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        Concerns with Subfloor before Hardwood Install (Pics) Sign In/Join 
        posted
        We have been planning to install wood floors (solid) for a while now. We have just finally gotten around to saving enough for the flooring and materials and equipment to install 650sq feet.

        I knew there might be concerns with the subfloor as you could feel certain areas of irregularity under the carpet. Most of it appears to be centered around a solitary single steel beam that spans the house directly center lengthways (1971 ranch with walkout basement) The big concern is the hall way that is basically split down the middle by this beam as the subfloor underneath is not even. The two main rises in the plywood come up almost 7/16 of an inch.

        You can see by the photos someone did a poor job of placing some leveling compound I assume down this split in the past when laying down carpeting.

        I have gone over the subfloor and screwed down any squeaking plywood, and this also brought up another piece of plywood that is uneven by about 1/4 inch (the dog had to get involved...) I screwed this board down and it isn't squeaky anymore but both the length ends are just a little off (the other end is about 1/8th inch uneven).

        I feel like I can sand the less severe of the problem areas.

        I am a little uncertain as to how to proceed forward with the hallway issue as I know I need a permanent solution before installing wood floors here, so the project remains on hold until I figure out how to get this area prepared for installation.

        Is the answer to the hallway appropriately laying down a self leveling compound to the entire hallway? Do I need to completely rip of this subfloor and figure out whats going on below (I am suspicious it has to do with the steel beam directly below the subfloor along the hallway).

        Do I need to call in a pro?

        Thanks!


        PS: I know i have to clean the floor very well and get up the residual carpet padding peices, but with the staples in the floor that were holding the padding down, can I just hammer them flat or should they be pulled out individually?

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: hardluck1981,

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        rest of photos

        hallway
         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        rest of photos 2

        hallway
         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        not as bad subfloor photos

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        final photo!

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        I think you should call in a pro just to assess exactly what is going on here. From the pics, it looks like you have a top layer that is about 3/8" plywood (maybe 1/4"?). I am assuming that there has to be another plywood layer below that one?

        While it appears that at least one of your flooring problems is that this top layer of plywood had pulled up, most of the time flooring problems start out with the framing below. If there is a steel beam running in this area I would strongly suspect that the joists that tie into this beam have either shrunken or bowed. When used like this in a rancher, wood floor framing moves, steel beams do not.

        I'm just wondering it the top layer was added in to 'fix' a problem from below. Or if it's just a case of an amateur job (since it's got so many small pieces there)

        In any event, if you get someone in who knows construction to take a look, it could give you some direction and save you a lot of time.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10477 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        It is all 3/4 inch plywood and appears to be "tongue and groove". On the hallway section, the 2 buckled areas are the top groove section of a single piece of plywood.

        There is no additional plywood layer underneath.

        Thanks for the input I don't know if this helps, but I am definitely thinking about getting someone in to look and either give direction on how to move forward or maybe I guess pay someone to get the subfloor in check (I just don't now exactly what is wrong). I guess maybe I should actually remove the two sections in question....Just didn't want to get into tearing out subfloor if I didn't have to.

        Thanks again!
         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        Since that's 3/4" then you have some patching work there that was not done correctly. Certainly the tongue from one piece is not installed in the groove of the other. If this was a patch, then maybe the tongue was cut off or it was cut short to fit in.

        To correct those 'bubbles', you need some cross blocking in-between the joists. To install that, the plywood needs to come up first. Since it will get damaged upon removal and since it is buckling already, best route would be to get new material.

