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 Post subject: Heavily Top Nailed Oak: To Fill or Not to Fill?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:35 am 
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I think that I have finally settled on a refinisher to refinish 800 sq' of 100 year old 3/4" top nailed red oak. We are having one major disagreement though:

I want to somehow have the thousands and thousands of nail holes filled (90% are all already decently sunk, 2% are still filled). The refinisher is arguing against doing this. I can understand some of his points. Even though the thousands of nails are nicely alligned, is he right? These are his reasons:

- Even after troweling a filler, the equipment will ultimately knock most of it out duing the screening steps of finishing or further sanding.

- Sinking any nails may damage (split) the already once/twice sanded 3/4" boards. (Remember though that most are already sunk!)

- If using a trowelable filler, it may also fill the grain in areas, which would look bad when finished.

- Originally, 100 years ago, the nail holes were not filled. "It was important then to show off the hard work of all the individual nails".

- We are not staining so he thinks that any filler will not really match and "you will see them anyway".

I would appreciate any thoughts. Were the floors really not filled 100 years ago when new? If that were true, preserving historial accuracy may be important.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:10 pm 
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I'll reply to each objection, if I may.
Quote:
- Even after troweling a filler, the equipment will ultimately knock most of it out duing the screening steps of finishing or further sanding.

Not true. If fillers did not stay in the holes, people would stop buying them. You need to use the right ones.
Quote:
- Sinking any nails may damage (split) the already once/twice sanded 3/4" boards. (Remember though that most are already sunk!)

It's possible to split some wood when setting nail heads but it depends on the size of the nail head (large or finish?) and it would mostly happen on the end butts or next to the edge of the board. It could happen.
Quote:
- If using a trowelable filler, it may also fill the grain in areas, which would look bad when finished.

Simple answer. Don't use a trowelable filler. Spot fill only. Use a 3" putty knike and just fills holes and areas that need it. I do this ALL THE TIME. Typically, I'll fill the holes before edging and final finishing. I don't leave filler behind in the grain.
Quote:
Originally, 100 years ago, the nail holes were not filled. "It was important then to show off the hard work of all the individual nails".

I've worked on top nailed, 5/16" floors that were over 100 yrs old and their nails holes were filled. I can't say about your area of the country.
Quote:
We are not staining so he thinks that any filler will not really match and "you will see them anyway".

If use use a filler color matched to your wood, it should match pretty good. Yes, close scrutiny will tell it's got filled holes but I assure you, it looks better than dark, unfilled holes.
Quote:
I would appreciate any thoughts. Were the floors really not filled 100 years ago when new? If that were true, preserving historial accuracy may be important.

It depends on the area and the wood. In New England, many old pine floors were face nailed and those holes were not filled. But those floors were the subfloors and finished floors which the wealthier covered with rugs. If the floor was meant to be a utilitarian type floor, then using filler may not be historically accurate. I would suggest more research on this aspect if it is important to you.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:49 pm 
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Another thing to consider on this is it does diminish the value of a historic home. Most historic societies will approve (as an acceptable alternative) new materials and construction methods if it improves the longevity or stability of the home such as new metals (steel) for metal roofing materials, polyurethane as a floor finish. Even in saying that one still may devalue a historic home for choosing a newer method like polyurethane over Tung oil. What they do not approve is cosmetic changes such as filling holes that where never filled in that region, things like this destroy the historic value of the home and can severely damage the value of a historic home. Historic homes are in vogue right now and many buyers are becoming savvy as to what to look for in their market (they like to brag about it to their yuppie friends). Anyway, the point is research your market and home and try to restore it to its original condition. The close to original the more the home is worth; filler will most likely diminish the value of the home.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:29 am 
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Yeah, it really depends on the floor and how it was done originally. I can see NOT filling large holes from nails that were used to nail down wide plank floors that are rustic in nature. That probably would not have been done. That is like the the face nailing of pine plank floors. Those nails are supposed to be left exposed like these:
http://www.wideplankflooring.com/easternwhitepine.html
http://www.wideplankflooring.com/featuredproduct.html

But if your floors are fancier, less utilitarian looking, they often would have the nail holes filled. Do you think they would leave nails unfilled in floors like these?
http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/w ... llroom.jpg
http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/w ... edroom.jpg
http://www.hardwoodinstaller.com/hardwo ... .php?t=297

So it really depends on the type and style of your existing floors. This is where you need to research. You can post a photo for us here and we can better tell you what we think.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:39 am 
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Location: Coeur 'd Alene, Idaho
Don't discount any of these posts ... they're all right on 8)

I just want to do a product plug if I may ... I finally convinced my local favorite supplier to give in to the hype in the advertising and give TIMBERMATE a try. He did, I did, a bunch of us here locally did .. the hype is true. It is an awesome filler. There is no shrinking. I apply it once and I'm done with the filler portion, and I cannot make it come out. It can be thinned with water and used as a trowel filler or left thick and applied as Gary suggested and it is THEEEE BEST species matcher in any non-wood based product I have ever seen. Even in tough to match woods like American Cherry. The holes and cracks simply flat disapear! Anyway ... there you have it ... a shameless plug...

