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Thread: Redwood end grain flooring project finished.

  1. #1

    Redwood end grain flooring project finished.

    So I had a small room, 10 foot x 12 foot that I raised the floor to match the rest of the house and I wanted to install a more unique flooring option that would really stand out from average options. I had read about end grain and was interested. End grain has actually been around for hundreds of years. They have used it in old factories and even some streets back in the day and still going strong apparently. One store could bring in end grain flooring but it was about $11 a square foot. So like so many other projects where I decided to just try and do it myself, I decided I can make my own flooring. This was a learn as I go process. I have decided to share the process here.

    So I decided to use redwood 4x4s and cut them into 1" thick tiles. I bought a bunch of 4x4s and planed them down to the same size. Interestingly, as you can see, this redwood had two tones to it which greatly increased the look of the floor. I did make a mistake on my initial purchase and bought too few beams. What I didn't account for was the loss of material when laying the tiles and I also made my calculations on the dimensions of the lumber before planing. So I went back and bought a few more but surprise surprise, not all lumber is milled the same and I got beams that were too narrow compared to the ones I already planed and wasted money there and had to buy more. Planning allowed me to have consistent dimensions and game me square corners so edges could meet up nicely and I wouldn't have to grout. So here comes the hard... or tedious part. To cut the beams into tiles I bought a new chop saw, an expensive ($160) 12" saw blade, and set up a dust collection system with the Dust Deputy which can all be seen in pictures. On the saw I made a new fence and set up a stop so that each tile would be cut the exact thickness. I also set up a hinge clamp to hold onto the beam while sawing. This worked quite well except for one problem... I had to cut 1600 tiles and that took somewhere around 8 hours total. I could have saved some time by doing two at a time if I had a sliding miter saw but alas that was too late.

    I cannot say enough about theDust Deputy system. After cutting 1600 tiles, I opened up the vacume and there was maybe a few cups of actual sawdust. The Dust Deputy had caught about 6 trash bags of saw dust. No clogged filters, just one of my happiest woodworking tool purchases. So eventually I got them all cut. I did find out that some of the beams were still damp and I tried to air them out. Interestingly they shrunk a little and the ones that were in direct sun on top of the concrete actually cracked from drying too fast. Most of these were the mis-sized beams and I didn't end up using those. So I let all my tiles air out and left them in the room I would install them so that they would aclimate to the same conditions and not expand or contract after installed. Then came time to lay the tiles. You cannot use regular thinset, it won't stick to wood.

    The hardware store did have a polyurethane based glood for wood floors that you trowel on just like thinset with a notched trowel. It says it can serve as a vapor barrier and remains a little flexible so it can adjust to the floor. The glue seems to have worked just fine but it is messy as heck. Super sticky and you have to make sure you don't get it on the surface of the flooring. It is expensive, it is goopy, and it forms a skin inside the bucket which is very annoying because I ended up wasting a lot of product when I had to peel off and throw away the skin that forms when not in use. It even had a thick skin when I first opened it up. Unfortunately after two buckets, that just seems to be the way the material is. So I would trowel it on with a 1/4" notched trowel and go a few rows at a time. I was hoping that having precise cut tiles would mean I would end up with a nice even floor but unfortunately it was not meant to be. Even with care, I was not able to get the tiles to all sit level to each other. I could get it close but inevitably, due to the glue and minor imperfections in the plywood sub-floor I could never get them to sit flush. I had hoped that care in the beginning would have saved me from having to sand but I ended up having to sand anyway. I had to use wood putty to fill in some gaps in the flooring that I also could not avoid.

    Once it was all set and dry I used a random orbit sander with about 100 grit sandpaper and went to work. I didn't want to rent a big floor sander so I did what I could with the small sander. My goal wasn't a perfectly level floor but I didn't want edges. I figured that a small cobble-stone feel was acceptable, plus the polyuretahne would help with that some. I used water based polyurethane which kept more of the natural reds and pinks and blondes rather than making them more yellow. Three layers applied and it has been about 3 months since I finished that project. Have to say I am pretty happy with the results. I will never ever do it again but I am still happy with what I made. I hope this is a useful guide to anyone who is interested in making their own flooring. Feel free to ask any questions you have! Enjoy the photos.
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    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 10-12-2017 at 9:00 AM.

  2. #2
    That's really unique Matt. Never seen an endgrain floor. Sounds like it was a LOT of work.

    Well done!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    A LOT of work but the end result is very nice!
    Please help support the Creek.

    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. - Steven Wright

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Pasadino, CA
    I've seen this done before.
    Please get back to us next year to see if it all sticks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Carrollton, Georgia
    Wow ! That's quite a project.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So Cal
    Ive seen end grain floors your looks very good with the two tone color. I like it

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hollingsworth View Post
    I've seen this done before. Please get back to us next year to see if it all sticks.

    Oh it better or I am gonna flip!

    Thanks all for the ncie comments.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Matt, that is very cool, and quite unique. I've made end grain cutting boards but you've taken end grain to a whole new level!
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  9. #9
    I have been in old mfg plants that used an end grain floor. They wear forever.

    Nice job.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  10. #10
    love that floor!
    Inspiring- I would love to do this in a house when I get one

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Fredericksburg, TX
    That was quite a project. The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co plant in Springfield, IL back in 1965 had a wood floor out in several areas of the shop made up of 4x4 end grain wood, possibly oak, that was about 4" long on end, and I think loose set for replacement. There were a lot of steel shavings in the machining areas and you would always end up with some steel in your shoe soles. Yours is a much neater and better looking floor.

  12. #12
    Love it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Houston, TX
    Very unique and really like the final project!

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