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Can someone give me advice on how to repair huge (some almost 1/2 inch) gaps in 150 year old pine plank floors?

I've heard of putting rope in the cracks...

Any other tips/ideas?

Thanks!

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are your floors finished,natural, or painted?

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,1631562,00.html

The above video is as you mentioned, using stained rope.

However, there are a couple of other methods that may work okay on smaller gaps. However, be sure you want to fill these gaps as the floor may expand and contract with humidity.

One method is to mix sawdust into epoxy (since epoxy won't take staining/painting). The problem with this is a 'fuzzy' texture if too much sawdust is used and a 'floating pixie dust' appearance if too little is used. I can't vouch for how well it lasts/resists board movement but the couple of times I've done it it looked better than the gap.

Another is to fill with stainable/paintable wood filler (which I wouldn't really recommend).

For larger gaps, I've known people to toe nail strips of matching wood with finishing nails. However, with board expansion I would expect to see these strips to project upward. I've never done it or seen the long term consequence of it.

What a good idea using that rope technique.

I have large gaps like that in my floors.  We cleaned them out of all dust and debris, then put several coats of shellac in there to seal it up.  Because they were dirty, the shellac made the gaps look black, and are now easy to vacuum.  Looks kind of cool.  Our floors move quite a bit too. 

I used cedar clap boards.  They snap easily to make a wedge that can be placed into the cracks. I sanded it to height. A little adhesive on the bottom holds them in place. Sometimes, I drilled a small hole and used a brad to hold it in place, but I had a sub-floor to nail into. I stained brown and they look nice.  Otherwise, Adjust your stain to color match off woods.  Kind of like coloring hair, if you want it less red, use a "green" tone.  If you want it warmer, use more "orange".  Small watercolor or craft brushes are awesome for small spot matching.  I also use a little paint the same color as my ultimate finish, to go over any old paint that just wouldn't strip - in cracks and such.

For smaller cracks, and because I have animals who have had accidents, after staining and coating with polyacrylic, I used brown caulking between each crack.  If it pulls away, I can re-apply more and sponge off the excess.  It doesn't stick well to the poly, so it is easy to rub off any that goes outside the cracks.

The exterior caulking for natural color sidings can be too toxic for interior use.  Don't try it unless it specifies it is no VOC/green product.

Imo,I would be afraid of using wood because it could cause popping the boards up if they should expand for any reason. Being softer or more plyable, using the twine/rope as filler may give some. Just a thought.

it isn't that tight.  it doesn't pop.

Are these gaps between the boards? 

Not rope. Use a thick twine or hemp.  Soak it in a stain that is the same color, or close, as the floor.  Hang it out on the clothes line to dry and put it between the boards.   Rope will be too thick and may not absorb the stain properly.  Very similar to putting twine between the planking on and old wooden board.  I've done this many a times and works great.

I had gaps up to ¼" in between the floor boards in my hallway floor, and I cut strips of wood to fit and glued them in.  Planed them down, sanded it all, and gave it 16 coats of button lac.  The infill strips went in two years ago and there's been no problem with popping or buckling whatsoever.

One piece of advice I followed was to put the wood glue on only one side of the strip.  That's supposed to allow for movement, and I guess it's working.

Of course, it helped that I found some pieces of the house's original yellow pine floor boards being used as shims behind a door casing I had to take down and repair, so the wood matches perfectly in type and age.  You can't tell the infills are there unless you're specifically looking.


I'd attach a picture, but I'm not sure how to do the linky thing.  Can anyone tell me how?

Let's not forget the other option. Remove the flooring and reinstall it tight, just like the original builders and homeowners expected it to be !  The biggest expense is your own labor.  Old house lovers never seem to shy away from the labor part, so I'm always a little confused by the reluctance of homeowners to go with this option.  The floor will feel  much more solid ( If there are gaps, the floorboards are obviously loose ) under foot, and actually add to the strength of the framing of the home. As a carpenter, I know I may have more experience, but this is possible with the basic skills.  IT IS NOT A SLEDGE HAMMER JOB !  If you have doubts, then I would say No, but it IS an option.

In my case, the T&G finish floor I was refinishing also serves as the subfloor, and the boards run under the interior partitions, one of which is curved.  So cutting the boards out and reinstalling them tight was not an option for me.


But for the original poster, it may be an idea.

this is what my parents did in the 1950's. Then they added a filler piece on the edge which was hard to detect - unless they told you all about it when they were showing off the house. They loved those wide floor boards.  

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