Author Topic: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?  (Read 3257 times)

Igelfreundin

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Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« on: November 05, 2015, 07:54:33 PM »
A week after I moved into my 70-year-old house, I got curious about the floors under the shag carpet. Well, I've pulled up all the carpet in the living room and now I can't figure out if I have to refinish the floors. In high traffic areas, there's wear: it's a bit grayer, and not shiny like the rest of the floor, but it's not exactly the color I'd expect raw wood to be. (There are places where someone drilled into the wood recently, so I can see the color of the unprotected wood.)

I really don't want to spend the time refinishing the floor right now, because there are more urgent repairs needed in the house. Is there anything I can put on the floor to protect it without sanding off everything? I don't mind the look of aged, distressed wood, but I don't want to cause damage if I'll be leaving unfinished wood exposed to the elements.

An added time constraint is that I plan to get a roommate early next year, and I can't ask him/her to move out for a week while I refinish. So if I need to do something to the floors in the next 2-3 years, I need to do it this month. Advice?

justajane

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2015, 08:07:15 PM »
FWIW, our floors in our 90 year old home looked like this when we moved into it. We haven't done anything - no wax, no polyurethane, nothing - and they haven't gotten worse in the past eight years. I think standing water had to have caused the original stains. Honestly with area rugs and furniture, we don't even notice.

If you're really concerned, I'd say wax it for the time being and see what happens.

I like floors with a patina, and refinished floors are overrated IMO. There's only so many times you can refinish a floor before you have to replace it. The frequency with which people these days refinish their floors makes me think they don't know this.

FLBiker

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 07:10:52 AM »
When we moved in (50 year old house, original parquet floors) I used a "deep clean" floor cleaner on the hole house, then a wax polish.  I chose wax because I wasn't sure what had been used before, and you can put it on top of other stuff (including polyurethane, which we have in the living room / sun room).  It worked great!  Since then (5 years ago) I think I've re-done it once.

I use a Koblenz P-620A Upright Floor Machine Polisher (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000Z3UF7A).  I've tried a few different pads, I think I like the tan cleaning / polishing ones the best, but I used lambswool for a finish if I'm feeling fancy.

I don't remember the brand of cleaner / wax polish, but I can check when I go home if you're interested.  That said, they're old (from my FIL) and I don't know that they're still sold.


Koogie

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 07:40:08 AM »
I don't remember the brand of cleaner / wax polish, but I can check when I go home if you're interested.  That said, they're old (from my FIL) and I don't know that they're still sold.

Would be interested in that info. too

Jack

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 08:24:07 AM »
The point of refinishing wood floors is to make them look nicer. If you're okay with the way they look now, then they don't need to be refinished.

Waxing, however, is part of cleaning/maintenance. Do that to protect them.

Kitsune

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2015, 08:50:09 AM »
If you're ok with how it looks and it doesn't have splinters or seem overly dry, you might not need to re-do it.

If you're going to re-finish the floors, I highly, highly recommend waxing wood floors over polishing, especially if you have pets, small children, or roommates who are likely to make a mess.

We did that at my parents house: rent a sander (for a weekend), sand down the old varnish and everything on the wood floors, and wax. From what I recall when we did it, the wax paste was supposed to last longer than the liquid kind, but was more of a pain to apply. We did it anyway.

Advantage: large dog on hardwood, with claws? Kid dropping something heavy? BIG SCRATCH from moving furniture? Buff, re-wax, no one will ever notice... whereas with a polish, a scratch will show, will catch in the light, and will look crappier... so if you're expecting a house where things might mess the floor, the wax will look nicer for longer.

Igelfreundin

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2015, 09:49:15 AM »
I should have added in my original post that I have a dog, and expect future scratches, so this has all been great advice so far!

Anomalous

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2015, 11:56:59 AM »
I have wood floors in my house (may be softwood rather than hardwood), and some of high-traffic areas were in pretty rough shape when I moved in. They were actually splintering in spots, so something had to be done to keep them from falling apart. Rather than refinishing the whole floor, I just patched up the rough areas. I didn't sand all the way down to bare wood; I sanded just enough to scuff up the existing finish and remove ground-in dirt. Then I applied a couple coats of low-odor water-based polyurethane. This may not be the most durable finish, but it let me work on small portions of the floor while the house was still occupied. After a few months of use, the re-finished parts of the floor lose the excessive shininess and blend in with the rest very well.

Here's what the partially refinished floor looked like. I think it looks pretty good, and the light sanding and recoating is a lot less work and mess than sanding all the way down to bare wood:


This is very much a non-standard way of doing things, and there may be some good reasons why floors are usually sanded down to the wood and re-finished all at once. However, if you're not too picky about appearance and not afraid to experiment, it's an option you could try.

Bob W

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 12:03:50 PM »
Thanks for that picture.   Pretty much says it all.  Good job!

FLBiker

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Re: Can I get away without refinishing my wood floor?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2015, 04:07:09 AM »
Koogie (and anyone else) - the products I use on our 60 year old parquet (two rooms of which have a polyurethane finish) are Hartco Total Care (first) and Hartco Guard Wax (second).  I remember googling it when I first moved in, though, and they may no longer be available.  I think Briwax was a modern equivalent (these are "antique" supplies that I got from my FIL).

Anomalous - thanks for the pics.  I might take this on.  Seems much easier than a full refinishing, and looks like a big improvement.  Nice work!