Over time, floors have had the tendency to warp, squeak, and, at times...
...sink-in if not properly constructed. Your foundation, structural reinforcements, moisture conditions, materials in floor systems, and workmanship all play a big part in how well your floor withstands the test of time.
One of my personal priorities for a floor is that I want it to feel solid enough for an elephant to walk across it. And a properly built floor should feel that way.
There are several components that lead to a "solid" floor, whereby each part has its own influences and it's the combination thereof that creates your entire floor system:
Floor Joists: Below are five distinctly different types of joist systems available for you to choose from. Including the more traditional lumber to the highly innovative engineered wood and steel products. As usual, the debate goes on for the best floor systems.
Do your research and discuss any questions you have with the professionals as to which system would best work for your home. In addition, when comparing costs consider the overall completed floor system, not just the cost of the floor joists alone.
One type of joist may not require as much structural reinforcement as another, which can affect the cost of the entire floor system.
Solid Dimensional Lumber: 2" x 8", 2" x 10", and 2" x 12"
Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)
Wood I-Beam Joists
Open Web Floor Trusses
Steel Floor Joists
Support Structures to Hold Up the Floor Joists. For a floor to be solid, it must have proper support to prevent the floor from sagging.
The support structures can be the combination of one or all of the below.
Footings Set at Proper Depth for Home's Location
Foundation Wall with Anchor Bolts and Pressure Treated Mud Sill
Laminated Beams—engineered beams that are said to be stronger than solid wood beams.
Steel I-Beams—used to span greater distances with proper supports.
Load Bearing Walls—walls that support the structure that sits upon it.
Decking (Sub-floor): The thicker the sub-floor the more solid your overall floor will be. In addition, the Tongue and Groove (TG) plywood sheets are considered by some professionals to be stronger and more stable than Wafer Board sub-flooring.
The size of sub-floor sheets used are generally 4' x 8' by either 1/2", 5/8", or 1" thick. However, if you are considering using Waferboard, it is recommended that it be thicker than plywood thickness. http://www.hometime.com/projects/howto/framing/pc2frm02.htm#decking
Underlayment: An underlayment is a thin plywood type veneer material used to create a smooth surface to lay the final flooring. Not all surface flooring requires an underlayment, but if you intend to lay any type of vinyl flooring, ceramic tile, or marble on top of a wooden sub-floor it will be required. Check with the manufacturer of your surface flooring to find out if an underlayment is needed and what type is recommended.
Flooring: There are many different types of surface
flooring to choose from. You can have anything from stained
concrete, to the shiniest marble, or the plushest of
carpeting. The choice is yours, and your pocked book as well.
There is however, specific methods of installing each surface flooring so "BeWISE" as some flooring may require a moisture barrier installed prior to laying either your carpet, hardwood floor, laminate floor, etc. Find out as much about this subject as you can to prevent you from having the unnecessary expense of PFR—Premature Floor Replacement.
Again, go to the professionals in your area to find out which materials will work best for your home. And remember, you may not be saving money if you buy a less expensive product—it could cost more in the long haul if you have to make unnecessary repairs.
Get Help Planning Your Floor Systems and Everything Above and Below
Go on to Step 9: Roof Systems
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