How to Restore Your Victorian Home’s Hardwood Floors

How to Restore Your Victorian Home’s Hardwood Floors
  • Opening Intro -

    One of the biggest selling points of a historic home, particularly one of the Victorian era, is the original flooring.

    The rich wood, often handcrafted, is unique and adds distinct beauty to the house.

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In order to bring it back to its former prominence, however, you must carefully restore the floor, especially if alternate flooring was laid over it at some point in its history. Below you will learn the basics to restoring historic hardwood floors.

Assess the Damage

Oftentime the wood floors have been covered up over the years by linoleum or carpeting, which can cause some (fixable) damage to the wood. Unfortunately, if it’s got linoleum glue on it, it will be more difficult to restore as the glue has to be scraped off. Then there’s the work of removing the staining from the adhesive. Some sections may not be salvageable and may require a patch.

If a board is particularly damaged, it can be cut out or removed and replaced with wood either salvaged from another historic building or a new piece that most closely resembles it. Sadly, if this is necessary, the look of the floor may change and be less uniform. If a board is discolored, it will need to bleached, which requires fully removing the finish by sanding and bleaching it.

Filling in the Holes of Time

Wood putty is a necessary tool to restoring a wood floor. The putty fills in any scratches or gouges that may have occurred from linoleum or carpet tacks. Definitely, some wear and tear on floors adds to its character, but major chunks missing from the floor definitely need to be filled in. The easiest way to fill in the entire floor is to spread a latex filler over it.

Sanding

Wooden floor sanding removes the years of grime, layers of finish, and also smooths out any irregularities, particularly from damage. The best type of sander to use is an orbital sander because it’s more gentle than a traditional sander. Although it does take longer to sand that way, it does help the wood retain its integrity.

Home owners should ensure they wear a mask, as well as put up protective barriers around their home to keep the dust from settling onto furniture or coating the walls. However, if home owners are lucky enough to have a wood floor that’s simply worn, they don’t have to re-sand it. Instead, they can use a technique called scuff-sanding using a buffer and then apply a fresh coat of finish.

Restoring the Past

Because the wood used in a historic home is usually taken from old growth trees, a penetrating oil finish would work better than a polyurethane finish. Oil will soak into the wood and protect it from the inside and helps the wood retain its more natural look, restoring its glow and vibrancy.

Refinishing a floor can be time consuming, but for those who fell in love with the historic beauty of their home, it’s well worth the time and effort. Having those floors, which whisper the history of the house with each creak and notch, is a gift towards the history of the home.

About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here. This article was cowritten by the Wooden Floor Specialists, who specialize in professional wooden floor sanding.

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