Restoring Old Floors
Floors last a long time. With quality craftsmanship, it’s entirely possible the floor could be as old as one hundred years or even more. Floors do take a lot of wear and tear but if there’s carpet over it, then maybe it isn’t immediately noticeable. Then, one day the carpet comes off and there’s an old floor that definitely looks its age. When something like this comes up, you would definitely consider restoring the floor as this will be a real bonus when it’s done. An ancient floor might actually be able to add more to the charming feel of the house and since old floors were usually made to last out of high quality hardwood, there shouldn’t be a lot of structural damage to fix.
First of all, it’s important to check if it can be refinished. Just because most work was done with quality material back in the day doesn’t meant they all were, since then, just as now, not every craftsman may have been of the highest standard. Visual inspection will allow one to see thinning or cracked edges of the flooring boards which indicates the floor has been sanded too much. This means it cannot be sanded again as breakage will occur. It is also important to check for curving or bending as well as any discoloration that could indicate water damage.
Minor replacements are possible since any one floorboard can be removed and replaced. But if many are damaged this could change the entire appearance of the floor and this should be kept in mind. Discoloration will need bleaching and this must occur after sanding off the finish. In cases where carpet adhesive has been used, a drum sander is best to remove it.
Age can cause large gaps between floorboards due to humidity and temperature fluctuations. It is not always necessary to fill these but if they must be filled they can be filled by applying latex filler to the whole floor.It may also be necessary to sand with a belt sander but with old floors, always use an orbital sander if possible. This is a gentler tool and though it does work more slowly, it is less likely to cause damage.
It is normal that the wood of vintage floors is harder than modern floors because of the use of hardwood trees of old growth which were sawn in different techniques. This means that oil finish might be better to use than polyurethane since the plastic look of polyurethane can make the floor seem to have a too-shiny appearance. Furthermore, the oil helps to protect the wood and give a more natural look.
It is not always necessary to sand the floor to restore it so if the floor is too old to be sanded without damage, a buffer and sanding screen can be used. Liquid etching products can also be used. This allows to have a new finish spread over the old one. But this should only be done if major repairs aren’t needed.