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Floor Restoration: Solid Wood Floors

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 2 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Wood Floor Restoration Rot Woodworm

A wood floor will last many lifetimes but it does need regular care and maintenance for that to happen. If you move into a house where the floor hasn't been looked after, or perhaps it was put in and never intended to be seen, then restoration of the wooden floor is straightforward, it's a case of knowing what you're looking at.

Wood Floor Restoration Basics

For the purposes of this article we're going to assume that the floor is still relatively level and flat. Sorting out major structural problems in floors is a job for a carpenter or joiner and possibly a structural engineer. What we'll be dealing with in this article are defects with the wood itself, problems such as rot and woodworm.

Dry Rot and Wet Rot

Dry rot is a fungus that can spread and do horrendous damage. It is completely different to wet rot, which can only grow in areas where the wood is wet. If you suspect dry rot, which is usually a fluffy white cotton wool-like growth, then get the experts in immediately. Dry rot can spread into masonry and brickwork and is far more insidious and destructive.

Wet rot can be cut out and the wood replaced but the cause of the dampness needs to be resolved first. Assuming that's been done, cut back all the affected areas until you reach good solid wood. This may entail Replacing Whole Floorboards and although this might seem like a waste, it's a case of better safe than sorry.

Woodworm in a Wood Floor

Woodworm can cause panic but it is controllable, the point is finding out if it's there and whether or not it's active. If you have the time and the wood seems still solid, or perhaps you suspect that the woodworm has already been treated, you can see if an infestation is still live by ringing each exit hole in pencil or indelible ink. Then see if any new flight holes emerge after the following May or June.

You may think that you might as well treat the problem anyway, particularly if you are on a timetable and want to get the Floor Sanded and Finished. In that case there are many proprietary woodworm treatments that can be applied.

Again you will need to cut back any affected floorboards and joists and replace all the wood. Treat the underside of the new sections and all the other boards and joists in the area with a preservative or varnish to prevent re-infestation.

Using Floorboards from Other Areas

Finally, a hint that might help if you are restoring floors in an old house. If you are having to replace sections of floorboards in a room where the floor will be sanded back and put on view, it can be tricky to get new boards that will come up to the same colour once sanded and finished. You may also find that the old boards are not a standard size, which means cutting floorboards down to fit.

You can get round this if you have other rooms where the floor is not going to be on show once the restoration is all finished. Take good floorboards from one of these rooms and put the new wood down in the rooms where they will be hidden. This won't help the problem of having to cut boards down to size but it will mean you end up with a floor that's more uniform in colour and texture.

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