Wooden Floor

Hi All,
Time to seek your collective sage advice again...
We've decided to have a wooden floor in the lounge - easier to clean and (IMHO) better looking. We've pulled up the very cheap carpet that was down when we arrived, but the floor underneath doesn't look to be in particularly good condition. In several places, presumably where they've had to lay pipes, boards have been cut with a circular saw, damaging the boards on either side. There are several large (~5mm) gaps, although the majority of the boards seem to be well fitted. Many of the boards appear to have warped upwards in the middle, and there are a couple of places where there are 'steps' of 2-3mm between boards. There is lots of paint splashing, the outer edges appear to have a very old black varsh on them and, lastly, the boards appear to be softwood.
Is it worth trying to renovate them? Our other options appear to be relaying boards, possibly recovered ones, or laying a laminate floor on top - what would you suggest?
Cheers - Adam...
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Get a new carpet!
Seriously, any other solution will involve a lot of work. At the very least, you'll need to remove the paint splashes, punch down any proud nail heads and then hire an industrial sander to restore a clean flat surface. You may or may not then have something which you can varnish, and use as your final surface (not sure what to do about the gaps).
If you get a flat surface, but it's still doesn't look good enough, you could then consider covering it with laminate or - preferably - engineered board with a *real* wood surface. The previous work won't have been wasted - because you need a flat surface on which to lay laminate etc. If you do do this, remove the skirting board and undercut the door frames so that you can hide the expansion gap round your new floor without needing to use any horrible beading.
One thing to be aware of is that, once you have covered the floor with laminate or engineered board, it is much more difficult to take bits up to get at pipes and wiring. Putting down a new carpet - with some thick underlay to hide the uneven surface - might yet be the best option!
Roger
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"Roger Mills" wrote

Carpet is the new wooden floor don't ya know! ;o)
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It takes a lot more cleaning and Things live in it ...
Mary

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"Mary Fisher" wrote in message

try a google search on wood boring insects...................you'd have all your wood ripped out and concrete laid if you are worried about things living in it!
death watch beetle...............wood boring weevil.......................house longhorn beetle.................common furniture beetle............wood ant ....... etc
It's all a matter of personal choice, but I was just pointing out that all the home and garden mags these days are saying carpet is fashionable again....................you pay your money you take your choice
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Oh, as a sort of entomologist I know about those. But their effect is slower than moth and they're not as visible.

Oh - I don't read them.
And even if I did I'd still prefer hard floors. Fashion? Wossat!
Not concrete though - I walk a lot in bare feet!
Mary

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Roger
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<smile>
a) my feet are tough
b) the timber is well sanded and varnished (well, poly-urethaned) - I did it myself. Smooth as the proverbial.
Mary

