Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Floors and Woodwork

Well maybe this is the post I was thinking of when I started the last one. I went from wood to rotting old boards. Not much fun, but I've always felt you should work from the ground up.

Old homes and woodwork go together. Even modest homes of the twenties had wood features that make us drool today.

We can start with floors. Someone once told me that in Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the early 1900's building code required homes to have hardwood floors. True? I don't know.

Common floors were red oak or maple. I'm told sometimes birch was used, but I can't tell the difference between birch and maple . Often the main floor or formal area of the home had oak floors and woodwork. The second floor or less formal areas often had maple. Seems like the maple was the first to get painted.

I've refinished original floors in kitchens and bathrooms that came out quite nice.

Some renovation notes. Floor refinshers will want to refinsh floors without staining them. This way they can avoid a step and get the job done faster. It is well worth taking the time and spending just a little extra to stain oak floors. Oak stains up nicely.

Maple is the opposite. It has such tight pores the stain tends to blotch and look bad. If you have maple floors and you want a richer color, try an oil base poly eurethane. As it ages it has a richer honey color.

If you are thinking of using salvaged hardwood floors be careful. All of the floor boards should be run through a planer before installing other wise it will be nearly impossible to sand evenly because of wear patterns from the old floor.

Salvaged or new flooring can not be left in any place that is not climate controlled before installation. Moisture content will climb in less than two weeks and the boards will swell. They will shrink again after installation leaving gaps between the floor baords.

When you order new wood floors you can pay extra and get longer boards, otherwise modern hardwood floors tend to have a lot of three or four foot boards. I don't think this affects function, but the longer boards are more like old homes.

Don't use oil soap, or floor wax on hardwood floors. If you can stick with this rule you can have the floors buffed and a coat of varnish added for a resonable cost and your floors will look lke new again.

I always imagine hardwood to be under old carpet or vinyl in the old neighborhoods. It is likely, but a gamble to expect it without seeing it.

I know of at least one home in Highland Park with wood floors just around the perimeter of each room because it was built that way. I know of a couple homes with similar floor situations because renovators cut most of the floor out because of animal urine and twice I've seen floors with fire damage when the carpet was removed. Often parts of floors are missing where walls have been moved. A lot of things can happen in a hundred years.

On the flip side I have seen homes with perfect floors under the carpet that only needed a good scrubbing. I've seen horrible looking floors that sanded out to look like new. Much better than going to the casino in my opinion.

I guess this one turned into wood floors. We still have other wood things to cover. Maybe nest time.

No comments: