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Hardwood Floor refinish

728 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Jared355
Post moved here from a 10 year old thread by Moderator.

I'm looking for opinions and suggestions. I have a house built in 1960. We are uncovering hardwood floors through the whole place that have been under wall-to-wall carpeting for quite some time. The floors clean up nicely and are generally in good shape, but the finish is about gone. I don't believe urethanes were beginning to be used until somewhere in the mid 60s so I think this flooring is probably finished with varnish or shellac. In closets, where it has been protected more, the finish is still there. In the rooms it's hard to tell if there's any finish left at all. The wood appears to be oak. I'll measure the width when I get home but I'd say it's 1-1/2 to 2 inch wide at most.

Here's where I'm going.... I can't move out to have the floors refinished. I just can't. I would PREFER not to have to sand the floors down and start over. And here's the part some of you might find odd... I would PREFER to wax the floors. I've recently been (in the last 2 years up to now) in several older homes where the floors were oiled and then waxed. They look beautiful and more than one of these homes is over 100 years old. There's a lot to be said for the wax finishes.

I'm thinking about using Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. It dries in 4 to 6 hours. It's oil and wax combined. Oil penetrates and wax stays on top to protect. once that's on I can just wax when needed to freshen it up. I have a floor buffer to make rewaxing easier. I know it involves rewaxing every couple months when new but I also know from speaking to the owners of those homes that as long as you don't OVERwax.... which then requires stripping... the floors become "conditioned" and now they only rewax once a year or once every 2 years with some spot refreshes in high traffic areas.

So.... do you think I can do this without sanding the floors down and starting from scratch? If I put a drop of water on the floor and tile polishing (not in a closet), it doesn't stay beaded for more than a minute before I see it starting to soak into the wood. In a closet it lasts about 5 minutes. If I put isopropyl alcohol on the floor in the closet, it forms a white ring but doesn't get sticky or start to strip the finish.

I would LOVE it if I only needed to sand out the closets a bit and then could wipe the floors down with white spirit and then apply the hard wax oil.

I'm pondering whether I should just replace the carpet cuz it is shot or I should refinish the floor underneath. It has been covering with carpet for who knows how long. Will take a pic this afternoon after I pull the carpet off.
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I vote to remove existing carpet and repair as necessary and refinish the wood floors.
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My daughter bought a 70's house. An older couple had put new blue carpet in before it was sold. My daughter pulled it to replace it to find oak floors underneath. We sanded and finished it. Helped sell the house...
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I'm with John. Now, some rambling:

I did a LOT of work on the oldest Queen Ann in Olympia, Washington, the Byrd House, a heritage home. The new owners hired me as the painter, but every time someone ran into a unique woodworking problem, you'd hear someone say, "call the painter."

Part of the reason was, the job was paying well and I had the time, so when I had to paint an interior door with trim damage, I'd cut the damaged piece out and replace it on my own time. It was a fun challenge and I figured I'd never get another chance.

The repair-remodel I was hired for had a lot of money thrown at it, and I got hired for many different things because of what my other work. One thing was applying finish to newly installed cedar floors that had to match existing cedar floors (the entire house was cedar, including the skeleton (rafters, sill plates, trusses, wall framing and so on)). Too, they removed registers and needed the holes to go away.

I'd never dealt with cedar floors and was hard pressed to match the finish when an old timer working for the main contractor took me aside and mentioned it was all amber shellac. He was right. It had kept the floors alive for nearly a century, because someone took advantage of the easy touch ups (avoiding lap marks aside). I became a great fan of shellac for many things because of that job.

Later, I did many other floors, but they were all poly. Based on first hand experience using it for wood projects that had to sit in front of fire places, I employed a few tricks that seemed, as much as anything, common sense. I always started with a thinned batch of poly and flooded the floors with it. I figured, if it flowed down the sides and under the wood, GREAT. The wood would be that much better sealed against the coastal humidity changes.

As long as I kept working the finish, keeping the wood wet, hardening of the finish wouldn't begin. Then, when I was happy with how much soaked in, under and around each board, I'd walk away and let the 21% oxygen in the air do its thing with the polymerized finish, before applying the next coat in accordance with the rules of the poly finish game.

In the end, some of those finishes, that I know of, are still in pretty good shape. That is, where, before, the wood in front of the fridge, where the heat exhausted, was no longer shrinking, causing separations in the joints.

Before I left, I explained that a floor never has to be stripped, if it's maintained (damage aside). Instead, a scuff and future coats can always stand between the wood and traffic. That, of course, saves owners tidy sums.
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I would for sure remove the existing carpet!
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