Successfully Renovate Any Type of Wood Flooring in the Home
Varnish has always been a popular choice of finishing for solid wood flooring. As well as being attractive, clean and bright looking, varnished floors are robust, versatile and easy to maintain. In fact there is really only one problem with a varnished floor and that is the highlighting of gaps, cracks and flaws in the boards. However, these faults are usually easy to rectify, and with a little bit of effort mixed with creativity and DIY know-how you can successfully renovate any type of solid wood floor.
The usual run of scrapes, scratches, small holes, stains and the like which are caused by outdoor shoes, animal claws and spillages can be treated by floor sanding and finishing. The first thing to do is to make good any repair jobs and secure loose planks.
Squeaking is caused by boards which have shrunk, and whilst carpeting will muffle the squeak for a while when the floorboards are exposed the noise will be louder (not to mention more annoying). Gaps between the boards can be filled with a paste of papier mache and woodstain, epoxy resin or a wood sealant. If the gaps are too large to be filled in this way then you can cut a wedge of wood, fit it in place and secure with wood glue.
Remember if you choose this method of gap filling to wait maximum time for the glue to set before hand-sanding the topside of the wood to be flush with the surrounding planks. If the new wood looks significantly different from the rest of the floor you can stain it to match.
Uneven planks can be secured by nailing into place, but make sure all nail heads are flush with the floor. Apart from being an accident waiting to happen, raised nails will snag on the sanding machine and rip the paper. If nails cannot eliminate the squeak try drilling a little hole from the plank into the joist and screwing (not hammering) in place.
Sometimes scuffed varnished areas can be effectively refreshed by lightly rubbing the damaged areas with wet and then dry sandpaper. Rather than concentrating directly on the mark, try gently rubbing around the area feathering outwards from the core so that it looks more blended rather than an obvious repair job. When you are finished wipe away residual grit and gently clean with white spirit.
When the area is completely dry brush on the varnish (both clear and coloured toxin-free varnishes are available) but instead of brushing straight on, try lifting the brush slightly away from the floor as you move towards the undamaged area, again this helps with creating a blended effect. If the varnish you are using is coloured then check the final (dried) effect with the rest of the floor. It is only when varnish is properly dry can its final colour be seen. Remember that varnish will become naturally darker every time you coat, so if you are borderline as to whether to add another coat or not then split the difference by applying a clear varnish.
Dealing with ‘cupping’
Softwood flooring in particular can be susceptible to a slight curve across the board width. This feature, called cupping, generally adds to the authenticity of original floorboards and occurs when certain areas of the floor have escaped the attention of a floor sander. There is no real reason to eliminate cupping in terms of aesthetics, but it does mean the cupped planks are less protected and therefore exposed to additional wear and tear. Cupping usually occurs in high traffic areas and as such can be treated by area rather than working on the entire floor.
Remove the edges of cupped planking with an electric sander or sanding block. Always wear gloves and eye protection to protect against possible splintering. This process should only take a few moments and it is important to avoid over-sanding. Once the plank is even and smooth it can be finished as normal.