Most commonly installed are interlocking sheathing panels. This type of sheathing is generally 5/8" thick, and manufactured as either plywood or aspenite (commonly referred to as "chipboard") in 4` x 8` sheets. The sheets come with the long edges designed to interlock with a tongue on one edge, and a grove on the opposing edge. They are installed by simply pushing or pounding the sheets together, and nailing or screwing them to the joist work, in the same manner as raw sheathing. It is often the cheapest to install.
Raw sheathing comes in 4`x8` sheets, most often installed as 3/4" thick plywood panels. This type of sheathing is adequate for spanning joist work spaced up to 24" apart. The sheathing is lain with the joints staggered in such a matter, that no two edge joints line up with adjoining sheets. It is very easy to install, requiring the least amount of labour. The sheets are fastened with either 1-1/2" flooring screws, or 2-1/2" nails, spaced about 8" apart. Although not required, it is a good idea to provide backers or supports under the joints, between sheets which run perpendicular to the framed floor assembly.
Another way to prevent undue and excessive wear on your hardwood floors or wooden floors is to use scatter or throw rugs in high traffic areas. You may even be tempted to use a center rug piece for decor. Now that you and I have gotten past the fun stair rail slide and onto the floor, it is utterly important that we stay clear of injury -- Ensure that your throw, scatter or centerpiece rug either has sufficient non-skid backing or that you lay a non-slip material between it and your wood floor.
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