Installing on an angle

Q: I have 3/4′ Solid Ebony, it is a very hard wood. I am stapling it down on a diagonal. I started in the middle of the room and glued three planks in one row (5′) down with construction adhesive PL. I also spline and stapled both sides.

This is on grade but really 3′ above grade with a dry 9′ basement. I will not glue anymore pieces, only staple but I am concerned after hearing about cupping, moisture, etc. I might have trouble with the three boards. Am I being to critical? I wouldn’t have done it but someone told me it was OK to do one strip. I live in MI and have air condition and an in-house humidifier. But I just started and I could possibly rip the board up and start over, but I don’t want to if I don’t have to. I have this project on hold.

A: I haven’t installed on an angle in a long time. That is a tough job with lots of waste. I don’t see any reason you should be concerned about cupping. The PL won’t cause that. It is a polyurethane adhesive.

As long as the sub floor is dry I wouldn’t expect any issues of this nature. I’d be more concerned with using staples rather than cleats in such a hard wood. Are you getting a lot of split tongues? It’s my understanding that the big problem with staples is they hold ‘too well’. If there is any movement in the floor they won’t stretch a little like a cleat does.

They will just break off the tongues.

Follow-up Q: Thank you so much for your reply. I went ahead and kept going because my kitchen cabinets are going to be installed Tuesday. I am getting about 10 to 15% of split tongues. I bought the stapler for this job and wondered about that, but after reviewing message boards I went with the stapler. This is my first time with 3/4′ solid. I have always used the pre engineered stuff and probably should have went with it this time. This wood is very hard to work with. I can barley cut it with new blades. It looks great so far and feels great to walk on (solid)… but I don’t know. I’m
hoping that the floor wont move too much. Do you think I should change to cleats? The wood is so hard I just figured you are bound to get some split tongues regardless. I am nailing at about 64 pounds of pressure.

A: I’ve never worked with this species (thankfully) and don’t have much interest in working with much beyond North American species. I think you would get less splitting with a cleat than staple. I’m surprised you are able to fire a staple in with only 64 lb. pressure.

Is this wood unfinished? How oily is it? I ask because many of these species weep what are called extractives which can react with our finishes. Poloplaz recommends wiping such floors down with denatured alcohol before applying a coat and applying a coat soon after doing so.

Second follow-up Q: It’s pre finished flooring but 64 pounds was the sweet spot any higher and it would split every time.

It’s not oily at all. Very dry. Do you think I could have trouble down the road because I used staples?

I hate to buy another gun but will if I have to. I bought this gun new just for this project. I have 1500 sq. feet I am laying and figured I would be better off buying the gun and selling it after the project instead of renting.

I would hate to buy another gun and have to sell both guns. But I would hate to have my floor buckle later because I didn’t us a cleats. I have only stapled about 150 sq. so far and going back today.

Let me know what you think?

A: I don’t think you will have a problem unless there is sudden expansion of the floor. Maybe you could rent a cleat nailer for a day and try it out to see how it compares to the staple model. Some floor retailers may also rent nailers.