- Q.I'm using a new floor
finisher, who's known as the best in this area. He saw
that we had installed oak and ash floors over rosin
paper and insisted that we should have used 30-pound
felt. He says the rosin paper will degrade over time
and won't provide any cushion between the subfloor and
the hardwood. Is he right? We only use felt in old
houses where the basement is really moist.
A.Wood flooring contractor
and consultant Howard Brickman responds: Rosin
paper, bad; 15- and 30-pound asphalt-saturated
felt, good. Installers love red rosin paper because
it is really cheap and easily covers up the dusty
subfloor, making it easier to slide the wood
flooring into position during installation. But
those reasons don't have anything to do with the
quality of the completed wood floor.
Asphalt-saturated felt, on the other hand,
performs a number of functions: It retards the flow
of moisture from the underside; it increases
friction between the bottom of the flooring and the
surface of the subfloor, resisting lateral movement
during shrinking and swelling; and it provides some
adhesion between the bottom of the flooring and the
surface of the subfloor, helping to eliminate
squeaks when the flooring is nailed properly.
And don't forget that many manufacturers and
wood flooring trade associations require you to use
15-pound asphalt-saturated felt or building paper;
failure to use it may be regarded as a defect if
you get a complaint.
Finally, at some point new houses become old
houses, and since you can't be certain about
long-term moisture conditions, why not build for
the long run?