General Remarks On Floors

The timbers that carry the weight should, as a rule, be laid the narrowest way of the room.

The bearing timbers may be so arranged as to tie in the principal walls, and if the building forms a corner, having two or more external walls, they may be laid in opposite directions in the alternate stories.

All parts of timber built into walls should have clear spaces round them for circulation of air.

Timbers passing over several points of support, such as joists over binders, joists or binders over party walls, and similar cases, should be in as long lengths as possible, by which their strength is greatly increased as compared with what it would be if they were cut into short lengths, just sufficient to span the intervals between each pair of supports. (See Part IV.)

Fixing uniformly loaded timbers rigidly at the ends increases their strength by one half, but this can seldom be done in practice. If the ends are built into the wall they have a tendency to strain and destroy the masonry. The want of a free circulation of air causes the timber to decay, and in any case it soon shrinks and becomes loose.

1 S.M.E. Course.

Tredgold recommends that floors should be laid with a slight rise in the centre (about 3/4 inch in 20 feet), to compensate for the settlement that will take place in the beams.

All floors near the ground should be ventilated, to secure a perfect circulation of air round all their parts. This is easily done by inserting air bricks in the walls.

For the same purpose openings should be left in the sleeper walls carrying the intermediate wall plates of ground floors.

The ground below the floor should be thoroughly drained, and covered with concrete to prevent damp from rising.

Parquet Floors have their surface formed with small pieces of wood, inlaid to a pattern. They are more the work of a cabinetmaker than of a carpenter, and do not come within the scope of these Notes.

Floors Of Short Timbers

These consist of very short pieces arranged in different ways so as to support one another, but a description of them would be more curious than useful.

Ceiling Joists1 are light beams to carry the laths for the plastering of the ceiling. They are fixed to the under side of the bearers of the floor, running at right angles to them; that is, in a Single floor to the bridging joists, in a Double or Framed floor to the binding joists.

They should be 14 inches from centre to centre where double laths are used; if more widely placed than this, the laths are likely to give with the weight of the plaster. With thinner laths the joists must be closer together.

Two inches is the best width for ceiling joists. This is sufficient to nail the laths to. If wider, the under surface of the joist interrupts the key for the plaster.


The mode of fixing ceiling joists is generally to notch them and nail them, as shown in Fig. 278.


Sometimes, however, the depth from the ceiling to the surface of floor has to be kept as small as possible, in order to gain space. With this object the ceiling joists may be tenoned in between the bridging joists or binders with chase mortises, formed either as at x or as at y, Fig. 304. This should, however, be avoided as much as possible, for the mortises weaken the bearers.


Another plan is to support the ends of the ceiling joists iff) upon fillets nailed to the bridging joists, as shown in Fig. 305.

1 Sometimes called Raglins in the North of England.

Where ceiling joists are fixed in between bearers, their lower edges are allowed to come a little below the latter, a firring1 (F in Figs.) not wider than the ceiling joist being attached to the bearer below, so as to afford a key for the plaster.

Fig. 304. Ceiling Joists Chase mortised into Binder.

Fig. 304. Ceiling Joists Chase-mortised into Binder.

Fig. 305. Ceiling Joists supported by Fillets fixed to Binder.

Fig. 305. Ceiling Joists supported by Fillets fixed to Binder.

This is advisable also, because the bearers are sure to sag, and if the under sides of the ceiling joists were flush with those of the bearers, the ceiling would be curved as in Fig. 306 (the curve in which is of course exaggerated); but by allowing them to be lower, they can be so arranged (see Fig. 307), that, after the bearer has sagged, their lower surfaces may be in a horizontal plane, so as to form a level ceiling.

Filleted 100268

Fig. 306.

Fig. 307. Ceiling Joists on Sagged Floor.

Fig. 307. Ceiling Joists on Sagged Floor.

In single floors with ceiling joists every fifth, or sixth bridging joist is generally made 2 inches or so deeper than the others, and extends below them to carry the ceiling joists (see Fig. 288).

This, as already explained, is to prevent the passage of sound, by reducing the number of points at which it is conducted through the wood.

Ceiling joists should be fixed slightly higher in the centre of the room (about 3/4 inch in 20 feet), to allow for the inevitable settlement of the floor.

In single floors of small span, the ceiling joists are frequently altogether dispensed with, and the laths nailed to the under side of the bridging joists (see section, Fig. 274).

Ceiling Joists Hung By Straps

Ceiling joists are sometimes hung from the bridging joists in a framed floor, such as that mentioned at page 127, by wooden straps, as in Fig. 308. Thus the separation between the floor and ceiling is more complete, and the sound is less readily conducted.

1 Firrings or Furrings are small rough pieces of wood attached to any piece of carpentry to bring its surface up to a required level. Sc. Ekeings.

Fig. 308. Ceiling Joists hung by Straps.

Fig. 308. Ceiling Joists hung by Straps.


The ceiling joists to which the laths are nailed somewhat interrupt the key for the plastering of the ceiling. To remedy this, and to obtain a stiffer ceiling, battens about 1 inch square, and from 12 to 14 inches apart, are sometimes nailed to the under side of the joists, crossing them at right angles. These battens keep the laths at a little distance from the joists, and thus give room for the plaster to be squeezed in behind them and form a "key."