Log End Flooring — 28 Comments

  1. Hello, I am thinking of laying a log end floor over concrete in a barn foyer. My question is this: does the wood need to be cured first to prevent moisture and splitting? I also plan on putting sawdust between them and covering it all in several layers of polyurethane. Also thinking the slices should be about 2 inches wide. Please help with any advice you may have to share. Thank you.

    • Yes, the log ends should be cured and dry or they will shrink. Plain sawdust will absorb a tremendous amount of urethane; you might consider mixing the sawdust with wet lime or clay to make it more solid. 2 inch thick slices should do fine, if you have enough room for that height. I think they should be at least one inch thick.

    • Log ends for flooring do need to be seasoned or you would risk a lot of shrinkage so the grout would no longer fill the voids.

  2. I’m looking to have this log end flooring done with the house I am purchasing in watervliet ny… Is there any recommended companies that do this in watervliet ny???

  3. I have received a request from a client of Ipe Cobbles for an outdoor patio. He is looking for a 4″ cobble between 4″x4″ to 4″x8″ We are thinking of laying it on light sand for very good drainage. Any body has experience with this type of installation?

    • Some considerations: Ideally the cobbles would have a fairly flat bottom to resist rotating out of place. They should be large enough that they don’t get knocked out of position when walked on. Fill the gap between cobbles with sand or small gravel to help lock in place and create a surface that’s easier to walk on.

  4. I love these designs. You may like to know, My Father, born in 1900 worked on his non working farm for over 40 years, planting over 2000 seedlings a year.These are now huge, but he heated his home in a little town with all of his wood, dried for 1,2, or 3 years, in his barns . He made sidewalks from tree slices to my playhouse, clotheslines, and the alley which held up just beautifully. At 86 years old, he called me and said, Mary, I am getting old..can only cut and load one trailer of wood to bring home each day. I told him there are men who cannot lift a chainsaw at that age. He loved wood and would love your work… is great……He could tell the type of wood it was even without anhy bark..a true lumberman…… Please share with your designers….My best to you…..

  5. Valuable information you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts into the stuff you post!!

    • This seems like an indoor idea or at least under cover. You want to minimize wood movement and protect the wood as much as possible.

  6. G’day , my lovely bride and I had to fell an old BlackWalnut that was threatening out house and we love the idea of using it for end log flooring? Is how thick or thin can we go with black walnut

  7. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of poly fumes.

    Then again, I’m not a big fan of the fumes that come out of construction adhesive that you recommended for sticking the wood tiles to the floor either. However, sometimes it makes sense to use the product that works the best.

    I would love to find a better alternative, but there’s no way I would recommend cement based grouts in this instance.

    Cementicious grouts work great with ceramic or stone tile, but not with wood.

    Heck, I would recommend experimenting with an earthen floor mix type grout before I would recommend cement. At least an earthen floor mix can have some give to it. Especially if that earthen mix is sealed in the grout joints with linseed oil or wax. I still suspect that an earthen grout mix may need to be replaced after a while, though. However, with the correct earthen mix, I bet it will last a lot longer than cement based grout. The earthen mix is a lot nicer to work with than cement too.

    As I said, I’m very open to a quality natural alternative if someone comes up with one. If they do, I hope they post about it.

    At some point, most people want a floor that will last for decades. I don’t think that’s too much to ask from a floor.

    I wonder how difficult it would be to insert thin cork banding between tiles? That might work pretty well and have some give in the joints. Especially if it were glued in, sanded down, then sealed in place.

    Suddenly I’m having flashbacks to a Dan Phillips floor made entirely out of used wine corks. It was incredible… but I digress. (Google “Dan Phillips wine cork floor” if interested in that.)

    • Yeah, any time you combine dissimilar materials you have different rates of expansion and contraction that cause cracking. I just couldn’t think of a better alternative. Now I’m thinking about lime-sawdust. Mix the sawdust from cutting the slices with lime. Hempcrete is similar and should work, but it’s hard to get in some places. These materials would not sand well. You’d want to sand the wood first and add the filler between slices.

      There’s no way I’d use a thick plastic floor material though. I avoid and get rid of unnatural materials that offgass fumes as much as practical.

  8. I don’t recommend trying to cut the slices with a chainsaw.

    I recommend using a chainsaw to buck the fallen tree into manageable pieces, or just usee firewood that has already been bucked. Another option is to used reclaimed wood. This would be a great technique to use with old timbers, such as a timberframe beam that has cracked and can’t be trusted as a structural member anymore.

    Then use a tool that can give repeatable slices of the same and even thickness. A bandsaw with a good table, miter slot and miter gauge to give even slices, and a fence to give consistent repeatable thickness of the slices. A tablesaw works great, but only if the wood being used is small enough diameter or thickness to be cut with the depth of cut available on the table saw. It would be a very simple matter to make a v-groove jig that rides in the miter slot that will very securely hold a round log perpendicular to the saw blade. Simple jigs like this are critical when making thousands of repeated cuts. They save lots of time and dramatically increase safety.

    Ideally, use a tool that has good dust collection, you’ll want the sawdust for use later.

    Consistent and even thickness of the slices is very important, or it will become a nightmare lay the floor and have it come out flat and level.

    It is easiest to sand the floor with a floor sander after the slices have been stuck down to the floor.

    If you are going to stain the floor, it may be smart to stain it before you grout. Think this through. If you want a contrasting color for the grout, the time to create that contrast is before you apply the grout to the floor. On the other hand, that may not be the look you are going for. Just be aware of your options before you apply the grout.

