Q. We build a lot of reproduction Colonial homes and have problems with wide pine flooring shrinking, warping, and splitting. What is the best way to control this?

A. There is only one way to control shrinking —use dry lumber. You should use a moisture meter to make sure that the flooring has no more than 11% moisture content. In order to get this, it may have to be ordered special from the drying kiln, or you can sticker and air-dry the flooring for several months before use. It used to be common practice to store flooring in the house at least 60 days before it was installed to allow the wood to come into equilibrium with the house.

To prevent splitting, wide flooring should have tongue-and-groove or half-lapped edges. Toenail the board at the tongue (or bottom lap) and then drive a screw about 1 1/2 inches from the groove (or overlapping edge) along the joists. Predrill an oversized pilot for the screw (see illustration). The pilot hole should be several sizes larger than the screw shank to allow the wood to move on the screw without splitting. The counterbored screw hole is then plugged for appearance.