Refinishing 100 yr old white pine floor (subfloor, paint, living room, kitchen) — House

Refinishing 100 yr old white pine floor (subfloor, paint, living room, kitchen) - House

1. That is probably yellow pine, not white. White is too soft for floors. Yellow pine is a hardwood. It is harder than many of todays hardwoods Since true Yellow pine has not been generally available for at least 40 -50 years, the people at the store you went to may have no idea what it is. We were told by a specialty lumber yard that our yellow pine floors were white pine, then we learned that that is almost impossible (white pine would never have held up for 172 years). I have heard that there are a very few places where they used old growth heartwood white pine for flooring, but even that would wear pretty quickly.

2. If you sand the floors, you will destroy the patina. Then you will have a new looking floor. Most people do not want new looking floors in a 110 year old house, but that is up to you.

3. IF you sand too much, you will sand away the upper edge of the groove and then the tongue will pope free. That means that there will be nothing holding the next floor boars in place. Sanding is not your friend. Your floors have probably been sanded 4-5 times already. They only last so many times.

4. In the picture it looks like you have some unevenness from differential settlement. You cannot sand this away. You also have some patching or an addition. This also will not sand away.

5. IF you want to make the floors look right meaning new. you should probably just reaplce them or cover them over. Covering them is preferable, because then if someone wants restore them, they will still be there. To me, the floors look about right for 110 year old house already. They have a nice patina, but look like they may have been refinished not too long ago. Maybe within the last 20-40 years. Maybe even within 5-10 years. Hard to tell from a picture.

6. If you want to preserve the patina and expect that 110 year old house will have floors with 110 years of dings and dents, then just screen them, do not sand them. You can go with oil and wax if you want, but that is a ton of work and if you forget and water gets into the grain, you can ruin your floors (they will get black spots that you cannot sand out). If you cot them with a satin (not glossy) polyurethane, they will look the same and be really easy to care for. It will also help to preserve the wood.

# if you decide to use poly keep in mind that oil based turns yellow in sunlight. Some people like that look. Waterbase stays clear. Waterbase is easy to put on because it dries really fast and does not smell. However you need a LOT of coats. I used 7 coats plus an extra 5 or more in traffic areas. Professionals cannot use waterbase, because they cannot put on seven coats and keep their price within reason. Waterbase is only practical DIY.

# If you want to screen not sand, you will have to shop around. There are flooring guys who can and will do this. Others will tell you that you cannot. They will say you have to sand, becasue that is all they know.

# If you have wood in the kitchen or bathroom, I suggest that you either paint it (common 110 years ago) or use a heavy duty gloss coating. Otherwise it will not hold up. Do not even try to oil and wax in a bathroom or kitchen.

Screening is lots cheaper than sanding. Less messy too.

Sanding usually makes the floors look worse unless you are going to sand deep enough to get through every spot, ding and dent.

It appears that your floors already have poly coating on them. This is extremely common. Unless your house has been sealed up for the past 60 years, someone probably got sick of oil and wax and put poly over them.

Some oils will make some polys blister. If this happens, let it fully cure, screen again and try a different product.

If you have horrible water spots that you just cannot live with, you can try sanding a little, bleaching them and then experiment with stain until you match the existing patina. That is really really hard. I am lucky to have a friend who is an artist with matching stain and paint (professional historic home painter). I would not try that on my own.

If you have to patch, the best way to get a match is to go to a salvage place and get wood from a similar house in your area of similar age. Modern wood will never match the grain. It is also milled more and not as thick as your old flooring. There are some examples of that type of patching shown in your pictures. I would remove those new boards and replace them with suitably matching wood from a salvaged house.

Refinishing 100 yr old white pine floor (subfloor, paint, living room, kitchen) - House

If you decide to use new wood, you really need to get the boards custom milled. They do nto make wood in the thickness of your floors anymore. You cannot match the grain (because they can no longer cut old growth) but you can match the thickness. It is expensive though.

Putty usually looks awful. What actually does not look too bad is to let the cracks fill with dist and dirt and poly over it. It seems like a terrible idea, but we did it by mistake once and it looked better than any other solution that we could find.

You cald also have the flooring carefully taken up and relaid to get rid of the gaps. That would be massively expensive though and you would need some salvaged flooring available to match because you will loose some boards.

When you patch, use boards of different lengths. A straight line match looks terrible. stagger the length of the boards, use matching grain and thickness and your patch can be completely unnoticeable.

If you get desperate and sand, darker stain generally gives you a better more even result. However then you have dark floors which some people hate.

Remember, you can experiment and if you do not like the result, do it over. However if you stain dark, it will be very very hard to ever lighten it.

We all have our opinions, especially preservationists like me. There is not right way, thee is only what you are happy with. You should love your house and become part of its history. Do not try to restore it to please somone else. We spent a decade on one house lovingly restoring everything with appropriate products and salvage materials, reproduction wallpaper, etc. The guy who bought it when we moved basically tore everything out and home depoted it. I wanted to throw up when I saw it. Unfortunately for him everyone seemed to agree that home depot products and Ikea does nto belong in a 130 year old house. No one wanted the butchered mess he created and he lose a half million$ between bad choi8ces and a bad market. I have a hard time feeling sorry for him.


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