Should I buy old wood floors?

jdezJanuary 20, 2014

We are building a new house and we are on a low budget. We have very few high grade materials going inside the house. Most money is being spent on the outside of the house on long-term stuff like metal roof, brick, good windows, good insulation, etc. We came across some old salvaged maple tongue and groove flooring that we can get fairly cheap. The wood itself is in good shape but the finish is not. We could buy the floors for the same as it would cost us to buy vinyl flooring. If we bought this old flooring, our builder would install it for us but we would have to do the refinishing ourselves. First of all, how hard of a job is this for someone with no experience? Second, will it be impossible to maintain a real wood floor with a young child and dog in the house? Not worrying about resell, will the asthetics be worth the hard work and time it takes to re-do these floors? I know everyone has different opinions on real wood floors but I thought I would just see what some of your thoughts on the subject might be. Thanks.

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If its in good condition (ie not a lot of stains and having had minimal previous sanding) go for it! IMHO, vintage wood can be the superior product compared to a lot of new wood flooring - usually they used the finer cuts of wood back in the day, and the beautiful aged color of 100 year old vintage maple cannot be reproduced. If its birdseye maple it will look incredible.

What do you mean "no experience." If no woodworking or woodfinishing skills at all Id think about hiring someone to do it. Or, at least do NOT attempt the drum sander - If its as in good condition as you claim and if the finish is just
shellac that can be easily removed with denatured alcohol and steel wool - then use a light sander or buffer on it. But no aggressive sanding - once you gouge or create dips or other goofs there's no fixing it, Yeah it might look ok until you get the finish on - then it will look really awful.

Far from being a cheap fix, these floors can indeed be a positive, long term asset for your house if you do it right.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:44AM
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Inspect the maple closely. Look for manufacturer and grade markings on the back of the boards. That will tell you much about the product. Old growth wood flooring can be a good purchase, if it was good stuff to begin with. Make sure the price is reasonable and makes sense.

Unless you can do the finishing yourselves, (not rocket science, but requires good machinery, proper grits and skill), then hire that out to an established floor finishing company that you check out very well before letting them touch the wood.

Wood floors finished with state of the art finishes can be a great investment, are renewable by refinishing, and can withstand service in the typical residential home.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:15AM
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Thanks kashka and glenn. We have no woodworking experience except wood shop class in high I'm going to investigate the prices of wood floor finishers in the area and see if this might be do able for us. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Go for it!!! I would have loved to have found old wood floors. There is a learning curve, so go into it with your eyes open.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 7:38AM
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Try this site if you want to give the DIY route a try.

Good luck !

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 3:27PM
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"Old Wood" flooring is pretty hard to beat. It is, typically "close grain" wood and can be stained, treated, or sanded down.

Trust this~~you ain't gonna find that at Home Depot.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:33PM
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