    CEMENT BASED GROUTS ARE ALMOST NEVER USED WITH THIS TYPE OF FLOORING. The wood tiles will expand and contract slightly as moisture levels change in the atmosphere. This leads to bad cracks in the cement based grouts, and often even causes the grout to pop out of the joints. It’s important to use a grout that will expand and contract at the same rate as the floor tiles. That means a sawdust based grout bound together with a binder that has some flexibility to it.

    Use the sawdust you created cutting up all your tiles to make the grout that fills the gaps between the wooden tiles, as well as to fill any tiles that develop cracks. This assures that the grout will be made of the same wood species as the rest of the floor. Cracks in the wood tiles are very common, don’t stress over them. Just fill them with grout. The cracks actually add character and make the floor look better and more natural, in my opinion, as long as the cracking isn’t extreme.

    Most of the floor installers of this type make their own grout by mixing the sawdust with polyurethane sealers and floor finishes to make a wood pulp paste grout. Smear it on the floor wet just like regular grout for tiles. Wipe off the excess. Let it dry. Sand the floor to smooth out the surface. Then finish the floor with your final floor finish.

    It would be wise to experiment on a small test surface or a closet floor with your grout mix. Put some down, clean off the surface, let it dry and sand it. Do it on small sections with various ratios of ingredients until you find one that you like best.

    While polyurethane may not be the most natural substance for use in a natural house, it probably is the most consistent product to use in this case. If someone comes up with their own recipe for a sawdust grout using natural materials, and ends up with a floor that holds up to traffic over time, I hope they write it up and publish their efforts. I know I’d love to hear about it.

    This type of floor is a lot of labor, but the results can be amazing.

    Enjoy the process.
    It may be hard work, but it also can be great fun.

    Probably a great group project. Many hands not only make for light work, but also for a lot more fun.

    • Cement grout may very well crack, but is the best alternative all that plastic/urethane emitting fumes? Hmm. I thought of sawdust and yellow or white glue, but that would take buckets of glue.

      Cutting the slices: I tried to think of a saw that most people had access to. A lot more people have chainsaws than bandsaws with say 10-12″ cutting height. You could use smaller logs, of course, but that would change the look. Be sure to use a miter gauge so the log doesn’t get pulled into the blade.

      It would be tricky spinning logs on a table saw since most logs are not perfectly round. But it is an option.

      Using a floor sander would create a flat surface that’s easier to clean, so I’m with you on that.

  9. I think the slices could be “pre-layed” on mdf or osb sheets(or half sheets) in the shop, and then one just have to fill up the edge areas on the spot, and install the cement(might be a good idea, to mix sawdust with some kind of plastic that hardens on air, instead of using cement). I guess it would be a bit more easy to handle, especially if one wants to cover 30-50sqmeters or more…

  10. Question from Clarissa: “I wanted to use these for the Log End Flooring in my home, but around where I live at, no one seems to know how or where to start with the project.

    If you could just give me some basic Ideas as to where to start even, I would greatly appreciate that! Such as thickness of the slices, how long if at all it needs to dry out, what to preserve it with, grout or fillers in between slices, what type of adhesive to use, sealant…”

    Owen: Actually it’s a fairly easy process, although time consuming. First, select your trees. I recommend standing dead hardwood trees of a suitable diameter. This will eliminate or greatly reduce the time needed to cure the wood. Green wood (wood from live trees) could take a year to dry in an open air shed out of the sun. Good, solid, dead wood could be used immediately if it’s dry inside. (Maybe cure the pieces a few weeks just to be sure.) After felling the tree, start cutting off 2″ pieces with a chainsaw. Try your best to keep them all uniform in thickness and make nice straight cuts. Inspect them as you go to ensure the wood is usable. Discard rotted pieces. Move to a shop or covered work area and sand one side. You could use a belt sander with 80 grit or orbital air sander with 80 grit. You need a big compressor for the air sander. Move the sander around continuously for a smooth surface. You could sand them again with 100 grit for a finer finish if you want. Consider applying wood finish at this time so cement grout doesn’t stick to the log ends. Use your preferred type of floor finish (polyurethane, varnish, etc.). You can keep most of the odors out of the home by finishing them outside under cover or in a shop.

    Laying the log end flooring: The easiest method is probably using a caulk gun to apply construction adhesive. You might find the same adhesive available in a tub and use a putty knife. Apply the adhesive to the unsanded side and press onto the floor. The floor must be dry and clean. Do not walk on the glued pieces for 1-2 days. Start in a far corner and work towards a door just like laying tile. Come back later and add cement in between the log ends. You can buy oxide pigments to make any color you want. Mix the cement outside and wear gloves to avoid making a big mess. Black pigment will stain everything and ruin your clothes. One person could place the cement and another person could smooth it out to speed the process. Recess the cement a little below the surface of the log ends. You can seal the cement after it cures a few weeks with masonry sealer.

    Hire a tile setter if need be since this process is very similar to setting tile.

  11. I really like the floor in photo second from top. I wonder how they overlapped the circular slices.
    I attempted a search for information on how to install such floors and found only installation for commercial wood tiles. Know of any online or otherwise sources on how log/beam ends are installed for flooring?

    • I imagine the log ends are only 2″ thick or so. Trace the log ends and cut the curves with a jigsaw (best), bandsaw or coping saw (very slow).

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