Help! Flooring Question!

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Kim M.

Help! Flooring Question!

Post by Kim M. »

I have an early 1900's two story farmhouse in eastern Virginia. It is beautiful but needs a little TLC. All the floors in the upstairs bedrooms "bounce" as you walk across them--the hallway, bathroom and downstair floors are fine. The floors are terribly ugly hardwood that has been painted. I'm tempted to tear up the floors and carpet but am afraid of what I will find. Can anyone give me a hint?

Ken Holmes

Re: Help! Flooring Question!

Post by Ken Holmes »


Bouncy floors are a sign of three or four possible problems -- all of them fixable, especially if you are considering replacing the floors. They are: 1) The floor joists are too small -- perhaps 2 by 6's when 2 by 8's or 2 by 10's should have been used. 2) The joists are big enough, but they're spaced too far apart. 3) The joists are big enough and spaced correctly, but the subflooring is inadequate or doesn't exist. 4) The joists were ample enough when the house was built, but were cut into later when plumbing was installed in an upstairs bathroom.

If the joists are too small or spaced too far apart, you'll be able to see movement on the first floor ceilings when someone bounces around in one of the upstairs room. If the subfloor is inadequate -- or the joists have been notched -- you may or may not see movement.

In any event, if the joists are too small or spaced too far apart, the solution is to add extra joists -- a fairly straightforward job for an experienced old-house carpenter. And the addition of sturdier subflooring is a fairly easy job, if the existing floors are to be removed.

The problems you describe are pretty common, by the way: Houses as old as yours (and older) weren't built to any standarized building code. Lack of money or expertise sometimes led to some fairly funky construction.

The solution, then, is to let an experienced carpenter take a look.

I hope this helps, Ken Holmes

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