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Floor Covering For A Shop On A Wood Floor

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  • Floor Covering For A Shop On A Wood Floor

    Hey Everybody

    Well, I’ve been lurking around here for a year or more, I think it’s time for a post. I’m hoping to be setting up a bit of a shop and pulling the machines out of a rented storage unit after nearly 5 years. Looking at buying an old, but sturdy building on Main Street of a small Midwestern town, setting up my shop on the main floor, living upstairs (haven’t decides if that makes it a home-shop, or a shop-home ), basically I’m looking at a 22 X 80 brick building in the middle of the block. There IS a basement, so I’d have to sturdy things up a bit under the larger machines (13” X 40” Sharp Toolroom Lathe, Bridgeport Series 1, & Shizuoka CNC Knee Mill), but that can be done with footings and house jacks I think.

    My real concern is what to use on the existing wood floor of the first floor that would be easy to maintain and hold up to chips. I’m going to segregate things a bit, keep the ugly stuff in the back (like the bandsaw, torch, welding equipment etc.), and the front – which is actually a storefront – for the cleaner machining and benchwork etc. maybe some office space and a drafting table. I’ve been in Toolrooms where they’ve had……. How to explain it?? Institutional tile, like the stuff you see in schools and business restrooms – I think it’s 12” X 12” and that seems to hold up, but that’s usually been over concrete, so I’m not sure what to think, is there an underlayment that would help this hold up?

    Seems to be a great bunch of people here, and I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of shops around the world, so I really appreciate your input.

    Thanks

    Chandler

  • #2
    First let me say welcome,always good to have new blood around!

    I have worked on bare concrete,lenoleum,the tile you mention and painted plywood.Concrete in your example is out,the lenoleum was a terrible,it tore at the drop of a hat and was really slick if anything got on it.The painted plywood worked okay,but needed another coat every year to keep clean looking.The tile did good too,but had the same problem with being slippery when wet.

    I do have a friend with a print shop on a wood floor.He screwed cement backer board down slick side up,grouted the seams and screw holes and then painted with epoxy.So far after three years it's held up well even under the constant foot traffic and metal wheeled carts he uses.


    Hope this helps
    I just need one more tool,just one!

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    • #3
      Whats the age of the building?

      If the building is older, then the floor might be plenty stout for your purposes. My neighbors building has 3/4 oak running 45 degrees to the joist, then 3" thick heart pine running straight across, then another layer of 3/4 oak running on the bias to that. That floor is plenty strong enough for forklifts and whatever else you want on it.
      James Kilroy

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      • #4
        I seem to recall old shops using wood cut-offs standing on end (grain up) for flooring.

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        • #5
          How about something like

          http://www.jnkproducts.com/swisstrax-title.htm

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          • #6
            Most of my shop floor at work is wood. This section of the floor is actually set on vibration mounts because the "big wigs" offices at the time were on the other side of the double block wall to isolate noise as well as any vibrations from the machinery disturbing them. The building was built in 1958. It is laid down as a typical hardwood floor, appears to be maple as it does not have the grain structure of oak. I have no idea of what the floor actually sits on as far as a sub-floor is concerned. A Bridgeport (49" table"), 14x40 lathe, vertical bandsaw, pedestal grinder, belt/vertical sander, all sit on this floor. The remainder of the shop is connected to a building which was erected later. The floor in that section is VCT on concrete. I use mostly aluminum and plastics, so chips getting imbedded in the wood is not likely to occur. With a hardwood floor, kept swept, chip imbedment should be minimal. As far as staining from oils, coolant etc, I would suppose depending upon how well the floor is sealed and how soon spills are cleaned up, that could be kept to a minimum as well. My shop floor (at work) has very minimal amount of stains. Most of the "damage" to the floor is small dings, etc. from impact. This is only a small model shop, not like a production facility. I have looked at this floor for seven years and it looks today as it did the first time I had seen it. It is slick when plastic chips cover the floor though.
            Last edited by ERBenoit; 11-14-2007, 12:35 PM.
            Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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            • #7
              Wow!

              Thanks for the quick responses guys!

              Weird – That’s an interesting take on the cement backer board with the epoxy, I wouldn’t have thought of that, certainly worthy of a little research on my part.

              James – The building was built in……… are you ready for this……….. 1880. I have to admit, I haven’t given a close inspection to the construction of the floor beyond knowing it’s quite sturdy. The building was used up until early last spring as a plumbing shop and since the owner has retired he’s turned off the electricity, my first trip through was with some evening light after work and a couple flashlights, I’m planning on checking things out better this weekend. If I found anything even remotely like your neighbors building, I’d have to think the best thing might be to strip off the current flooring (some tile, some carpet), and rent a sander and finish it off. This building I’d have to say seems to have been more commercial than industrial as there aren’t any large doors to speak of.

