Need advice on old waxed floors....

rosesr4meDecember 8, 2008

I have a 1940 home with approximately 500 s.f. of waxed oak floors. Rug pads have left a black gummy residue on the wax - otherwise they are in excellent condition. I plan on renting the home, and am concerned about potential damage to the wood floors by tenants. I hope to eventually retire to this house in about 10 years.

A few questions for all of you....

* Would a wax finish provide better protection (i.e. a waxy film) for the wood rather than a poly finish (which is subject to cracking/peeling, scratches, etc).? Would you recommend stripping and waxing with several coats of wax before I rented it? What stripping/wax products are recommended?

Or....would a poly finish provide better protection for the underlying wood?

* Install neutral area rugs (that the tenants HAVE to keep down). What rug pads work on waxed floors without leaving a residue?

Thanks to all of you for your advice and recommendations..

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Hi rosesr4me,

I have had both old waxed wood floors & polyurethane-finished old wood floors. The poly floors were done about ten years ago, & I have not seen any signs of cracking or peeling, despite having two active, largish dogs. I think a poly finish provides more protection than wax, which should be redone at least yearly.

There are wax stripping products by Johnson & other companies; you may need to go to a hardware or floor store to find them. Or if you decide to have the floors refinished with polyurethane, the company that does that would remove the wax.

Area rugs would probably be less expensive than having the floors refinished, but not all the flooring would be covered (think of doorways which get the most wear), & rugs become dirty & worn. I think most types of rug pads leave some residue, but in my experience it hasn't been difficult to remove.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 2:10PM
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I'd offer a flip opinion. I grew up in a house with waxed wood floors. My mother regularily waxed them and that's it. They are now 51 years old and good as the day they were put down.

My previous house & my current house both have oil based poly floors. I loved the look, but in another five years they will need to be rescreened.....and that's with one careful person living in the house.

If it were me, I'd keep them wax w/ rugs. The wood could scratch either way. If it happens with wax it's relatively easy to fix....with poly, not so much. The wax surface will never show scratches, the poly surface does.

Turpentine can be used to strip the wax.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 11:31PM
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suzyq2, how did your mother wax the floors? I would like to learn to do this myself.
Also, why should the wax be stripped?
I am glad that the OP brought up this subject -- thank you for letting me ask a question here.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 6:04PM
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Something you may not have thought about is that waxing floors makes them slippery. If you either insist that the floors are kept waxed, or use area rugs that can slide around easily, if a tenant (or their friend) has an accident they will sue you for who knows how much. I would see about getting inexpensive wall to wall something (ask pros re what leaves the least residue) until you're ready to move in.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 11:33PM
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waterlox is the best finish if you want something that is ever renewable and can be touched up if necessary w/o ever sanding again. It is a tung based product and penetrates the wood , not s surface coating. It is very easy to apply and looks wonderful. If you do a search of GW you will see numerous threads concerning the use of it. Good Luck. also the rug pads they sell now do not have any residue at all. They are a light weight quilted product that can be bought in any size and does not slip at all. Very easy to use. c

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:50PM
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Fuzzywuzzer - She used paste wax and my mom owned a buffer that made buffing a shine easier (you can also rent them). You remove the old wax to prevent build up. If you get build up it can get kind of sticky.

I agree that waxed floors can be slippery in socks after you first polish them. When I was little I was always a bit afraid of walking in socks after my mom just polished the floors....until we discovered sliding down the hallway :-) The slickness does diminish after a few days of also polish it to a little less of a hard shine and then it isn't slippery.

The only thing I'd mention about a penetrating oil finish is that once you use one, you are pretty much bound to it and it can be difficult to put another finish over it later if you change your mind.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 1:54PM
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