Good luck getting other bids from guys who are less skeered.... (red-neck term meaning less afraid 8) )

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William
Heritage Hardwood Floors
Coeur 'd Alene, ID


In order to achieve what the competition cannot grasp, we must complete what they will not attempt. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but it's darn sure worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:42 am 
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Gary wrote:
But if your floors are fancier, less utilitarian looking, ....


You win ... we all owe you five bucks for them kinda words :D

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William
Heritage Hardwood Floors
Coeur 'd Alene, ID


In order to achieve what the competition cannot grasp, we must complete what they will not attempt. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but it's darn sure worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:02 pm 
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OK, I finally got over to see floors recently refinished by this guy. They are the same as mine except I think that I have a different type of oak. Anyway, I guess boardered top nailed oak floors like this are fairly common here (Pittsburgh, PA). The homeowner wasn't there so I couldn't get his opinion. I still don't know what to think! Initially, I wanted the nail holes filled, but I kind of like this look. The refinisher is swearing that the holes should not be filled (claiming that originally, the purpose of all the nails was just as much cosmetic as structural) and that this is the way he does all the top nailed floors like this in the area and noone ever complains about filling the nail holes. What do you think? Also, there are some pics of pine floors that he did too. I don't have the $$$ for that right now, but do you think he did a good job with those? Thanks for your opinions and information. This is an awesome resource.

http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2655.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2658.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2665.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2673.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2649.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2650.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2651.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2652.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2653.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2654.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2656.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2657.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2659.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2660.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2661.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2662.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2663.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2664.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2666.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2667.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2668.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2669.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2670.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2671.jpg
http://www.telerama.com/~gregl/fl_2672.jpg


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:33 pm 
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WOW! Very well done. I sure miss east coast flooring. I learned my trade working for M & M Floors in Falls Church, VA. The clarity is excellent. Looks like a high quality OMU finish. AND I Agree that the nails are tasteful and add to the look nicely. He seems to have what it takes to git er done.

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William
Heritage Hardwood Floors
Coeur 'd Alene, ID


In order to achieve what the competition cannot grasp, we must complete what they will not attempt. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but it's darn sure worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:47 pm 
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback and advice; this is a great resource! At this point, we are about to hire this guy for the job. And, I guess we (read wife) have decided on leaving the nail holes unfilled. We can't figure out if they were originally filled or not in regard to historical accuracy. Does anyone have any final comments in regard to this?

I am assuming that our floors will come out just as the pictures above show. My wife likes the look, but I am still unsure. In addition, this refinisher is charging $2.55 sq' (w/ 3 coats DuraSeal) which puts him right in the middle of other bids that we have received. Thanks again for any comments. By the way, it was a 50/50 mix of those that said to sink and fill and those that advised againts doing this in that the boards are already very thin due to previous refinishing. Remember though, most are already decently sunk.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:30 pm 
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IMO $2.55 is a steal. We 3 coat @ $3.25 with Fabulon. Judging by the pics it looks great to me. Good Luck!

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William
Heritage Hardwood Floors
Coeur 'd Alene, ID


In order to achieve what the competition cannot grasp, we must complete what they will not attempt. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but it's darn sure worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:12 am 
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You bet it is. Here, I get 25% more than that $3.25. And that's on larger jobs. The smaller one's cost even more.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:57 pm 
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...but you're on the left coast in CA, Gary - when I lived in LA we considered 25% more on anything a bargain...!


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 Post subject: Re: Heavily Top Nailed Oak: To Fill or Not to Fill?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:41 pm 
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Funny that I am also dealing with "to fill or not to fill," top nailed oak floors in Pittsburgh, Pa. Either it is common here or we used the same guy.


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 Post subject: Re: Heavily Top Nailed Oak: To Fill or Not to Fill?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:57 am 
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Well we are not filling ours. It may take some getting used to for us but other people who have seen it love the look. Apparently this is common in high end Victorians.


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