatise to the humidity and conditions in their final resting place. This eliminates problems further down the line of boards swelling after installation which cause popping of boards.
Because it is quite difficult to get long lengths of teak, these boards were end matched. They varied in length from 450mm to 1m. To avoid waste in installation the manufacturer will machine them with tongue and groove joints on all four sides so that instead of cutting the ends off to line them up with a bearer, you can simply install them end to end between two bearers because they are tongue and grooved on all four sides. The amount of waste that would be created if they were to be cut would amount to almost half of the total floor area. With lengths of 3m plus, this is not necessary as the waste is far less as a percentage of the total wood being used.
We had two areas to floor, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs there was a mezzanine type floor that had been installed already with wood joists and shutter ply. We installed bearers on top of this and then nailed our floor boards on to them. Downstairs was a concrete substrate which we fixed bearers to using hiltis. It is vitally important to get this substructure of bearers completely flat and level. So spend a bit of time on getting this right as the rest of the job will run smoothly if this is done correctly. The easiest way is to install one bearer on one end of the room and another on the other end of the room with both being level in both directions and to each other. Then run fish line between the two in intervals of about 500mm. Now you can set all your other bearers flat and level to these two, the result being a completely flat and level substructure.
Once the bearers are down you can start installing the boards from one end of the room. We used a specialised hardwood floor nailer, which I have written about here. Because this machine, or tool, is designed at a 45° angle, it cannot be used for the first or last floor boards. On the first one you must use a 40mm oval nail through the tongue (pre drill the pilot hole in hardwoods such as teak) and counter sink it is so it is invisible. From here you can use the hardwood floor nailer. The last board, or last few boards, will also not be able to be installed using this tool as the wall will get in the way. You also can’t successfully nail by hand as you did on the first board, so you will need to face nail the board. That is to drive a nail through the face of the board into the bearer and then neatly close the hole with a suitable filler to match you wood colour.
The next step is to sand the floor flat. Even though these hardwood floor boards are machined precisely to fit snugly into each other through the tongue and groove joint, they do sometimes vary in thickness by a quarter mm and this needs to be sanded flat using a floor sander and 40 grit paper. Teak is extremely hard so this part was slow going. Once it is flat you can then use a 100 grit paper to get rid of scratch marks left by the 40 grit and get the wood to a smooth finish ready for sealing.
Vacuum ALL the dust up and vacuum again to make sure that ALL dust is off the floor prior to sealing. We also use a flat broom. The same broom you see them using in shopping centres. This broom moves dust around in one steady motion rather than the normal sweep motion that causes the dust to become airborne and settle again where you have just swept. From time to time you need to vacuum the broom to get rid of the dust and continue sweeping.
3 Coats of a good quality polyurethane sealer is required. Sand lightly with a 200 grit paper to remove any hairs or fibres that would have been raised after the first coat. If using a water based sealer you can dilute the first coat with water so that it penetrates the timber. There are many sealers that can be used. We prefer the water based ones as they dry quicker than the others and are friendlier in their behaviour.
For a free no obligation quote on installing or just sanding and sealing your solid wood floors, please contact us on 031 – 762 1795 or you can use the contact us form below.