        I'll repeat my original advice though: Get a pro to take a look. I strongly suspect that you have had some repairs that were not done correctly.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10477 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of joecaption
        posted Hide Post
        That house looks like it may have gone through a major water event to me.
        That would cause all the issues I'm seeing in those pictures.


        joecaption
         
        Posts: 18039 | Location: Hartfield VA | Registered: Jan 31, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        I think the dog did it. Just look at him ....he knows more than he's letting on.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10477 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        As for the staples, I remove them -- and I use side cutters to do it. By removing them, I make sure I get all the carpet pad up. But as long as you get the pad pieces up from the staples, you can hammer them down (which you will have to hammer some down anyway when they don't want to come out easily),

        Leveling compound before laying carpet, yes, that floor has some issues. You don't want to take the cheap way out and lay hardwood floor on a bad subfloor. Now is the time to make needed repairs, or the clicks and squeaks later will make you regret taking shortcuts.


        They make it look so easy on tv, don't they
         
        Posts: 993 | Location: No. California | Registered: Mar 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by Jaybee:
        I think the dog did it. Just look at him ....he knows more than he's letting on.


        Maybe he's worried someone will find all those bones he's been stashing beneath the floor.
         
        Posts: 1964 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Thanks for the replies so far...

        Before I call someone in I want more information and don't mind tearing up a little floor. Here are the results. Any additional thoughts on necessary steps to correct this?

        Well it is mostly as I suspected. The subfloor seam is basically almost on top of the steel beam. I ripped out a small piece.

        The floor joists are 2x10 (really like 1.5x9.25inches) doubled up and then notched on the top to fit into the steel beam.

        The left side is mostly level but there is definitely a "step up" to the beam.

        The subfloor that is still on the beam you can see is markedly elevated upwards as you can see from two of the photos (one close up of the space under the subfloor and beam and the other with the level).

        It is 3/4inch plywood and it was the top of the groove section that was becoming separated from the plywood that was "buckling" on the original images".

        Why do you think this subfloor has been replaced? The subfloor sections here are mostly 8ftx4ft. There are a couple 4x4 pieces where the fireplace was installed, and some patch pieces around the spiral staircase (maybe the spiral staircase was added and there is some dysfunction where an old staircase used to be?? I don't know).

        Here are more photos. Interested in what everyone has to say. Should I just rip of this entire hallway and shim the floor over the steel beam so it is level?

        The floor is practically level elsewhere in the living room where a substantial amount of flooring is going...

        Thanks again for all the responses!

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        subfloor atop steal beam

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        elevation of 3/4 inch ply wood over steel beam.

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        The right side of hall way is fairly level...until it reaches the beam

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        The left side not so much....

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        doubled up and notched 2x10s (really 1.5x9.5inches??) to fit into the steel beam.

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        more 2x10s

         
        Posts: 13 | Registered: Apr 01, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        Things that happen when you tie 2x10's into a steel beam:

        1. The tops don't always match up - This could be from poor construction at the original install or due to shrinkage within the wood over time. The end result is the same - your plywood subfloor gets pushed up in a hump. If there is a seem nearby like in your case, it makes for an even worse problem.

        2. Because only a couple of inches of each joist is notched onto the flange of the steel beam, there is a greater tendency for that joist to bow. This can give you the same result as in #1 above - the plywood bows and buckles.

        3. It's far better construction to run the joists over the top of the beam, having the two joist runs overlap each other from the side. This way the overlapping points can be attached to each other making it more like one long joist instead of two separate ones. When done this way, a load on one side of the joists will be partially offset by the resistance of the remaining joist on the opposite side of the beam. But, this cannot be done as a retrofit in your case.

        One of the things to check from below is if the joists on either side of the beam are bowed. I would bet that they are. If you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace, you could install a mid-span beam (wood, not steel)and raise up the sagging middle of the joists. This will tend to drop the high point on each end.

        If your joists are not bowed then you may be able to make things better by jacking and shimming the ends of each joist so that the top of the joists are on the same plane as the top of the steel beam.

        As to why there have been floor patches? Who knows. Maybe some water damage. Maybe an attempt to correct the same problem you are now having. Because of the differing wood grains and colorings in your pictures, I would guess an amateur job.

        I think you have a complex problem with several possible causes. Once again have to recommend just bringing in someone who you trust who knows construction to look and advise.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10477 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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