Repair & Care
Restoring Old Hardwood Floors
Today many are discovering what could be the showpiece of any older home; beautiful wood floors. How old are they? Can they be refurbished to their original appearance is often the thought on many new homeowner's minds.
Jewels Under That Old Carpet!
Imagine the look on the faces of those that removed the carpet on the right to find beautiful border work on a floor that had been covered for years with carpet. Not only are designs being uncovered (more pictures below) but older homes offered higher quality hardwoods such as old growth and quarter sawn material.
Old growth was harvested from trees much older than what they mill today, with many areas now protected from lumbering. These types show a much tighter grain pattern due to their age and the number of growth rings.
Quarter sawn hardwoods, still available today at much higher prices, offer a unique appearance as shown in the example below. Other common types of flooring of yesteryear were heart pine; also shown. Notice the tight grain pattern on the old growth heart pine picture? Then we have our common red oak many will find in homes less than 50 years old.
Older Quarter Sawn
Straight Grain Heart Pine
Common Red Oak
How Do I know What's Under That Raggedy Looking Carpet?
There's only one way of finding out...pull the carpet back. To do so take a pair of pliers, grab a section in a corner and pull back. Hopefully you will be dealing with a stretched in type of carpet and not any glued down types. You may also encounter holes in the original floor itself that were used for radiator heating. These can be repaired with any knowledgeable professional.
How Do I Know If The Floors Can Be Refinished?
One key in determining how many times the floor has been refinished would be to look at the wear layer that is left on the flooring itself. The wear layer is the area above the tongue and groove. There have been different thicknesses of hardwood flooring milled over the years and their wear layers are different. To check for the current thickness, one place to look would be around removable heating register vents.
What To Expect When The Carpet Is Removed?
When wall to wall carpet became popular in the 60's and 70's, many wood floors were covered up. You may discover carpet padding that has been attached with hundreds of staples or adhesive of some sort. With much older floors you may find screws and nails that previous homeowners used to stop squeaks. Dirt! You may find an enormous amount of dirt that sifted through the carpet and padding over the years. Carpet tack strip will have to be removed.
Pet or other similar stains may be found under carpet in older floors. In many cases these cannot be removed and replacement becomes necessary. Replacement from unseen areas such as closets will insure a perfect aged match. We've also seen many floors that were covered with layers of linoleum that were brought back to their original beauty.
Some rotten floorboards or subfloor material may be present, along with squeaky floors that may require repairing. Once all the carpet is removed the home will open up, common sounds will be more pronounced because the insulating factor of carpet has been removed.
Another Example Of Finding That Jewel
The above photos were sent to us by "catman" who was a regular participant on our hardwood flooring talk message board. Before and after pictures show he found older parquet and quarter sawn flooring in the foyer of an older home he bought and restored.
What Kind Of Costs Can I Expect To Pay?
There are far too many variables involved in assessing a cost over the internet. Some floors may be in good condition requiring very little if any preparation before the sanding and finishing process.
Added May 6, 2014
View the stair refishing video