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We Renovated an Original Wooden Floor: Case Study

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 4 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Floor Wooden Floor Wood Floor Renovate

The Lowe family had lived in their home for almost 15 years before they decided to renovate their original wooden floor. It was a major job but one they are glad they eventually carried out.

Alan explained:

“We moved into our house when our children were little and for years did not contemplate even taking the carpets up to see what lay underneath. The previous owners had re-carpeted the property not long before and not only were we frantically busy with our jobs and our young family but we felt there was no point really doing up the house in our own style until the kids were older.

Finding the Floor

We did suspect there must be Original Wooden Floors beneath the carpets but we had no idea what condition they were in - so the day we finally started lifting them, it was something of a surprise. We decided to start in the hall but quickly got carried away. With the skip outside ready to take away the old carpet, we started ripping it up – tearing and rolling the carpet and gathering up the disintegrating underlay as best we could. Then we had a good sweep and stood back to survey what was underfoot.

Floor in Need of Work

I have to say, it was not great. There were areas of the old Pine Floor that were in fine condition but here and there, there were bad cracks and even holes. In some places an old board had obviously been hastily replaced with a new one – with no attempt to match it up either in colour, style or width. One section of the floor in the living room had clearly been polished and varnished before. This did not look too bad. At the other end, however, a thick black product had been used around the edges – and somehow that would have to come off.

Repairing and Sanding

We decided to start by re-sanding the whole thing. We pulled out any unsightly nails and took up floorboards that did not match, or were cracked or broken. We then took careful measurements and samples of the original floor and headed off to find better pieces to plug the gaps. In the end, we found the best place was the reclamation yard. After an hour of sorting through the piles, we eventually pieces in a similar size and style. Here we found large boards that would just slot in and pieces that we could carefully cut down to fit between planks that were not quite wide enough. We headed home, replaced them and then picked up the hired sander.

Sanding floors is a miserable job and we did consider hiring a specialist to do it – but in the end, interests of economy won out and we put on our masks and goggles and set to it ourselves. The thick dark coating was hardest to remove but eventually we did it. In some places that were tricky to reach we did have to get down on our hands and knees with a hand-held sander. Where there were deep scratches in the wood, we sanded them away.

Cleaning and Varnishing

The next step was to clean the whole floor – old boards and those we had replaced – with white spirit and then to varnish. We chose a clear varnish and over the course of the next few days we gave the floor several coats. By the end, we were thrilled. It was impossible to tell which area of the floor had been varnished before and which was newly down. The replacement boards and small pieces we used to fill the gaps blended in seamlessly – and we had a wooden floor that looked as good as new.

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