              Tony – you’re right, that cool butcher-block look! I remember visiting the Boeing Museum (or whatever it’s really called) and they had some of it set up that way, it looked incredible! That would really make a nice floor, but I’m afraid that’s beyond my patience and beyond my budget!

              Bob – That’s some really great looking stuff, the whole checkerboard thing gives me wood! But I’d be a little concerned about the blue curlies that often find their way onto the floor from my mills, I might be surprised though, it might hold up better than I think, check out the compressive strength though! I’d have to say that’s a bit beyond my budget also, a guy can dream though!

              ERBenoit – is there a basement or crawl space under you, or is your wood floor ultimately over a concrete slab?

              Once again, thanks for the great input.

              Chandler

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              • #8
                Originally posted by chandler0109
                Wow! Thanks for the quick responses guys!
                ERBenoit – is there a basement or crawl space under you, or is your wood floor ultimately over a concrete slab? Chandler
                My shop is on the second floor of a three story building. There is a full first floor (8' ceiling) and basement below. As I had mentioned, I have no idea as to what or how the sub-floor is construced nor what is actually sits on. I am suspecting it is on concrete.
                Last edited by ERBenoit; 11-14-2007, 12:38 PM.
                Paying Attention Is Not That Expensive.

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                • #9
                  1880 was a good year...

                  My building was also built in 1880 which, around Vicksburg, is not all that old.
                  James Kilroy

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                  • #10
                    A wooden floor is best for the old back if you have a good one why not leave it alone ? Or put down some thin plywood on top to prevent it from damaging the floor you have if it's very nice wood.Alistair
                    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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                    • #11
                      Actually, aesthetically speaking, i really think a wood floor is neat. If i was going to a small job shop for a one off, unique part, i like going to the old-fashioned machine shops because it gives me the impression that the machinist is well experienced. Not to be discriminatory or anything, but i like doing buisness with small shops and older mechanics/machinists/etc. Seems like they always get the job done better and faster.

                      This is sorta off-topic but my brother-in-law took a shaft that had a bearing sieze up into a local shop. The machinist was orginally a blacksmith at the brick factory, then a machinist when the factory got updated to include central power and then he bought most of the machines when the factory closed. Needless to say he's getting up there in age...

                      Anyhow, this shaft needed a new keyway cut and about a 1" wide area built up. There was 3/16" + pitting that needed to be built up and this guy did the whole thing for 5 bucks. You can't hardly buy the electrodes for 5 bucks, plus he got it done fast. Reminds of Sir John (not the age bit but the fact that he gets stuff done so fast)
                      Last edited by Fasttrack; 11-14-2007, 05:05 PM.

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                      • #12
                        My old TriBeCa shop had an 1865 softwood wood floor that had had sections covered in thin masonite when it was a woodshop. It all sucked in as far as keeping it clean.

                        This may sound crazy, but what about laminate flooring boards? The 8mm snap lock stuff costs ~$1.50/ft at Costco, sweeps like a dream, it impervious to most chemicals and if you don't glue it can be disassembled to replace a damaged section if needed. The main problem I see with it is what to put under it, the usual thin closed cell foam wouldn't hold up a having a Bridgeport planted on it, but it might not matter. I've put laminate over some pretty uneven apartment floors, so having a section compressed down could be just fine.

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                        • #13
                          Gelfex

                          Laminate is durable easy to lay and easy to clean, but slippery when clean and dry and murderously slippery with liquids on top. (I've had 600 sq ft of laminate in kitchen, dining, and living room for 3 years now).

                          Cam
                          Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by camdigger
                            Gelfex

                            Laminate is durable easy to lay and easy to clean, but slippery when clean and dry and murderously slippery with liquids on top. (I've had 600 sq ft of laminate in kitchen, dining, and living room for 3 years now).

                            Cam
                            You could screen it to take the gloss off. Or even, after screening, it spread a coat sanded urethane! I guess I've only had wood or cement, so slipperyness isn't on my scope. My biggest complaint has aways been sweepability.

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                            • #15
                              Because you're going to be living upstairs it might be a good idea to give a lot of thought to an outside fire exit, too. Shop fires often start up after the doors are shut, and because of the chemicals found in many shops they can burn hot and fast. My shop is right below my bedroom and I have been known to get up out of bed and do a walk-around only to learn my neighbors have lit a fireplace fire. I also don't think I have enough extinguishers outside of the shop so will be buying more. And of course there's very loud smoke alarms there. Sorry for diverting your topic a bit.

                              As for flooring, I wonder if big cafeteria kitchens have the right idea - one flooring for equipment and another for those who walk around all day. I'm going to try a lattice work at my lathe and mill workstations to provide relief for walking/standing on, and for dispersing chips until I get the vacuum out.

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