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Floor finishes

Posted by Henry in MI on January 11th, 2003 06:14 PM
In reply to Old-fashioned finish for old wood floors? by Margaret Fite on January 11th, 2003 10:35 AM [Go to top of thread]

Hi, Margaret. I agree that cleaning with mineral spirits, particularly in today's houses with a lot more electrical and natural gas items and appliances, is not real conducive to having a 101 year old house. Any other solvent that I know of is even more volitile though. If your weather is like ours, it is way too cold to do much. Even if we had good weather, electrical fans spark pretty easily inside. And you really want good venting if you are using a petroleum based solvent or alcohol, or similar.

I'm not for using paste wax on floors either. This can be real slippery. My wife, wanting to impress her mother-in-law, did our floors like that. The floors really shone. My mother slipped and fell. We were wearing tennis shoes/sneakers and didn't notice it. This is just a "for what it's worth". I don't like silicone based products either. The reason for that is that you can never refinish with a film finish like poly, if you so choose. The silicones will not allow the poly to flow out level.

I do know that; if they were my floors, and if there was enough wood thickness left to refinish, that I would sand and apply a couple of coats of poly this summer. If you are out of refinishable wood, I would put down new floors. Wood floors last 20-25 years between refinishings, typically, at least for oak, maple or similar hardwoods . They do not last forever. You can get wood milled to match your present floors, if that is an issue. I would do that. The only exception that comes to mind for me was if they were chestnut. Pines do not last even that long, normally, and I love southern yellow pine, just not for floors.

You are correct that I'm talking in generalizations. If you would offer more specifics about your floors, I'd be happy to comment. One thing that you can do, is as much research as you can as to what current practices are and how to care for wood with current materials. Understanding Wood Finishing, by Bob Flexner, is a great book but it is furniture oriented. Still, it's a good read and it explains why what both our mothers told us was incorrect about wood and keeping it clean and pretty.

You would have to talk to a flooring pro, and you would have to have floors that were probably more level than those in most 100 year old houses, but possibly you could float an engineered lumber floor over your old one. That would keep your old wood protected until you replaced the wood, if that's an issue for you.

Henry in MI

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