Sanding/Refinishing 100 year old Douglas Fir

nitetiger4July 2, 2012

Hey guys! hoping I can get some help (quickly, because I don't have much time to work on these floors :) ) We have 3/4" 100 year old douglas fir plank floors in our living room. They are dirty and gray for the most part, but parts seem to have a brown paint on them. I was working at getting the paint off with an orbital sander and 60 grit sandpaper, but it does not seem to be working very well and it's exposing a lot of new wood on the higher parts of the wood.

Questions:

1) Is it safe to use a belt sander on these floors or will that ruin the wood?

2) What grit of sandpapers should I be using so that I don't lose the patina? I don't want the floors to look smooth and new, but weathered and old while still being attractive.

3) How much should I sand down to keep the patina? I am not exactly sure what I am looking for. Do I sand til the gray is all gone or do I just sand the gray bit smooth with a fine grain sandpaper?

Help me! :) Thank you!

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gregmills_gw

Sanding the grey off or paint is touchy. Its real easy to sand "too far" and get to bare wood.

I would use 100 grit. You may go thru a lot of paper but you wont be digging deep into the wood. You can drop down to 60 grit but then your going to dig into the wood.

You may just want to think about sanding it all down. The wood as taken on its own aged looked. And a coat of polyurethane will look different on your floor compared to a new fir floor.

As far as a belt sander you can use but too much pressure and you will dig deep into the fir. Its requires finese.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:33PM
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nitetiger4

Thanks gregmills.

I'm now wondering if this paint probably has lead in it... Perhaps I shouldn't be sanding it at all.

With 100 grit paper, it is pulling parts of the feathered wood pieces up and splintering it pretty badly. :-\

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 10:13PM
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nitetiger4

Thanks gregmills.

I'm now wondering if this paint probably has lead in it... Perhaps I shouldn't be sanding it at all.

With 100 grit paper, it is pulling parts of the feathered wood pieces up and splintering it pretty badly. :-\

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 10:14PM
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gregmills_gw

STOP SANDING! If there is ever any doubt that theres lead get it tested. Most big box stores sells instant tests for lead. It will show the pressence of lead. Its not a comprehensive test.

If there is lead you need it removed by a professional. Not doing so can cause serious health risks.

With the flaking you are getting i suggest you hire a pro to take a better look at the floor.

While 100 yr old fir can be sanded it does need to be examined. Some times old wood if not taken care of properly over the years is just a lost cause.

Not saying your floor is shot. I have no way of knowing without visually examining it. But at this stage most highly recommended pros will at the very least come out and give you a bid.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 10:59PM
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nitetiger4

I think that's what we'll do then, hopefully we can do something with it. Since the wood is so thick, I imagine that it can be sanded down to use able wood somewhere, but we should probably have someone else come do it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 12:12AM
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brickeyee

"Since the wood is so thick, I imagine that it can be sanded down to use able wood somewhere,"

Any flat cut portions can have 'shelling' (the "feathered wood pieces" you are seeing) and splintering.

Sanding will not improve the issue since the growth ring structure is not going to vary as you sand.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:37AM
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