How to Draft Proof a Timber Floor

HomeHome Improvement

  • Author John Hankinson
  • Published June 17, 2011
  • Word count 606

Timber floors add charm and character to a home; enhancing and providing a sense of ambience and a homely feel when complimented by compatible surroundings and decor. Tongue and grooved floor boards are the most common floor boards in residential dwellings and are by and large, immune to drafts. Laminate flooring, generally laid over ply-wood and interlocking, is also not prone to drafts. Where floor boards are simply butted together, over time and with wear and natural shrinkage, the drafts can become quite severe; coming up through the boards and into the home. It can be a difficult and expensive task maintaining a suitable temperature during the winter months. It makes sense therefore to try and eliminate any drafts you can. Timber flooring is not so hard to draft-proof; it doesn’t take great skills or specialist equipment, just a few basic tools, a bit of care and attention and a little thought. Like many things around the home we attempt for the first time, you’ll find it wasn’t that hard after all.

  1. Does filling the gaps increase the risk of stagnation and rot?

No! Providing after you have sealed the floor the air underneath can still freely circulate and reach the air bricks.

  1. Big gaps between floor boards.

Where the gaps are quite large, anything over about 5mm-6mm, the best method of draft proofing and sealing your boards will be by infilling the gap with lengths of thin timber laths. Follow these easy steps for a quick and effective fix:

• Plane the lengths of laths to a wedge shape. This is easily done when holding the lath firmly in a bench vice or portable work bench.

• Apply a liberal coating of a suitable waterproof wood adhesive along each side of the wedge shaped lath.

• Gently tap the wedged timber laths into the gap using a wooden mallet; but leave it standing proud a little.

• When the adhesive has fully set, see manufacturer’s guidelines, plane along the inserts to bring flush.

• Sand or buff smooth (paint or stain) as desired, or necessary.

  1. Small gaps.

When the gaps are quite small, say less than 5mm-6mm, the jobs a bit easier. No need for timber inserts, vices, or planes. The process here is much quicker. If you are going to simply draft-proof the boards and then overlay with some form of covering then all you need to do is take a sealer gun and a quality, flexible acrylic flooring filler, fill the gaps and ensure that it’s reasonably flush before covering over. If however you wish to stain your floor boards, then the answer is to purchase ready mixed wood filler that matches your colour choice, or that can be stained to match your choice. The steps to follow if using this method are;

• Load the filler cartridge into the gun, and cut the nozzle tip off at an angle, to approximately the same size as the widest gap (5-6mm)

• Carefully draw the gun along the length of the board, ensuring adequate filling of the gap. A little proud is not a problem as you can clear this off next.

• Each time you complete a length of board it’s a good idea to go back over it with a filling knife and scrape off the excess.

• Unless you have used a colour filler to match your existing floor colour, you will now need to touch in the filler material to match. This is probably a good time to give the whole floor a fresh coat of varnish to brighten it up now that you’ve come this far. Job done!

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