Questions about floor refinishing/restoration
December 5, 2017 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Do you know anything about floor sanding/refinishing/restoration?

We are moving into a flat that has old hardwood floorboards (some bare, some covered with carpet) that are in pretty bad condition -- definitely walkable on, but some are loose and they are just ugly with scuffs and stains, etc. Flat is quite old (about 150 years old) but I doubt they are original. Half the boards are very dark wood, half are light, though I don't know what kind of wood they are. I want them to be fairly light wood.

We need to get someone to sand and refinish them ASAP, but I actually don't know what I want! Oil? Varnish? Satin or Matte or Gloss? I don't want them super duper shiny -- right? I have kids but no pets, and want something durable. There is so much info on the internet that I'm having trouble sorting through it and am hoping someone has done this before.

What other questions should I be asking or thinking about? (And if by chance anyone knows someone who does this in London, let me know!) Thanks!
posted by caoimhe to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get your flooring person in first -- you can ask them all these questions. Many answers will depend on your particular floors (condition, wood type, square footage). For example, you might ask:

1) Is it possible to either (a) refinish the darker boards light to match the lighter ones, or (b) to replace those boards with others that would be a good match? how good a match?

2) Can the loose boards be secured, or do those need some other kind of fix?

3) Are the floors under the carpet salvagable, or do they have too many nail holes?

4) Given answers to (1)--(3), what are the relative merits and costs of refinishing the floors versus replacing them?

As for sealers, ask what they recommend and why. I think you probably prefer something that doesn't give off too many toxic gasses, but other factors are how long they take to cure (how long you have to stay out of the flat) and how durable the finishes are. I prefer a matte or satin finish, both for its more natural look and less likely to show scratches, but there's no right answer there. Explain that you have kids but no pets and see what they suggest.

Good luck!
posted by acm at 7:23 AM on December 5, 2017

If you rent, I would be extremely wary of doing any of the refurbishment yourself unless you have a direct agreement with the landlord / property manager, as you may need to bring them back into the condition you found them in at the end of the agreement.

If you own the property, I would consult a flooring expert to ascertain if the woods are the same across the house and the general condition of the floor. We have a 150 year old house and the flooring is bare wood in some places and painted (was a style) in other places. We solved the problem pretty significantly by laying down wood flooring laminate that can be removed when we're ready to tackle the big job of floor renovation. It has greatly lowered the heating costs for the house.

Should you be intent on going ahead, the best name in flooring in London is Vincent Reed ( It will cost, but better to have a survey from an expert who can give you line of sight about problems and solutions than a handyman who will leave you out in the cold when the job becomes too difficult for their skills.
posted by parmanparman at 7:24 AM on December 5, 2017

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