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I need to replace the hardwood floors on the second floor of an old home. A challenge is that the existing floors are nailed directly to the floor joists, with the walls resting on top of the finish floor. There is no subfloor. I know this is a relatively common situation in older homes, but I am wondering how much of a problem this is going to cause me if I try to replace the floors. For walls running perpendicular to the floor joists, it seems like removing the hardwood up to the baseboards will be fine, since the flooring underneath the walls will be left intact and continue holding up the walls. I already know that each 3/4 inch T/G hardwood slat is nailed to every joist with 2.5 inch common nails, so the flooring is very secure.

For walls running parallel to the floor joists, however, I am going to run into issues, especially if the wall lands in between the joists. Once I cut the flooring, there will be nothing holding up the wall anymore. My thought was to cut the floor out in small sections and install cross-blocking as I go to keep the walls supported. I am wondering if this seems reasonable or if I will end up getting into trouble here. The existing floors are in really bad shape, so leaving them be is not a good option.

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    Is there any way to verify that there is in fact no blocking or other means of support between the floor joists, underneath the walls? – BigLake Apr 1 at 3:08
  • I know a floor joist runs directly underneath one of the walls, but I am not sure about any of the other walls. I don't have access from below since this is on the second floor of the home. – darkness Apr 1 at 4:17
  • I presume you've cut up some areas of the floor to confirm that there is, in fact no subflooring. It may become necessary to open the ceiling from below to install blocking prior to attempting to remove the flooring from above to ensure the wall has something to bear on while you cut out the structure. Even if the wall isn't load bearing, it has some weight and it will become a delicate balancing act trying to only do it from above. Do wait for other confirmation prior to resigning yourself to this, but I can't think of any other options... – FreeMan Apr 1 at 13:56
  • A photo may be helpful, I have seen houses sold well below there value because the floors were in bad shape, all it took was a rented drum sander and a few days work to make the floors look new. Another option is putting something on top of the T&G. – Ed Beal Apr 1 at 14:26
  • It is not that the floors need resanded. There are several areas where floor planks have cracked, or the where the tongues have snapped. This causes pretty extreme deflection points in certain areas. And even where the floor is intact, there is an uncomfortable amount of movement in the floors when stepping between joists. – darkness Apr 2 at 14:39
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if the wall parallel to the joists is not over a joist it is not a structural wall, and so your blocking plan would work to support the wall you will probably need further blocking between the blocking to support the edges of your new floor, unless you plan to remove the remnants and install your new flooring under the walls.

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  • Not sure why the downvote reversed since no comment. you might say “normally the walls not supported...” but in any case blocking for a temporary support should work as you explained. – Ed Beal Apr 1 at 14:29
  • A structural engineer told us that all the interior walls upstairs were non load bearing, which is why I am not too scared of just using blocking between the joists. – darkness Apr 2 at 14:37

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