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Top Tips for Restoring a Wooden Floor

By Karin Mangan
Top Tips for Restoring a Wooden Floor

So you've just bought your dream home--full of old-world character and charm. That usually means it's full of home improvement jobs too. If you're lucky enough to have a hardwood floor, you can restore it to its former glory with relatively little effort.

  • Start by cleaning the floor. It should look a lot more attractive when the years of grease and grime are removed. Use a cloth rather than a brush, warm water, and a little detergent. Once the floor is clean, you can get a better idea of what other work is required to restore it.
  • Sanding the floor is an effective way to remove layers of wax and dirt that have sunk into the wood and discolored the floor over time. You can hire a floor sander and edger from a hardware store. Operate them carefully, in line with instructions, and be careful not to apply too much pressure.
  • If you are unable to remove a stain, you could carefully remove the floorboard or boards and turn them over. If the other side doesn't look good either, you can get a replacement board from a lumber store. Take the old board with you so you can get a good match.
  • After sanding the floor, sweep the dust away and wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove as much dust as possible, otherwise it may be difficult to get an even finish when you seal it.
  • You can buy strips of matching wood to fill any gaps. Use wood glue to hold them in place and sand down the join when it has dried.
  • You can fix loose floorboards by simply locating a joist underneath, drilling a hole in the floorboard and hammering a nail into the hole. Use a nail punch to knock the head of the nail below the surface.
  • Use latex wood filler to fill any holes or deep scratches in the wood.
  • You may want to stain the wood, especially if you have had to make a lot of repairs. Staining can achieve a more even finish, but natural wood can look more authentic.
  • Apply a sealer or resin to seal the floor. Polyurethane gives a harder, more durable finish but can cause the wood to yellow. Urethane is less durable but looks more natural.

Remember to be aware of wiring or plumbing that may run underneath the floor; take care when you hammer nails into floorboards. If you have recently moved into an older home, you might consider calling an electrician and a plumber to check out where the pipes and wires are, and whether they meet modern codes and standards. You don't want to fix your floor, only to find you need to get under it again to fix your plumbing or wiring!

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