If you own a historic home, you’re likely an individual of refined tastes. For instance, you may prefer the simple elegance of handcrafted furniture over the affordability and convenience of mass-produced items. You may value the reliability and durability of time-tested materials over features designed for obsolescence and consumerism. These are just a couple of the many reasons to take pride and enjoyment in owning a historic home.
Thus, when it comes to maintaining your hardwood flooring, it’s essential to bear these values in mind. Many historic homeowners make the mistake of tearing up priceless original hardwood floors at the first sight of scratches, stains, or other issues. Perhaps they aren’t aware of just how durable, flexible, and reparable hardwood flooring can be. If you’re pondering the best next steps to take to preserve your historic hardwood floors, consider the following methods of hardwood floor restoration.
Restoration can mean several different things, depending on the current status of your hardwood floors. Thus, it’s a good idea to evaluate your entire home’s flooring first, preferably through the help of a professional hardwood flooring expert. If your hardwood floors are covered with carpet or any other flooring material, restoring them can mean tearing up that top layer to reveal the hidden beauty underneath. If your hardwood is already exposed, Home Restoration could be a matter of thorough cleaning with chemicals specifically designed for use on wood, buffing, and re-sealing. If your floors have scratches, dents, stains, or missing parts, you may be able to get away with simple repairs.
Simple repairs may be the best option for flooring with minimal forms of damage. If only a small section of the floor contains damage, or if there are insignificant scratches scattered here and there, patchwork may be all you need. You can try sanding those areas by hand, just barely enough to erase the blemishes without creating too much difference in grade between the boards. However, this process requires a skill level that only a flooring professional may have. If done incorrectly, the uneven grade of the floor will be a nightmare to handle the next time you sand the entire floor.
Another option is to relocate the damaged planks to less conspicuous areas, replacing the original site with other planks in better condition. You’ll have to source the other planks from a closet, corner of the room, attic, basement, or any areas covered by rugs.
Installing patches of brand new wood planks is an option only if you can find the same wood species in precisely the same width as your current floors (which may have been sanded down a time or two), and you feel confident in staining and refinishing them to match your floor’s coloring. Considering how unrealistic it is to check all those boxes, it’s better to switch out the boards with others from your property or consult a flooring expert about salvaging wood from other historic buildings of the same time period.
If your hardwood floor’s condition is already fair, you may not need to perform a complete refinishing job or even minor repairs. Their lackluster coloring can be remedied simply with a fresh coat of finish layered on top of the original finish. Polyurethane finish can go directly on top of the historic varnish but be advised that older varnishes should not go on top of polyurethane.
If you have any record of your home’s flooring history, you may want to consult that first to determine how many times the hardwood has already been sanded and refinished. If you have no such record, ask your local flooring professional to evaluate the thickness of your wood boards. Antique wood that has been sanded once or twice already may not withstand another round. This is due to the tongue-in-groove design of most kinds of historic hardwood, in which the topmost tab is only “. Since sanding removes about ⅛”, it won’t endure more than two sandings.
Sanding is a process that removes the topmost layer of wood, including any stains and finishes, until no more scratches or dents are apparent. Wood floors typically need to be sanded every decade or whenever they start to look particularly worn. If your wood planks are looking thin, a light screening can be a gentler alternative as it uses a buffing pad rather than sandpaper.
Once you have sanded away the original finish and sanded the wood down as much as is necessary, you’re ready to apply a new finish. The choice of finish is up to your stylistic sensibilities. Do you prefer to use an antique-style varnish that matches what you had before? Would an old-fashioned wax create the warm-toned effect you imagine? Or would you prefer a more modern polyurethane finish to bring the floors into the 21st century? Consult a historic restoration expert for recommendations on hardwood finishes that can mimic the original aesthetic, if in doubt.
Not only are they timelessly beautiful, but they are also known to be one of the most durable and long-lasting materials available. It’s no wonder hardwood floors are so coveted in the housing market. With proper care, they can last up to 100 years or even longer! In other words, you’re not likely to see the demise of new hardwood flooring in your lifetime. This is because hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times to look brand new again. So before you decide to scrap the wood flooring in your historic home, think again. Once you implement the best course of action for your floor’s unique situation, you’ll be glad to have given them a second chance to gleam in their unfiltered historic beauty.