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Old 01-09-2020, 02:28 PM   #1
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Cedar Fence boards as floor/celing/interior

I want to rip the floor out to insulate it but not sure exactly what route i want to go yet. I was hoping to use rockwool insulation for fire and soundproofing but the calculations so far look like its going to be $2300, compared to 2" foam at like $300.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Thermash...3010/100573703

that's the stuff I'm looking at, R13.

I see most people put plywood down, then another type of flooring. What I was thinking was using sanded "1x6"x6' Cedar fence boards instead of plywood. They're about the same cost ($2/board in bulk) but would require a bit more finesse when installing. I was thinking about adding tongue and groove on a table saw for stability and would probably have to plane/sand them myself. Would this be problematic at all? I was thinking of using some sort of construction adhesive to secure them down, but so far open to suggestions.

I would also like to do the ceiling as well, and would probably want to do the sides and interior as well to tie it all together. Plus I really like cedar's ability to resist decay in damp environments. Any excess I'd like to build a sauna with on my property (or in the bus, sealed bathroom?). I'm also trying to avoid as many building materials that off gas or made with chemicals like some plywood.

Are there any sealers i could use on the floor to protect it from stains and water while still feeling natural?
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:37 PM   #2
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"1x6"x6' Cedar fence boards would not be very strong, I would worry about it cracking, splintering and falling apart on a floor.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:55 PM   #3
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What about with a wood layer to sit on and a few coats of tung oil?
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:04 PM   #4
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I'm using 3" T&G cedar on my ceiling. It's a very soft wood and would not fare well on a floor application if left unfinished. If you finish it, you lose all the nice cedar odor.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:04 PM   #5
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I think the foam is going to offgas as much or even more then plywood. I also expect that it will be less over time, so that by the time the build is done it will not be a factor, unless you or someone in the family is sensitive to it.

I would put plywood under the ceder if it is going on top of foam board. This will distibute the weight better.

Varnish/urathene would be a good coating for it. Tung oil if you want natural.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:39 PM   #6
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Marc does bring up a good point about it being soft. It is not normally used for flooring. If you do go with it I might suggest that shoes stay at the door, so only bare or stocking feet are on it. We do that anyway in our bus and home. After all our bus is our home away from home, so we treat it the same way.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:40 PM   #7
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cro-magnum man I believe invented plywood and paneling, amazing inventions for floors and curved ceilings (weight distribution and bending).

off gassing isn't much of an issue in diesel and pot and composting toilet off gassing rigs.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:18 PM   #8
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Those fence boards are green. They are going to shrink in width leaving gaptosis
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:29 PM   #9
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One could always pick up used fencing for a fraction of the price of new (perhaps even free) from fencing companies. It will already be dried out and ready to be worked.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:43 AM   #10
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I would worry about it cracking
Funny you should mention that: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6bNnqJhZKq/

Edit: nm, it's pine, not cedar. I guess the point is any wood can crack?
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:58 AM   #11
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I'm using 3" T&G cedar on my ceiling. It's a very soft wood and would not fare well on a floor application if left unfinished. If you finish it, you lose all the nice cedar odor.

Can I get a photo of your ceiling?

I was planning on using the first few feet as a vestibule where people can sit down and take their shoes off before entering (I want a wall/lockable door just behind the first set of wheel wells for privacy/security). My ideal setup would not allow shoes in the bus for cleanliness reasons but living in the forest it isn't always that easy. By adding that little area in the front with a door I can sorta train myself to be more diligent.

They do sell cedar flooring (~$3/sq-ft) but it might be a different portion of the trunk for stronger the wood. I did want to put some sort of plywood down to distribute the weight over the insulation a little better, but figured the tongue and grove wold help accomplish that. Adding plywood sorta defeats the purpose of using cedar, but I wouldn't mind both if I could manage. the T/G might not be strong enough on its own though.



I want to see what 5-7 coats of tung oil can do before I rule out the possibility of a softwood floor. An old cane maker told me that tung oil is the only oil that actually strengthens the wood when it dries (and that linseed and others reinforces, but doesn't harden like tung oil). He showed me his walking stick with 3 coats of tung oil and it felt like it was coated with an epoxy, but much more natural feel, more like a super smooth gloss polish. I thought it was some sort of high density plastic at first. And its food safe (using 100% pure tung oil).

I might get a board or two and do a few stress tests to see how well it holds up. I wouldn't mid loosing the cedar smell of the floor if the rest of the place will be made out of it.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:25 AM   #12
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What about with a wood layer to sit on and a few coats of tung oil?
Cedar fence slats are a soft wood and crude grade. They are great for exterior vertical applications such as fences but will no hold up well to wear and tear on a floor.

If you can get the materiel for free and you have nothing else to use ? It would/could work, you might be repairing the walk ways soon and get some gnarly splinters in your feet. If you are spending money on your floor there are many more durable and practical floor applications out there in that price range.

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Funny you should mention that: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6bNnqJhZKq/

Edit: nm, it's pine, not cedar. I guess the point is any wood can crack?
When a tree is milled they grade the wood and cut materiel according to it. Someone will usally cut a nice beam out of the center of it, the left over side pieces will be milled down to 2xs and 1xs nicer side pieces could be interior grade 1x6s for saunas or trim board, lesser quality side pieces for fence slats and shingles.
Fence slats in general are lower quality(and less expensive) because they are just out in the yard. Structurally they do not have to be that tough, they just need to withstand a occasional soccer ball. If they break an average home owner or handy man can replace it in a few minutes.

