Step 19: Solid Pine Floor
Using battens serves many a purpose. Providing the concrete floor slab is fitted with a working damp proof system and has no other planet based issues, it will help in attaining a good level if the surface isn't perfect. it gives an additional healthy air-space beneath the boards. And of course, the important appearance of nails - screws were never a traditional look.
It also provides you with the perfect opportunity and conditions for you to fit under-floor heating. All you need is (in this case) 50 meters of 8mm copper microbore, a box of clips, a couple of radiator valves (one being thermostatic) and a few extra fittings. £200 tops:-)
But! Anyone thinking of fitting under floor heating in a situation like this should seriously consider doing it long before the floorboards are permanently fixed with nails. Even kiln dried timber, in a temperate climate, stored in a merchant's shed will still have a high moisture content and the shrinkage, after being exposed to this kind of heat, will be quite significant, which could result in serious gaps between the boards in no time - 4,5,6,,,7mm! That's a 1/4 of an inch in old money - I kid you, not.
It was for this reason that I have decided not to - I'm in a rush.
Allowing for normal atmospheric conditions, the boards still need pressing together, as they are fitted, to avoid too much shrinkage. The gizmo pictured in this step is a home-made version of a tool that can be bought or hired. It's simply a small portable bench vice inverted and used to clamp to the batten as an anchor. A Quick Clamp turned inside out to make a spreader. An 8 inch piece of floorboard cut from the "groove" edge to protect the board tongue and a rubber mallet to apply encouragement. The spreader is then placed between the anchor and board protector. Wear gloves. And squeeeeeze!!!
I've used modern water based mat varnish. The last thing I want is a gloss finish (not acoustically ideal).