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sealing a old floor

Hi, I bought a old building this year & am slowly remodeling it. It was built in the mid to late 1800’s & has pine plank floors. They have been abused. But the weird thing is I like the way they look after cleaning & removing all the staples & tacks from years of carpet. Everybody says I should strip or sand these floors. But the varnish, paint & places it’s all worn through sort of tell a story to me. I do have a small child to think of, so to keep this look I must seal this floor so my child is not exposed to heavy metals that may be present. What I think I want is like a clear enamel, heavy hard & sort of shiny to go over the top of it all. If I have to do it again at some point, thats ok. If not for the kid, I'd let it continue to wear away. Any suggestions are welcome.
PS: I have already been told to have my head examined.

Re: sealing a old floor

The only finish I use on floors is "Old Master's" polyurethane. It provides a hard durable finish and has fantastic self leveling properties.


Blue RidgeParkway
Re: sealing a old floor

marine clear epoxy deck coating?

Re: sealing a old floor

Marine epoxy? That sounds like it would be impervious to a 2 yr old boy. Does it apply like the stuff you put on concrete? Call me old fashoined (& I may change my mind) but I never was in love with polyurethane.

Re: sealing a old floor

Both the previous post are viable suggestions. I would just add that you should start in an inconspicuous area and see how it looks on the floor before going all out and doing the whole thing. If it doesn't come out well its easier to hide a small area than to sand the coating off the entire floor which would surely destroy the look your going for too.

Just one other thing. If this is a home you are going to live in for a long time then by all means go for it and ignore the people who think you are crazy. If however you are going to sell the house in say 4 or 5 years your money may be better spent sanding down the floors completely as it is most likely a buyer will not share your enthusiasm for the worn out floors. Hope this helps you out.


Re: sealing a old floor

Polyurethanes are certainly the most durable of the finishes that can be applied, especially if you anticipate that water may be spilled on the surface. However, many people think that urethanes impart a somewhat plastic look.

For a finish that was used in ages past, try shellac followed by a coat of floor wax. I recently did an old english tudor mansion that had pegged pinewood floors. The owners opted for having the floors hand scraped with curved scrapers to give a hand hewned look. They then finish the floor with a dark stain, shellac and floor wax. The look was in keeping with the english tudor style of the building.

Shellac is probably the most natural of all finishes out there. It was been around for literally thousands of years. It is also one of the best sealers around. It is especially good in sealing in all types of stains and odors that have penetrated the wood.

Given the age of your building, Shellac was probably the original finish used on the floors.

J Roper
Re: sealing a old floor

Shellac has been around for 1000's of years but would mean more maintenence. Varnishes will usually yellow over time but will last pretty well.
Eurathanes wil be tougher, not yellow and not require any up-keep besides cleaning.

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