Installing the hardwood flooring, part 1

Started putting down the hardwood floors today. This is such a gratifying part of the process because it transforms the space so quickly. We like sustainably harvested hardwood floors because they are beautiful, environmentally friendly, and will last the life of the house.

The flooring we are using is sustainably harvested big leaf maple that we bought from Zena Forest Products. Bigleaf Maple isn’t the toughest flooring, but it matches our aesthetic and oak seemed too heavy for a tiny house. This is their character grade flooring which has more knots and imperfections and color variation, which we both really like. Getting to know a new floor is almost like a relationship where are you constantly discovering new and interesting things. Eventually you develop a comfortable familiarity with all of the variations and are hopefully satisfied with the results.

To carry the relationship metaphor a little further it’s also really important to start out with a solid foundation. In our case that means acclimatizing the wood to the average temperature and humidity of the living space and also checking the boards and the sub floor with a moisture meter to make sure that things are within acceptable tolerances.

Our moisture meter isn’t greatest but it works ok and tells us that our subfloor is 9% moisture and our flooring is 12%. 12% is a little high but I think the higher density of the maple is actually skewing that reading a little high. Also, because a tiny house can run a little more humid than a regular house I don’t mind taking the chance of a little gapping rather than risk buckling if the tiny house is left unoccupied and the interior moisture rises to ambient levels.

Just like siding, the most important boards are the very first ones because that sets the line for the rest of the floor. It’s a little tricky working around the wheel well and keeping things straight but so far so good.

The flooring stapler we borrowed is incredibly fun tool to use. You whack the back of it with a special mallet and it tightens the boards and blind-staples through the tongue so there are no exposed fasteners.

– Brian

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