Tongue and Groove or Butt-joint plank pine floor

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Forum topic by Northern posted 08-20-2012 07:30 PM 11068 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 2749 days

08-20-2012 07:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: floor plank tongue groove butt

Hi everyone..

My family has purchased just above 1000 sq. feet of rough sawn pine boards of varying lengths (10-16 ft) and widths (10-12” or so I’ve been told) to put down for our cottage floor.

The main debate is whether to butt it or tongue and groove it. My Dad and I re-tongued and grooved some reclaimed flooring, and that was a nightmare. Lucky, our professional carpenter friend gave us a hand.

Anyways, he isn’t available for this job. My Mom (the real boss) is a fan of rustic, and having looked at pictures, she understands the spacing between planks with butt floors, and is more interested in getting this stuff dressed and nailed down. I should mention, my Dad, is not healthy and is not able to really help in a physical way, and I don’t really have anyone I can use as an assistant. So the tongue and groove option to me seems very unattractive for the following reasons: our terrible experience last summer, lack of time (starting work and full-time university in a few weeks), lack of confidence in our equipment and operator (me) to maintain the precision required to tongue and groove without wasting a lot of material or having spaces equal to a butt joined floor.

Anyways, so what are the cons of the butt jointed floor? I understand there will be spaces, dirt will build up in them, it may look too rustic (cottage is built like a house, but the decor/finishing is more rustic), as well, what kind of nails can I use that look nice, but won’t pop? I’ve been reading cut nails will pop, so there goes that idea. Also, we aren’t a fan of plug floors.

Any advice or guidance are appreciated! Thank-you.

7 replies so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3256 days

#1 posted 08-20-2012 07:46 PM

Have you considered ship-lapping the edges. It would be much easier than tongue and groove.
All you would need to do after you rip all the pieces to width is cut a rabbet on each edge with a dado blade on your TS.
I would not think that cut nail would pop out. Wide floorboards have been face nailed for years with cut nails.
I would not butt joint them unless I was sure that the wood was dry.
Good luck

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Northern's profile


12 posts in 2749 days

#2 posted 08-20-2012 08:33 PM

SASmith, after a quick google search to see what ship lapping is-I am now seriously considering using it. I’ve made similar cuts before on a table saw with success and the nature of the ship lap doesn’t require quite as much precision…

The boards are definitely not dry.

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2401 days

#3 posted 08-20-2012 08:57 PM

The cut nails will go nicely with the period of ship lap joinry I think. Is there a particular orientation with regard to run of the grain that’s important with using them in order for them to stay set better? Christopher Schwarz had a source posted recently for new ones if you don’t have a store of old ones retreived from barn structures. Good Luck. Russell

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View WDHLT15's profile


1803 posts in 2745 days

#4 posted 08-21-2012 02:14 AM

If the boards are not dry, given their width, you will get up to 1/8” to 1/4” gaps as it dries in place.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3917 days

#5 posted 08-21-2012 02:21 AM

Consider birds mouth jointing the edges. Butting them is not a
good decision unless you are planning to install a plywood subfloor
on top.

In olden days butted wood floorboards might have been acceptable,
but modern standards of child safety and hygene are different.

View Northern's profile


12 posts in 2749 days

#6 posted 08-23-2012 02:42 AM

Loren, we will be installing on top of a plywood sub-floor….

If we shiplap, then we don’t have to worry about what kind of nails to use as much, although I’d consider using cut nails in the ends for the look..

As for squaring these boards up:

1) Thickness Planer w/ sled on first face
2) Thickness Planer on opposite face
3) Table Saw with plywood sled first edge
4) Table saw opposite edge

We have a Jointer but I think it’s too small. Regarding the edge of the boards, is there a chance that they are sufficiently square to rip to width and ship lap without having to do step 3+4?

Thank you for all the replies so far.

View Northern's profile


12 posts in 2749 days

#7 posted 08-23-2012 02:44 AM

This is the main article I’ve referenced for getting the boards true..

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