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Project by dozer326 posted 01-03-2010 08:12 AM 2975 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know this isn’t a woodworking project but it kind of is. I bought an old victorian in Ohio and it has amazing hardwood floors, but they are in horrible shape. I don’t know if they are the originals from 1860 or not. I only saw the house in person for about 30 minutes. Anyone ever deal with something like this? If this post doesn’t meet the standards I will remove it. However, any input would be greatly appreciated!

I guess what I’m asking is there a point when you can’t sand and fill the gaps? The gaps are pretty large in areas. The middle picture is from a bedroom that looks like they stained. I’ve refinished hardwood floors before but nothing that was in this bad of shape. On the other hand, I never saw an inlay like this from such an old house. that’s what makes me think they are not original.

Next question: If they can be saved, anyone have a drum sander, an edger, and some really comfortable knee pads? hahaha

16 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3480 days

#1 posted 01-03-2010 08:20 AM

your picture is not the best here…its hadr to tell…can you get some closer up and make sure there is enought lights…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View patron's profile


13635 posts in 3518 days

#2 posted 01-03-2010 08:28 AM

looks like a nice floor ,
but what are you asking ?
is it old ?
can it be refinished ?
i would say it probably is original ,
from the style .
as far as refinishing ,
floor sander and putty ,
and a good finish .
welcome home !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View dozer326's profile


69 posts in 3466 days

#3 posted 01-03-2010 08:32 AM

I’d have to drive 2300 miles to get you a better picture. I can post a different room that is a closer shot

View a1Jim's profile


117281 posts in 3754 days

#4 posted 01-03-2010 08:44 AM

Like david said I think it can be saved from what iI can see.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 4167 days

#5 posted 01-03-2010 08:58 AM

I vote for saving it whether it’s original or not. Me, I’d hire a pro to do the work though. Using a floor sander and not creating a room full of divots is tricky business for me.

Also, I’d cross post this in “Homerefurbers” at the link at the bottom of the page. Those guys may have some knowledge to share too. Oh, and about removing the posting if it doesn’t go here, I don’t think that’s possible.

-- Jim

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3292 days

#6 posted 01-03-2010 09:26 AM

It´s realy hard to see in the first picture if the inlay is painted or real as well as the mittle sqaere
but the second picture no problem it seem to me that you can use a scraber quet effectiv but
if you want to remove the gabs you have to do the same as a boatbuilder does and decide witch gab is
larges and then use a rauter with the right bit and after cleaning the gabs so they have the same size
you can use a contrast colour gum (whatever the name is in us) to seal the gabs and the effect on the floor
if you do it right will look like a shipdeck

have fun with the scraber
and good luck I hope this had help a little


View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


720 posts in 3450 days

#7 posted 01-03-2010 09:46 AM

It’s kinda hard to tell from the pictures, but it looks like the inlaid floor may be actual inlay rather than painted/stained on.

It is not at all unusual to see such floors in the “public spaces” of homes of that era, i.e., entry halls, living rooms, parlors, sitting rooms, dining rooms. They were often of quality hardwood such as oak, maple, walnut, and sometimes a combination. I would guess that the combination is what you have in the first picture. Home owners often wanted these public spaces to have floors that would “show off” for visitors and neighbors.

Equally common would be for bedrooms on upper floors as well as main floor kitchens, pantries, and such to have pine floors. Many of these rooms, especially those on upper floors, were floored with second quality flooring and the results showed it. It was a way to save money as it was not expected that friends or visitors would see these rooms.

Good luck on your efforts. Replacing these floors with modern wood might remove a lot of the character of the home. You have a diamond in the rough!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4395 days

#8 posted 01-03-2010 04:26 PM

I would definitely save these floors. But my advice would be not to try to make them look like new. Sand relatively smooth, apply new finish, and let their age show through proudly.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 3678 days

#9 posted 01-03-2010 05:24 PM

You should first ascertain how much wood is left to sand. Chances are you have plenty of thickness but if the past owners have refinished them a few times you may be dangerously thin. Although by the look of it I don’t think they saw sandpaper since they were laid. Then find out if there are loose boards these can be glued or nailed with a hidden nail method, Charlie is right don’t try to have a new look leave the imperfection and gaps they give the floors character. If the gaps are too big to fill with the finish you choose fill them with epoxy first then sand flush. I agree with Dave on the inlay and would sand those area by hand you never know how deep they inlayed them in and could easily burn through. Good luck in finding a match for those. How is the trim work in the house? You may want to refinish the base boards at the same time.

