Refinishing Softwood Flooring in London Homes
London homeowners who have homes built between 1850 and 1900 may well have original softwood flooring in their homes as softwoods, and pine in particular, were widely used for floor sanding around this time. If you are thinking about refinishing your floor then you are right to consider carefully before jumping in to the softwood refurbishment process. This is not a small project, but if you are ready to refurbish and refinish your softwood floor then it’s a job that’s worth doing well.
In addition to being physically fit with a strong back and knees and with a basic knowledge of carpentry and DIY in general, refinishing a floor will mean long periods spend on the knees or crouched in corners or in small spaces, particularly if stairs are being refinished. Refinishing your softwood floor will also be fairly time consuming, so be sure to allocate enough time to complete all of the steps properly.
Types of softwoods
While it would be fair to say that pine is the most popular choice of softwood flooring, especially in bedrooms and low traffic areas, it also offers a bright, clean appearance making it ideal to brighten up any dark room.
Other types of softwoods include cedar, ash, fir and birch, whilst maple has the unique distinction of being in both the soft and hardwood category. Softwoods are derived from rapid-growing coniferous trees and as such are more readily available than are hardwoods, making softwoods less expensive as well as eco-friendly.
What’s the difference?
As the name suggests the thicker density of hardwoods such as mahogany, teak and oak means that they can withstand wear and tear better than softwoods. For example, stiletto heels have destroyed the look of many a softwood floor whereas with a hardwood the more resilient nature of the wood affords the wood additional protection. However, wherever possible avoid wearing heels on any type of real wood floor.
The refinishing process for softwoods
The procedure for finishing softwoods is different from that of hardwood refurbishment, although this does not mean it is impossible to undertake or that it is not worthwhile. A beautifully restored pine or Douglas fir floor adds brightness to any type of room and is especially popular in conservatories.
Because softwoods are more delicate you should take extra special care with the sander and never let the machine run static or it will carve out some very nasty gouges in the floor. As with sanding hardwood, begin with a coarse grain of paper and work up to fine, but a good idea is to err on the side of caution and if you are unsure as to what paper to use, choose a finer grade rather than a coarse paper. This will mean more sandings but at least you will know you are not being over-heavy on the floor.
If you feel unsure of tackling your floor with an industrial sander a viable alternative is to strip the floor with a non-toxic soy gel solution and a screening sander. Alternatively, you can obtain a cost-free quotation from a specialist floor sanding company.
Because you are working with softwood you should ensure your finishing offers a sufficiently strong veneer such as varnish or a finishing type with a hardening agent additive for extra protection. Floor Sanding and Varnishing in particular brings a real shine to light coloured wood and a clean and sparkling finish to the room. In addition varnish brings out the beautiful grain of pine and cedar without affecting the delicate shade of the wood.
Spending time to refinish with care will not only enhance your softwood floor but make it more durable too, adding many years of service before a further refinishing is required.