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Best type of wood flooring for shop?

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Background:

 

I recently posted about converting my back house into a shop. I'm converting two rooms (about 600 sqft total) and I want to install a wood flooring. Both rooms are currently carpet with plywood underlayment. One room is over insulated sleepers (which I'm hoping to run dust collection under) and the other is on a concrete slab. 

 

I definitely know I want to invest in a nice looking wood floor. This space is currently a finished residential space (one room has wainscoting for crying out loud), so my shop is probably gonna end up looking like more like house with woodworking tools in it than a typical shop, but I can live with that. 

 

Questions: 

 

1) What type of flooring should I use?

- Solid wood is nice, but expensive. Is it the best choice? 

- Is engineered wood better for a shop? I've also seen people mention laminate and LVT in other threads. 

 

2) How should I install the floor? Floating, glue down, nailed down? I've heard people complain about floating floors in their shop space, so it makes me think that attaching it would be better. 

 

3) Any consideration for wood species other than appearance? I want something lightly colored like white oak. It needs to be durable enough for a shop: rolling tools around, dropping chisels, etc. 

 

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Solid wood or no wood. Laminates and engineered will get gouged below the surface layer with most things you drop in a shop. 

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Since you are after a residential look something simple and replaceable like plywood is probably out.  Have you considered carpet tiles?  Carpet tile and syntho floor tile have both come a long ways since the 70's.  There are some interesting (and non-permanent) solutions out there.

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Seems that the distance between "nice-looking residential" and power tools/ woodworking shop is too wide to be gapped acceptably. Walls will get gouged, scraped, holes punched in for power/HVAC, etc. Floors will be mangled from tools, moving projects around, etc. You may need to reset your expectations or make some compromises one way or the other. Either you have a shop, or you have a guest house, and adjust the design accordingly. I don't think there's a good min/max here that you'll be happy with.

The only recommendation I can make is that you make things reversible. If you put in cheap flooring, make it so you can change it back to residential with low effort and expense.

BTW, carpet tiles are right out, as is carpeting of any kind. Spills, dust, chips, snags, difficulty rolling heavy objects, etc. means they will annoy and frustrate you more than anything, and look like crap in about five minutes.

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25 minutes ago, ClassAct said:

Seems that the distance between "nice-looking residential" and power tools/ woodworking shop is too wide to be gapped acceptably. Walls will get gouged, scraped, holes punched in for power/HVAC, etc. Floors will be mangled from tools, moving projects around, etc. You may need to reset your expectations or make some compromises one way or the other. Either you have a shop, or you have a guest house, and adjust the design accordingly. I don't think there's a good min/max here that you'll be happy with.

The only recommendation I can make is that you make things reversible. If you put in cheap flooring, make it so you can change it back to residential with low effort and expense.

BTW, carpet tiles are right out, as is carpeting of any kind. Spills, dust, chips, snags, difficulty rolling heavy objects, etc. means they will annoy and frustrate you more than anything, and look like crap in about five minutes.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to make this shop look residential. I'm just trying to balance things out. 

A part of me wants to tear down the building to studs and rebuild the walls and floors with more shop appropriate materials. It is totally unnecessary (and against shop aesthetic) that these rooms have wainscoting, molding, etc considering that it's shop space. I'm just not sure I see the value in spending the time and money to perform that renovation. 

If I am going to keep things looking kinda nice (i.e. not renovating back to basic shop aesthetics), then I at least want to put in a floor that matches. Whether that be decent quality plywood, utility grade flooring, etc, but the existing plywood underlayment would be a bit out of balance.  

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I would suggest the cheapest "tavern grade" hardwood (oak) you can find. It will be durable enough that it won't look much different in 10 years. That is, if you really don't want to lay down some ply and be done with it.

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I'm currently looking into two options: 

1) Solid 3/4" glued down with special glue and vapor barriers. My research seems to show that this can be done properly. 

2) Engineered wood with a 1/4" solid wear layer. 

Either way, I definitely want to go with something like oak or hickory. 

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Go solid. Engineered flooring is nice to walk on, but the substrate is made of softer material. Dropping moderately heavy objects can dent deeply enough to crack the show surface.

Don't ask me how I know ....

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I would go one of two ways,  either look to buy some reuse solid flooring that had been pulled up or ply.   One of the last places I will spend money in my shop is on floor treatment. At under $2 a foot for ply,  and you thinking of running DC under it,  I'd go t/g ply. 

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+1 on the tounge and groove white oak. I used the cheap grade which has a nice aged look. Used waterlox for the finish. Happy happy happy.

Sent from my woodshop using duct tape, twine, and a bit of sawdust.

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My shop is in a basement that was finished prior to our purchase. The basement has laminate flooring. In terms of durability it is fine, no signs of wear after 2 years in the shop (rolling bases, dropping wood, clamps, glue etc.) 

The biggest downside to the laminate is that it is very very slick, especially with a little sawdust.  I haven't found a solution yet, so I use some rubber/foam mats, but even those slide more than I would like.  I found some anti-slip coatings, but haven't tried them yet. 

Whatever product you choose, think about the finish.

 

This is the coating I found. If anyone has any experience or thoughts on it that would be great.

http://www.slipdoctors.com/slippery-resilient-floors-laminate.asp

 

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Yeah, the slickness is something I've noticed with the pre-finished flooring samples I've gotten. I'm thinking about getting unfinished flooring and then doing a simple finish myself. I don't need or want shiny floors like a house. 

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A final update: I ended up going with an engineered oak. It gets installed in a few days. 

To make my decision, I did some testing with a bunch of flooring samples, some solid and some engineered. I also tested plywood for a reference. 

I sprinkled some sawdust on them. The floors with very smooth finishes became super slick. The floors that feel more like natural wood aren't bad. The plywood was slicker than some of the flooring samples. For reference, the worst of the hardwood floors was about the same as my garage's concrete floor. So I wouldn't worry too much about slickness when it comes to wood floors, but I also wouldn't get the super smooth ones. 

I also did some tests dropping a heavy object. I took a 20-30 pound log and dropped it several times on the 90 degree edge from about 3 feet high. For reference, in a pine board, I ended up with a 1/4-1/2" deep gouge. The solid flooring held up the best, barely getting any damaged. The engineered flooring was a mixed bag. Some dented, but some were barely damaged, about the same as the solid flooring. 

I feel pretty about the engineered oak choice. It's not slick, at least not compared to plywood or concrete. It's also pretty durable, handling those drops about the same as solid oak. 

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