We ripped the carpet up in our dining room and found an oak floor.
Originally we were going to refinish the floor but the wife decided she
likes the patina of the old wood. The floor will have to have some sort of
surface treatment because it is worn almost down to bare wood.
Many of the boards have separated slightly and left gaps 1/32-1/16". I
would like to fill these cracks.
My wife just wanted to wax the floor but it needs a sealing topcoat.
Someone suggested oil, but oil offers nearly zero scuff resistance and no
My plan is to clean the floor very well. Use a wood filler that is
similiar to the existing color or slightly darker to fill the gaps, then
recover the floor with shellac. I chose shellac because it is easier to
work than varnish, doesn't smell much, dries very quickly, isn't finicky
about surface prep and is easy to repair.
agreed. if its a small crack, just call it character. if its a big crack,
get some wood that matches it somewhat close and start whittling. better to
put new wood in and finish that than try and make the putty look good.
if you want a new floor, buy a new floor.
After you fill the gaps you will have to sand the floor to make the filler
flush and to cleanup it up off the existing floor.
In the summer the floor will expand and the filler will start to pop out
making it look worse.
As for shellac, I don't think it will hold up very well.
I'll reiterate one of the other mantras...absolutely do <not> try to
fill the gaps between boards--it will either restrict the normal
movement of the floor and, at best, result in the filler popping out or,
at worst, cause the floor to buckle.
I would also not use shellac on a floor--it isn't sufficiently hard to
stand up to the traffic.
Not being able to see your floor from here to judge it's actual
condition, I'd recommend you get a professional to evaluate it and
Lacking that, it would at a minimum need to be stripped of any residual
wax and cleaned. Depending on what the previous finish is, it may be
possible to reconstitute that finish. If not, any finish would also
need to be stripped and a light sanding prior to a re-application of a
stain to blend in defects, etc., prior to finishing would be the
ticket. A floor varnish will be the best choice. It can be be buffed
out to the desired degree of polish.
As someone once said, there is no beauty that hath not strangness of
proportion; meaning, in your context, what turned on your wife are the
imperfections of the floor, along with its other qualities. So live with
it. Light sanding and a satin poly finish. Nothing could be easier, or
probably as durable, and if you don't like it, it will be easy to sand
off to the point where you started in the first place. What you are in
danger of doing--I say confidently but not really knowing--is turning a
beautiful patined (sp) candlestick into something bright, shiney, and
I've been told by a professional refinisher that you can't put poly over an old
oil and wax finish (I assume that's is what is there) without a complete
sanding. The wax in the pores of the wood will keep the poly from sticking and
result in a floor with cloudy specks in it.
We have some oak floors that are oiled and waxed and some that are poly. For
looks, I prefer the oil and wax. The poly is in the kitchen where water is a
risk. For scuf resistance and general wear, they seem equal.
It's hard to tell what to do without seeing the floor. For sure, don't fill the
cracks. If the old finish is oil and wax, I'd consider renting a floor buffer,
screening it lightly, put down a coat of oil that is close to the exisiting
color, let it dry overnight, then wax and buff.
That is correct. Another advantage of shellac is that it will adhere
equally well to raw wood, wax & oil or old varnish. I considered wax & oil
but shellac offers greater scuff resistance. We cleaned and tested a small
area with shellac and it looks great. We plan to go ahead after we put
down the new kitchen floor.
If there's a chance that something else will be put over the shellac
ensure you use dewaxed shellac. Not the easiest thing to find
although Zinsser has a new Seal Coat dewaxed shellac with what they
claim has 3 year shelf life.
<< Many of the boards have separated slightly and left gaps 1/32-1/16". I would
like to fill these cracks. >>
Find a professional paint store that has a non hardening filler so that summer
humidity doesnt' cause more problems.
<< then recover the floor with shellac. >>
Not a good idea. Shellac has poor abrasion resistance and this is a floor,
right? Get acquainted with the modern finishes like water based polyurethanes.
They are water clear, dry quickly and brush or spray incredibly well. No nasty
yellowing afterwards, either. And polyurethanes are decently abrasion
resistant, too. HTH
As others have advised any between-board filler will not last except
possibly an epoxy which will essentially convert the whole floor into
one unit. Given that the epoxy bond to the wood is stronger than the
wood itself the only way the floor can move is as a whole unit or, I
suppose, it could buckle. I tried this on my stairs a couple of years
ago and so far so good. The problem is matching the color.
The only point here that you're correct about is the
abrasion-resistance but that's only important if the floor is in a
heavily trafficked area. The amber glow and medium sheen of shellac is
far superior to the plastic, my-only-taste-is-in-my-mouth, office or
institution surface of the polyurethanes. Further the ease of
application, ease of retouch, and speed of curing are so much better
with shellac that one could question why anyone would use anything
else (except in high-traffic areas).
You could even move the furniture to one side of the room, finish the
open side and flip it after 24 hours to do the other side. Quick
drying poly's are mainly a myth. Read the fine print on the can and
you'll find full cure times of seven days or more. They achieve their
vaunted "one day" finishing by counting "finished" as able to walk on
in bare feet and by skipping things like filling, inter-coat sanding,
and # of poly coats. Parks (the HD brand) suggests two coats of
sanding sealer and one coat of poly for a done-in-a-day job (even then
you have to wait for it to cure) which will give you a minimal surface
depth. A couple of coats of shellac which can be done almost back to
back depending on the room size, is thicker.
Shellac takes about a week to fully cure as well. WB polyurethanes
dry rapidly allowing three coats per day but cure time is at least a
week, longer with heavy coats. Shellac was used for years on floors
and repair is a snap but polyurethanes are a real PAIN to repair.
On Thu, 13 Jan 2005 05:20:12 GMT, SpamFree
I agree with the point about shellac - it is soft, can be damaged by
alcohol and it gets white spots from water drops. It used to be used on
piano's to build the thick, glassy finish and then topped with varnish
for protection. As the post above states, there are lots of modern
finishes. Old fashioned varnish can last forever if applied and
maintained correctly, and a buffable real-wax protection is also nice.
Gritty dirt is the worst enemy. Pays to understand wood and how
finishes behave. Old fashioned varnish tends to yellow on exposure to
sunlight, but that might be the desirable color, and may not show if the
stain is a darker one. Pine also shows more yellow caste. Poly tends
to sit on top of the wood and look "plasticy", which I dislike. I
personally like wood that looks "old", has some patina.
If a cleaning is all that it needs, try fine steel wool and mineral
spirits. I've used it on old furniture many times. If the finish is
totally worn through, you might be able to repair it, although that
takes skill and a bit of luck. If the wood is dirty, fine sanding and
app of matching stain....very chancy but "doable". I've mixed my own
stains using artist oils, linseed oil and min sp.
To clean it, vacuum thoroughly. If crud is down in the spaces between
boards, dig it out and vacuum again. Damp mop - don't leave standing
water on it - with tepid water and Murphy's Oil Soap. Sink protruding
nails. Use fine steel wool and mineral spirits, scrubbing with the
grain. Mop up the remains with clean rags or paper towels. Dispose of
the waste appropriately. A good, buffable REAL wax coating may be all
that it needs after that. They are nice and need only occ damp
mop/rebuff. Re-wax about once a year, depending on traffic and soiling.
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