Installing a Reclaimed Wood Floor in Your London Home
One of the most popular types of reclaimed wood is railway sleepers. Made from solid oak that has an exceptionally dense grain, these huge wood planking pieces are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Although these sleepers are really too large to use in a small to mid-sized room, once they’ve been planked they can look absolutely stunning in larger rooms and lobbies in London terraced homes. They are also very popular as patio edging or as feature garden steps leading to a gazebo or summerhouse. Many gardens look utterly lovely and very unique with sleeper-raised flower beds, patio entrances and as retaining walls.
Solid oak sleepers bring a timelessness and effortless elegance to interior and exterior spaces, although if you intend using reclaimed oak wood sleepers in the home it is essential to have them creosoted and treated for rot before bringing them inside.
The fortunate buyer can still pick up a bargain in the form of used railway sleepers if they’re willing to put in the search time. If this is not possible then pre-treated sleepers are often advertised in local papers or garden centres and the like.
Railway sleepers – don’t go it alone
Reclaimed railway sleepers can be affixed to existing floors, joists and beams and as such are fairly versatile to use, if rather heavy to manoeuvre. If you attempt to lay railway sleepers yourself then be sure to have some good nature and strong friends around to help with the laboring!
Be sure that all your measurements are accurate and be realistic in allowing for wastage. Sub flooring should be strong, intact, clean and dry before commencing to lay the sleepers. It is also a good idea to use a form of industrial strength building paper (backed with bitumen) below your installation and nailed in place. This will help give additional strength and help to prevent the wood bowing through time.
Lay the sleepers alongside the length of the wall and be prepared to have off-cuts at the end of each line. Because you are using wood which has been used before, take time to carefully check each one before you install it on the floor. If you discover a damaged sleeper do not discard the whole thing. Instead, cut the damaged wood away and you will surely find a use for the remaining healthy wood as an end piece. Use each cut-off piece as the started plank for the next run. In this way you will have naturally spaced and attractive floor without having a ‘uniform’ effect.
It is essential to leave a small gap of at least 10mm between the skirting and the first sleeper. This gap, although tiny to the eye, allows for expansion and breath ability of natural wood. Use spacers to help retain the same size of gap although the length of the floor. Ideally you can use a nail gun with 50mm L nails to secure the floor. Make sure to secure every beam securely whilst at the same time avoid over tightening wood to joist.
When you have reached to last row then leave a gap at the wall as you did with the initial row and use a clamp to secure this final row in place.
If you are laying sleepers over a concrete base you will require to lay a sub-floor of ply board or chip wood first. Do not attempt to lay your sleepers directly on top of concrete.
Once the floor has been completed you will have a beautifully thick, solid wood floor sanding which will last for many lifetimes. As with any type of real wood, you can finish off your floor by finishing using an oil or water based finishing such as lacquer, varnish, wood stain or simply leave it bare for a unique distressed look.