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Only you can decide if it is worth doing. I renovated my softwood floorboards in January and am pleased with the result, though I was cursing at the time. You will need to hire an industrial belt sander and a circular sander for a weekend. Cost will be ITRO 90 inc. abrasive paper. However, the whole process takes much longer. You need to:- 1. Remove all furniture from that room 2. Rip up the carpet and underlay 3. Sink any protruding nailheads down out of the way (sanders don't like 'em ) 4. Fill any holes. 5. Rip up all carpet grips 6. Remove any underlay staples etc.
Thats just the non-negotiable stuff. If your gaps are uneven ( I would suggest that widish gaps aren't a problem in themselves ), you may wish to pull up those boards worst affected and re-lay them. Use shims in the gaps to force the errant boards to have more consistent gaps, then nail them back into position. If you are leaving your skirting boards in position ( that's another crappy job I had to do ) then you can still sand right up to them using the circular sander, but how are you going to lift any errant floorboards if you leave the skirting in place? Tearing the skirting off will probably damage the skirting, and almost certainly tear chunks off the wall ( another job ). I took my skirting off as I wanted to reposition the electricity sockets, so I had more motivation to replace them.
As for some boards being warped upwards, don't worry, the belt sander will flatten them no worries ( I had a bucket of sawdust at the end of it ). I would suggest the sander will remove the steps between boards as well, as long as it's not one board depressed and all the others proud. The belt sander will take off the paint-splashes no problem. The black stuff around the edges will come off too but beware it tends to clog the sandpaper, so lots of it means more sandpaper expense. Your boards sound a bit unruly so it may take some hours of pushing the belt sander about ( at 45 degrees to the boards mind! ) to get the bulk of the sticky-uppy stuff off, then some more hours going down through the sanpaper grades to get a decent finish. Best to finish off with a fine grade, going along the boards this time, with the grain.
Circular saw cuts are a fact of life; some of my boards had been sliced in two to allow access. Either fill the cut with an appropriate filler, or maybe a mixture of wallpaper paste and sawdust ( or pva and sawdust - experiment first ). It might be that extending the cut made by a circular saw right across the board ( not necessarily cut right through though ) will look more natural. Unless you have a very smart or modern house a bit of character in the floorboards adds to the charm - you'll have rugs on a lot of it probably anyway.
If you have a suspended wooden floor, gaps wll cause draughts - do you want that? I caulked my gaps with a mixture of twists of hemp string rammed in ( tedious ) and a natural wood colour Dow Corning acrylic frame sealant ( comes in a tube for those gun things ). I understand papier mache works too, or clear silicone - beware, many sealers specifically warn that they should not be used between floorboards. I also insulated the joists underneath for insurance.
Finally, I applied woodworm treatment ( perhaps not necessary ) and after that had dried, a water-based quick dry antique pine floor varnish ( three coats ). I am now of the opinon that staining the boards would have been a better option, as if you ding the floor and take off a chunk of varnish it shows. Also I think stain may not show brushmarks/stops/starts so much as coloured varnish. A few coats of clear floor varnish will then protect it.
If you're into doing a thorough job, allow two weeks of the room being uninhabitable, and one weekend being a write-off. Cost, probably 125 minimum.
enjoy,
Andy.
Andy
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a sanded wooded floor. I prefer to use 'OsColor Hard' which is pricey but gives a lovely finish. I posted a web address about it in answer to my previous post on this topic - check Google or give me a call if you cannot find it.
Rob
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Where do you get the natural wood colour Dow Corning acrylic frame sealant from ? I have tried google but could not find anything.

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I got it from one source; a builders merchant called Totem Timber in Devon - I don't know if they are national. I have checked the tube, there is no reference or ident number. You could try Dow Corning's website or their distributors - I can't imagine it's that scarce though, bear in mind I had to visit several DIY places and none of them carried it - try the builders merchants in your area.
Andy
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I didnt do much of this, and it looks great.
1. Job 1 is a good clean up. Uuse a mop and bucket, warm water and washing powder, and a few drops of bleach in it. Its slow, just wet the floor and mop it from one end to the other, repeat, repeat. Slowly it comes up very nicely. Have patience with this, it can take hours to get a good clean finish.
2. To lose the gaps, relay the lot, topping up with similar old boards. This step can be skipped if you're OK with the cracks. Use screws on any board that isn't completely flat, and ring shanked nails on the rest. Screwfix do them.
3. Or just repair any problem boards, ie ones with damaged surface. In most cases just turn them over. If no good, replace them.
4. Screw down any wobbly or sticking up boards.
5. Use a hand held sander to sand off the stubborn bits that wouldnt clean up properly. A circular sander is a fast easy option, just take care to always sweep it across the floor so you dont get marks.
6. Never use coloured varnish!! Finish coats must always be clear.
Done, and looks good, is original, and it shows.

Just lift them, they dont move the skirting. If you have a board that you have to lift and it runs the full length, cut it in 2 over a joist.

definitely. Dont get all fussy about it.

At first they did, but the gaps soon fill up with rubbish. The 100 year old gapped floors I've seen aren't usually draughty.

best avoided. Read up on it if you're considering it.

never use that :) The floor soon looks terrible. Pine mellows and yellows by itself, just give it a month to begin mellowing. naturally mellowed pine looks much nicer than stained.

mine only took a day.

cost: Sandpaper, use fibre discs - 5. Varnish 7. Thats it. Most of the floor wasn't sanded at all.
BTW any potential splinter has usually found its way into someone's foot long ago :)
Regards, NT
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Agree with NT - it's worth the effort if you like wooden floors.
On the point of replacement boards, it's well worth searching out secondhand boards from relaimation yards and the like, or looking for boards recut from old timbers.
Take along a sanded down sample of a board that you've removed, and try and colour match with the replacements.
New boards from timber merchants are often different thicknesses (you won't believe how much effort and time it takes to sand down thicker boards!) and stick out like sore thumbs when things are refinished.
cheers Richard
-- Richard Sampson
email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
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?
but matching them is a nightmare

Well, what's a while? They'll probably outlast quite a few of us and they can always be taken up leaving the original floors to show - just as carpets can.