Pine and cedar is a soft wood it will crack much easier then a hardwood.

-In the instagram pic linked it looks like they have 1x2 pine slates on the ceiling ? I can't see any cracks but they did not stagger the seams which tends to looks poor in the finished installation and creates weaker sheathing strength.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phychotron View Post
I was planning on using the first few feet as a vestibule where people can sit down and take their shoes off before entering (I want a wall/lockable door just behind the first set of wheel wells for privacy/security). My ideal setup would not allow shoes in the bus for cleanliness reasons but living in the forest it isn't always that easy. By adding that little area in the front with a door I can sorta train myself to be more diligent.

They do sell cedar flooring (~$3/sq-ft) but it might be a different portion of the trunk for stronger the wood. I did want to put some sort of plywood down to distribute the weight over the insulation a little better, but figured the tongue and grove wold help accomplish that. Adding plywood sorta defeats the purpose of using cedar, but I wouldn't mind both if I could manage. the T/G might not be strong enough on its own though.



I want to see what 5-7 coats of tung oil can do before I rule out the possibility of a softwood floor. An old cane maker told me that tung oil is the only oil that actually strengthens the wood when it dries (and that linseed and others reinforces, but doesn't harden like tung oil). He showed me his walking stick with 3 coats of tung oil and it felt like it was coated with an epoxy, but much more natural feel, more like a super smooth gloss polish. I thought it was some sort of high density plastic at first. And its food safe (using 100% pure tung oil).

I might get a board or two and do a few stress tests to see how well it holds up. I wouldn't mid loosing the cedar smell of the floor if the rest of the place will be made out of it.

SMART idea to have a vestibule to take your shoes off. Doesn't even have to be that big, just enough space to make sure you actually do it. Even if you don't follow through with the cedar floor, try to follow through with the vestibule. I wish we'd had a way to, it'll really help keep your living area clean.
The T&G probably won't add much strength since cedar is a soft wood, the grain is fairly open, and the T&G would be running with the grain. You might be able to get away with a thinner layer of plywood or underlayment...just for rigidity.
I don't know about tung oil, but boiled linseed oil has a chance of fostering mold and mildew so I'd avoid that.


I REALLY like your idea of cedar fencing for the flooring. It's soft and comfy on the feet and lightweight. You might be able to get around the shrinkage by picking through the boards and finding the lightest/driest ones in the pack. Could even let them sit in the sun for a bit to dry even more. If you've got the saw and the planer to do some finish milling, I think it's a great idea. Don't stress about covering the "cedar smell", it's not aromatic cedar like in a cedar box anyway.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:55 AM   #14
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-In the instagram pic linked it looks like they have 1x2 pine slates on the ceiling ? I can't see any cracks but they did not stagger the seams which tends to looks poor in the finished installation and creates weaker sheathing strength.
In the upper left corner the end of one piece is clearly cracked (unless my eyesight is worse than I think it is) and there seems to be another crack like that in the upper right. I'm surprised it's not even worse than that, but then it is a brand-new ceiling.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:48 AM   #15
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In the upper left corner the end of one piece is clearly cracked (unless my eyesight is worse than I think it is) and there seems to be another crack like that in the upper right. I'm surprised it's not even worse than that, but then it is a brand-new ceiling.
I see the cracks now. In general 1"x2" pine is pretty low grade wood, usually used for furring strips and non-finish grade applications. But hand picked 1"x should be sufficient for a school bus ceiling IMO.

Some lumber yards are better then others, many will toss the rejected lumber back on to the next pile and before long you have a large pile of junk.
In a good lumber yard you can go out by yourself and hand pick all your stuff. If you get lucky and get a good pile to start with and choose only the good stuff you can pull some decent wood out of ordinary 1"x pine stuff. Nice enough to trim out an interior.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:55 PM   #16
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I guess you could say i'm 'on the fence' with the issue. i was thinking I could get 15 boards to make one 6' section across my bus as a test area while i demo it. See how it holds up. Though it might be better to just use 5-6 just in case they get damaged.
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:02 PM   #17
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I think if you want to go this route a better approach might be shopping around for some kiln dried material that will probably cost a little more, but will give a better finished result and take less effort to finish. Look around for used material on Craigslist. I once found someone selling bowling alley lanes. I could go for some of that!
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:16 PM   #18
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I think if you want to go this route a better approach might be shopping around for some kiln dried material that will probably cost a little more, but will give a better finished result and take less effort to finish. Look around for used material on Craigslist. I once found someone selling bowling alley lanes. I could go for some of that!
One guy did his floor with repurposed bowling alley. Ironically, he did not have a bowling alley layout.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:29 PM   #19
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I think if you want to go this route a better approach might be shopping around for some kiln dried material that will probably cost a little more, but will give a better finished result and take less effort to finish. Look around for used material on Craigslist. I once found someone selling bowling alley lanes. I could go for some of that!
great idea, found a guy on craigslist selling it for cheaper than the fence boards. 'cabin grade' kiln dried boards. I'm gonna pick up a few and see how they hold up. Though The more I'm thinking about it the more I should just put the Cedar down. If it gets damaged I can always put some laminate down on top.

Cedar is $185, sanded plywood is $306.63
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Old 01-10-2020, 04:39 PM   #20
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If you plan on putting screws or nails into that softwood, I would warn against it. Plywood is much stronger and will hold screws better than lumber. There is a reason why roofers use plywood for their decking, also sheet metal screws will hold better than wood screws because of the larger threads.
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