10 posts / 0 new
Last post
wood floor project, help!

We have a 97 year old house and we set out to refinish the 2 ¼” oak strip wood floors. Our contractor told us the stains would lighten but probably not disappear. Well, now it looks worse. The stains didn’t lighten at all and are more pronounced since the overall floor color is lighter. We do not want to stain the floors dark.

Now we are faced with either living with the results or putting in new wood. Our contractor said we can put new wood right on top of the old, but I am suspicious of this advice. Is that advisable? What complicates things is that there is a slight hump in the center of the living room. I worry about how new straight floor boards will lay properly on top of the humped part. Won’t contractions over time of the old floor have an effect on the new wood? What about a leveling compound here? Wouldn’t we first need to analyze the joists and support strength to see if it can handle the extra weight of more floor? We also prefer 5” plank – any thoughts on trouble there?

As you can see a fairly inexpensive refinishing job has turned into costs spiraling out of control if we want to do it correctly and I have many questions as to the correct way to proceed. I feel like we need to stop working with this contractor if he’s not thinking of everything I mentioned here. I just want to know what is advised in our circumstance. Thanks for your help.

Re: wood floor project, help!

Have you thought about just replacing the boards that are stained?
New boards can be installed in many areas without notice when properly done.
How extensive is the problem? Can you post a pic?

As far as the hump, that's a whole new ball game. Is it over a main beam? Is it consistent along the length?

Straightening a floor that has buckled or become uneven is usually a no win situation or at least is prohibitively expensive.

Is this home one that has seen some water damage?

Re: wood floor project, help!

I did think about replacing the stained boards. It was tried in one place and there's a clear difference between old and new.

I've read other posts that talk about leveling uneven floors with leveling compound before laying the new wood, and/or sistering joists to handle the weight.

I wonder how expensive it is to remove the old wood, reinforce any joists, lay new subfloor, then the wood to start anew...

I don't believe the hump is due to water damage, the floor boards don't show any signs of that. (but hey I'm no expert)

I'm not in the house now to post a pic :(

Re: wood floor project, help!

It is nearly impossible to suggest what to do with the limited info you provided. It seems that some of the stains are deeper that what you refinisher had removed with his sander. Also, a finished floor (with 3 layers of your choice stain) won't look as bad as your floor right now (after sanding).

If you don't want to replace problem planks and are determined to remove the floor and install a new one, you will have an oppurtunity to see what's below the floor, and get more accurate estimates. You'll be able to fix the floor supports as well, so that the new floor will be leveled.

How much will it cost? well you know prices do vary by locations. Your best bet is to call at least 3 contractors and find out.

Here in LA area, prices for refinishing start at $2 per sq ft. Not including any framing work.

Re: wood floor project, help!

I think I've asked too many questions in one post. The floor refinishing did not include stain because we want the natural oak finish,not a darker color.

Is it off base to put new wood floor on top of old? or is that typically done?

Re: wood floor project, help!

"Is it off base to put new wood floor on top of old? or is that typically done?"

Yes it is. Why?

- Because you won't be able to make repairs to level the floor.
- Because you will raise the floor by at least 3/4".

Still, I've seen it done, usually bringing frustrating results.

Re: wood floor project, help!

I would use a stain, something like Provincial or Ipswitch Pine, which will be a medium-light color. Natural oak is only done on new installations for the very reasons you have discerned. It will be a warm, lived-in look very much in character of a century-old dwelling. Don't use Early American stain, though; IMO it looks awful on oak.

Re: wood floor project, help!

Here are a few rules of thumb when dealing with stains on wood flooring and wood flooring in general;

You can never match a stain but if you stain the floor slightly darker then the stain the stain will blend in.

Don't go over this floor with new wood flooring especially an unlevel floor - it will be a nightmare.

You can not sand or remove a stain once it is there.

Do not try to replace boards where the stain is. They will be new boards as opposed to your old boards and will take stain differently exposing the fact that you have replaced boards. You would only replace boards if the floor has been rotted out - as in under a leaking radiator.

I have dealt with all of these situations at my 99 year old apartment building and these stains are usually "pet stains" and the only way to blend them is to sand and refinish with a stain slightly darker then the stain. I have also replaced rotted out boards underneath radiators and never got the stain to match the old floor.

If your bottom line is you don't like a dark stain then your only alternative is to remove all the old flooring and replace it - A very expensive proposition.

Re: wood floor project, help!

You could take boards from another area (closets, spare bedroom, etc) and weave them into the high traffic areas replacing the stained boards. That way you are using boards from the original install to do the weave. We did this when re-habbing our home to replace stained and damaged boards and you cannot tell the multiple locations where the boards were replaced in the living and dining rooms. We scavenged the boards for replacement from a bedroom that we then floored with new hardwood.

The above posters are correct, it took the stain differently than the 40 year old boards, but the difference is slight enough that you really have to look for it at the hallway / room transition.

Pat Dagnan
Re: wood floor project, help!

I wonder how expensive it is to remove the old wood, reinforce any joists, lay new subfloor, then the wood to start anew...

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.