x-posted: Wood floors for 100 yo house

donkaApril 13, 2009

My dream of refinishing the original Douglas Fir floors in my house has been squashed by the flooring people. The floors have been sanded so many times that the original top groove of the tongue and groove planks is so thin they can't redo them another time. The area of floor which has been refinished the most (my livingroom) is already showing signs of cracking where the groove is too thin.

I was hoping there was something miraculous they could do, but they said my options are 1. refinish them and I'd have huge pieces cracking and breaking off in no time, 2. sand 'em down and break off the pieces that are cracked, fill with a mix of something or other to fill in the huge missing spots and wait for those to crack because the grooves and floor are no longer stable, or 3. get new floors. I believe the first 2 options were posed mostly to get me to understand the ramifications :)

So, this will be going throughout the whole main floor of my house. What kind of wood works well in a kitchen, and looks appropriate for a 100 year old house? I looked into getting 'replacement' Douglas Fir and into 'distressed' flooring, but both of them are out of my price range ($14 a square foot, $7200 for just materials to do the area I need.) I can maybe afford $6 per square foot.

By the way, I don't really know what the 'style' of the house is. It was custom built by a man and his wife and I have yet to nail it down to one style or another. All the subfloors are Douglas Fir, the PO's had the place covered in peel and stick tile or carpeting.

Any help would be appreciated!

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If the floors are too thin to be sanded again, that only means that you will need a less destructive technique to refinish. That could mean:
Chemical stripping and/or hand sanding/scraping. Any of these will leave almost the same amount of wood you have now. If there are embedded stains or extensive cupping, these will still be there, but you can still get a clean, durable finish on the wood you have now.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 8:23PM
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I think your flooring guys are correct. Floors can only be sanded about 3 times over their life, which many people do not realize. I would go with new, but check around with some local flooring companies. We were about to buy inexpensive oak from Home Depot for our third floor (not well traveled, didn't need top of the line) when a local flooring company offered us Brazilian cherry for the same price ($4 square foot for materials). Any kind of floor can go in an old house, just depends on your style. If it's rustic, try wide plank pine; oak always works and can be stained different colors to make it unique. This picture seems to be pine, not sure, but it has a muted finish to give it an older look.

Here is a link that might be useful: wood floors in kitchen

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:19AM
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You don't have to sand a lot to refinish floors. Sanding is usually the fastest, but stripping and using light grit hand sanding will give a nice finish too. Another option is to carefully remove the floor, flip over and use the bottom, or take to a wood working place to rip the boards and get new tounges and grooves cut. It may cost a little more than a full replacement, but you aren't waisting all that good old wood.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:48AM
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Thanks everyone. I think I'm going to have to go with new at this point. The cracking is pretty pronounced and I think they're right that it's only going to get worse. Removing the floor would definitely be more work than I can afford as it's actually the sub-floor of the house. I'll lay the new floors on top, if some day down the road I get the ambition to do something with them they'll still be there :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:28AM
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