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Slip Slidin' Away!

Posted by Linda & Ann on October 4th, 2002 09:23 PM

We just moved in to a large home built in the 1960's complete with a theater. This is, or was, a genuine theater complete with a 35mm projector and built in seats on a sloping floor. Since this space was constructed directly over an existing cathedral ceiling the floor slopes at the 3-12 pitch of the original roof rafters.

The seats have long since been removed and holes patched. I'm told the big 15 foot wide by 18 foot long sloping hardwood floor was re-finished only 2 years ago with spar varnish.

It's a very unique space and my kids want to use it as a bedroom and playroom. The 14 degree slant doesn't seem to bother them. It wouldn't be that much trouble to frame level platforms for their beds and furniture.

Here's the catch!

The spar varnish on the floor has worn to a somewhat dull shine and become spectacularly slippery!

If you walk on it with rubber soled shoes or bare feet footing is secure. In socks it becomes an ice rink! Since the only door is on the uphill side you're trapped if you forget to take your socks off!

On a cool dry day it's a real trip to watch my kids lay on this sloped floor in their polyester basketball uniforms! If they lay still they'll slip a few feet and eventually stop. But they flail their bare arms and legs about making themselves slide down the smooth hardwood like an ice skater who has just fallen on the ice!

Except for the slipperiness the finish is in good shape. A local refinisher (who won't work on it because of the angle) suggested I wax the floor with a good grade carnauba wax such as Jonson's or Bucher's to bring back the shine and give the surface some grip.

I always thought wax would make a surface more slippery. Not less.

A neighbor suggested carpeting. I know carpet would be absolutely safe in this situation. But my kids love dragging each other around on this slick floor.

What about re-coating the floor with gloss polyurethane like they use on a gym floor?

I'm told that polyurethane is softer and it has friction characteristics very similar to rubber.

I'm hoping it would add just enough friction to keep somebody from taking a really nasty spill if they hit this thing in the middle of the night in a pair of socks!

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