But how many of us will?
In fact, how many houses will?
Mary
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Sir, I salute your speed! Of course, as you say it depends on the effect you want and the details of the job. To do it in a day requires that your floor is either fairly good already or you like the rustic look. I decided to go ( rightly or wrongly - I appreciate the natural look argument ) for a smooth look. This required a lot of work getting the boards sanded - one weekend just for that.
As for the gaps, lifting and relaying boards is difficult stuff - damage may be occasioned to the boards, and if they are laid closer together, finding a matching floorboard to go on the end could take ages. Even if skirting boards are not taken off, cutting boards in half over a joist to lift them would feel annoying to me, but it is probably the easiest option.
Using a belt and orbital sander requires pushing all the nailheads down out of the way else an expensive ripping sound ensues. Filling the resulting nail holes was a bit anal retentive of me but that's the way I am! A hand-held orbital will not cope with getting a flat, smooth finish on old boards; a flat finish requires the hire of an industrial belt sander and orbital sander. Choose what finish you want to live with.
I also had some woodworm problems, close to the gaps - applying woodworm treatment requires three applications, with considerable drying time in between. I've read that woodworm problems in houses probably predate central-heating, but I'm not so sure - I've discovered fresh woodworm sawdust under woodworm holes under my stairs, so I chose the belt-and-braces option for my floor.
I admit that floorboard gaps may fill up with debris over time, but I have seen the rug lift at one corner years ago before we had fitted carpets, when a strong wind was blowing outside, as the wind came up through the floorboards. With that in mind, with some widish debris-resistant gaps, and with the prospect of being visited by our little eight-legged friends, I went for the nuclear option and filled the gaps. Finding a suitable filler either requires making it yourself ( wood filler doesn't work ) or hunting around for a sealant which is a colour match and doesn't specifically forbid being used between floorboards. Being unwilling to see sealant perhaps drop through the gaps if the gaps widened seasonally, I went for the belt-and-braces approach ( again ) of packing the gaps with twisted hemp string. I also insulated the underfloor joists, so that heat would not belost now that the fitted carpet was gone.
If there is that black gunk on the floorboards ( as used to be the fashion ) it takes extra time and sandpaper to get off.
If any of these problems is not catered for up front ( i.e. having all necessary tools available ( like circular saw/floorboard saw, filler, sealant, clawhammer, jemmy, wedges nails, woodworm treatment, varnish, stain, etc ), or having spare matched floorboards of the correct thickness available etc, the amount of running around and cursing could easily stretch to two weeks ( it did for me! ).
I think most people will get it done in a time longer than one day, but less than two weeks. I demanded perfection, and did it the hard ( belt-and-braces ) way, which is why I'm prepared to share my experience here - I was scratching my head a lot of the time due to lack of knowledge. Looking back, I would not go for such a good finish perhaps, as it shows up dings very plainly. I think the hemp packing in the gaps was possibly OTT. The coloured varnish finish seems to be rejected by most people on this thread.
The rest I am happy about; people should look at the list of options in this thread and pick what's good for them. Hopefully all the options and most of the problems are now on the table for readers to see,
cheers,
Andy
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If you are going to renovate (or cover) a damaged floor, I would suggest that you lift a few boards & take a good look underneath first. Look for:
damp, rot, leaking pipes, bad wiring, rubbish (this might bridge the DPC), insects, blocked ventilation. If the U/F void smells fusty, this might mean dry rot.
Are you likely to want to lay cables for computer, phone, etc?
Then tread over all of the old floor: are there any boards that creak? Does the skirting board need painting?
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How about getting a new wood floor laid? Go to your nearest reclamation yard and see what they have . I'm planning on having a new wood floor put in to replace a chipboard floor in my old cottage, my local reclaim yard has new timber cut to the old fashioned floor board dimensions, 109m worth is going to cost about 250, plus labour to fit it won;t cost the earth.
Kerry

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