Working on old wood flooring

I’m taking out my wall-to-wall, and also want to spiff up the rest of the (apparent) oak flooring from 1927. There is a fair amount of old dirt and stains, and the finish is gone from some, but not all, of the floor.

I’m not ready to do the sand-and-refinish. What is a good way to clean it up, and what should I wax or finish it with?

I’ve talked about my flooring woes in another thread. The quick story is that I found hardwood under the carpet in my 40(ish) year old house in two bedrooms and the hallway. From that I assumed there was hardwood thorughtout. Boy was I wrong. I had nice 70’s style linoleum in the family room.

Anyway, I had a company come in and resand and refinish the floors that did have hardwood. Worth every penny. Just curious… Why are you not ready to do the sand and refinish? In my case I wanted to wait for the sand and refinish until I painted the walls. Once I had that done, it was floor time. I couldn’t live in the house for 4 days so they could wait for each coat of poly to dry.

As far as suggestions for your floor if you’re not ready to do the sand & refinish… what about a throw rug or something?

I don’t really have a specific suggestions, but think twice about applying wax, or any penetrating sealer to the wood as it will limit your options later on (even if you sand it the wax will remain & make it impossible for a surface finish like polyurethane to adhere).

Basically if you are not going to sand & refinish, do as little as possible.

Another vote for the “sand and refinish” approach. One possible caution – there’s only a limited number of times you can do that before you sand down to the nails.

The biggest problem with just doing a quick fix-up job is that you have no idea what the current finish on the wood is. At this point, with multiple owners over the past 80 years, it could be anything ranging from varnish to wax to polyurethane. There are various ways of testing it (dropping solvents on an out-of-the-way spot and seeing what happens) but it’s unlikely you’ll get a really good match.

It is true that certain cleansers (e.g. Murphy’s Oil soap) will affect future finishing options. At the very least, you’ll have to sand and probably use some sort of degreaser to make sure that the poly will adhere properly.

Well, there is a product for this actually and I happen to have used it.

I don’t remember the name of it, but I purchased it at the Home Depot. It was a three step process, and came with alternating applicators as well. I think it cost around a hundred dollars, $C. It did the entry hall, 8 X 14’ and the livingroom, 12 X 14’ quite handily.

I also moved into a home, pulled up wall to wall, 40 yr old, broadloom and discovered a fabulous and intricate inlayed hardwood floor. The surface was marked from the disintegrating underpadding and the finish was spotty in a lot of places. We really didn’t think it could take a sanding without being damaged.

It wasn’t especially difficult to do, we did it ourselves, I think it went like this;
Scour with 1st product, then wipe surface dry, (cleaning agent).
Damp mop with 2nd product, allow to dry, (bonding agent).
Spread final finish, with special applicator mop head, allow to dry, could be one
day or two, I can’t recall now.

That was 4 yrs ago, it did a wonderful job. Has held up precisely as promised and requires no waxing or oiling or polishing, just the occassional damp mop. Both of these areas see lots of use.

I had my doubts about this product, but have to say, I can recommend it without reservation as an alternative to sanding and refinishing.