Refinishing 100 Year Old Wood Floors
When we bought our house, the appraiser said the floors on our second floor were ‘detrimental to the value of our home’. That really ticked my husband and I off. Sure they were ugly, but detrimental to the value? Come on! Check out how we turned, a negative into a positive when we refinished our old wood floors in our 140+ year old home.
At first we thought we’d have to replace the floors as well. We even bought new flooring, since we thought we had to replace all the flooring upstairs. My husband rented a sander, so we could even out the floors to prepare for the new flooring.
We read there are two ways to install new wood flooring: 1. put down sub flooring 2. sand down existing floor so it’s even. (you might even need to sand down before putting the sub flooring)
Once we (he) sanded down the flooring, we discovered the flooring was in great shop, just ugly at a glance. There were water damaged boards that would need to be replaced, but a lot less expensive to keep the charm, than cover it up.
Refinishing Old Hardwood Floors With Gaps
With old homes, a 1 inch thick board, is actually 1 inch thick. When you buy a 1 inch board at the store, it’s 3/8″ thick or 3/4″ thick, it’s less. So your choice to get a 1 inch board is to go to a mill and have them make boards the correct thickness, or buy a planer and make them yourself. We bought a planer and planed down 2 inch boards down to the correct thickness (we used the shavings for mulch for the garden and flowers). This helped us replace the water damaged boards with boards of the same height and keep the gaps to a minimum.
Determine what boards need to be replaced and cut out the old boards, making sure to steer clear of electrical wires, plumbing and nails. Definitely wear eye and hearing protection, it’s messy. Block off the doors so the dust is contained in one room. Use your saw to cut in between the boards and remove the damaged pieces. Hammers and crow bars are a must. But don’t damage the boards around what you are replacing.
You will need to make sure you cut back the boards to the next floor joist too. (so many things to consider to make it look right).
Water Damage in Old Wood Floors
We found water damaged boards and below them were charred boards, sometimes in the middle of the room (what did these people do!). We sometimes had to take another board and sister the board (attach it to the one next to it), to give it support.
Fix the Wood Floors Right
We had damaged boards in one of the bedrooms that we had to replace. The previous owner had also put the register under the trim and edge of the room. So we moved the register out from the trim boards and replaced the boards.
You need to find the joists and cut back to them and feather in (not have all the boards end at the same place), so it looks like it’s been there forever.
If boards aren’t fitting, you can give them a 45 degree cut to help it fit in better.
Finishing the Old Wood Floors
Last steps once the boards are in, is to sand the boards down so they are even and no lips from the new boards, that you could potentially trip over. If you are sanding the old boards to feather in with new boards, be sure you don’t sand too much from the old boards or you may have waves in the look of your flooring.
Sand the boards, wipe them down. Vacuum up all the dirt and then stain the wood (if you want to stain..no pressure here). Allow it to dry and then put down 3-4 coats of polyurethane (maybe more, depending on how you want it to look). Follow the directions on the cans of stain and polyurethane.
We had 1500 square feet of flooring to complete. It took us 3 months to complete getting it done, working at night and mostly on the weekends. This was mainly my husband doing all the work himself (no crew). I helped stain and poly while keeping the kids off the floors.
And when the bank appraiser came back, he was impressed that we salvaged the old wood. He said he was impressed with what we had done.
What old wood floors do you need to refinish?
You can also upcycle old wood flooring and make a medicine cabinet.