Have fun do you have a dead line for this project?

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View dozer326's profile


69 posts in 3466 days

#10 posted 01-03-2010 05:54 PM

Thank you for all the comments! The inlay is definitely real wood. That was the first thing I checked. I’m including a picture of the dining room with wainscoting. This room is right next to the room with the inlay but they have stained it a darker color. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the color change from room to room because then I’d have to deal with the wainscoting. I pulled up one of the old iron vents from the floor when I was there but the sheet metal that had been put in covered the edge of the floor. So I’m unsure of the thickness that is left. The baseboards are in great shape. Deadline for this project?? umm there’s only 3600 square ft of this so I guess I should have it finished by 2020. And that’s if the Mayans and their calender are false. haha. It’s a project I decided to do while I’m still a bachelor and finishing my degree. Ohio’s economy as you know is hurting, so this cost less than a new economy car.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4277 days

#11 posted 01-03-2010 06:16 PM

As a remodeling contractor advising long distance, I would say hire a professional. They will be able to tell you with a personal inspection it if it can be refinished.

My personal thought is that it looks like it can be. I do not recommend adding putty to fill in the cracks. Even though this floor has mostly shrunk over time, it will continue to expand and contract and any filler will start popping out. I have seen this before and I would never fill the cracks, even if they say “it’s flexible filler” it won’t stay in the long run.

When the boards shrink, some of the filler will stick to the left side of the crack and some will stick to the right. That really looks horrible. Refinished floors have an entirely different look than a new floor and that is just the character of them. A new finish on a floor that displays it’s age with cracks and gaps is “the look” for this situation and will be great in your house.

I finished 6 floors early in my career. They were immaculate jobs when finished and it was back breaking work. I found that it was cheaper to hire it done professionally and with a crew of 4 to 6 people they could knock it out in a fraction of the time. I made more money having them do it while I worked on another part of the job that I was better suited to take care of. They also warranty the work.

I have never had an issue with my finishes but I have seen homeowners refinish floors to have them start peeling in the first year because they did not strip the wax.

Running a drum sander takes some experience to produce a flat job without gouges. You can use a circle sander to avoid this but it takes forever to sand the floor down with one of these units. I have seen a couple of homeowner jobs done with a drum sander and they were butchered. Fortunately, when all the furniture and throw rugs are added into the room it doesn’t show.

You must remember to not judge the floor finish like it’s a piece of furniture. The floor is not sanded to the same level as furniture, and the minor dips in the sanding job will not be seen when the furniture and throw rugs are put in place. No matter how good the floor finishing team is, there will always be some inflections in the surface from the sanding machine.

I have made and installed trim for a couple of remodeled Victorian houses in Ohio and it was a fun challenge to match the new pieces to the old in color and profile. The result was success and happy homeowners in each case. I could have a good time refurbing Victorian homes.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View patron's profile


13635 posts in 3518 days

#12 posted 01-03-2010 06:21 PM

good news for sure ,
you can add a 3/4” ( or similar ) ” toenail ” trim to the base ,
after you get done sanding ,
to cover the scuff marks from the edging sander .
this is standard in old remodels ,
maybe back bevel the bottom of it ,
so it comes down tight ,
to the slight rise at the edge of the floor .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4165 days

#13 posted 01-03-2010 06:25 PM

I would at least try to save that room in the first picture.

If the rest of the rooms are plain I wouldn’t worry about them nearly as much.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 3283 days

#14 posted 01-03-2010 07:01 PM

I reinstalled reclaimed oak floors from a 1920’s house into all of my house a few years ago. It was alot of work but the floor turned out great. If it helps you can see some photos in my profile with the toy trucks on the floor. Hard to tell but it looks like yours could be saved. Old wood floors are well worth trying to keep.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 4000 days

#15 posted 01-03-2010 11:01 PM

Refinish the floor and save it. The character of the details in the floor tell a story of it’s life.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

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