Restoring oak floors.

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Keith

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Apr 26, 2008, 2:05:59 PM4/26/08
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We're nearing completion of our holiday home restoration project, next step
is the upstairs floors. There's 100 sqm of oak boards, over an inch thick,
not T & G, in pretty good condition, just dirty. When I suggested sanding
and varnishing them our builder nearly had a fit, because he says varnishing
them would seal the top, and cause the planks to warp, and rot from
underneath. (The house has been unoccupied for two years).

They're going to be left uncovered, except for rugs, once finished, so what
would be the best way to finish them after sanding?

Thanks in advance


Keith

** Posted from http://www.teranews.com **

Anna Kettle

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Apr 26, 2008, 3:03:30 PM4/26/08
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On Sat, 26 Apr 2008 21:05:59 +0300, "Keith"
<keith...@googlemail.com> wrote:

>We're nearing completion of our holiday home restoration project, next step
>is the upstairs floors. There's 100 sqm of oak boards, over an inch thick,
>not T & G, in pretty good condition, just dirty. When I suggested sanding
>and varnishing them our builder nearly had a fit, because he says varnishing
>them would seal the top, and cause the planks to warp, and rot from
>underneath. (The house has been unoccupied for two years).
>
>They're going to be left uncovered, except for rugs, once finished, so what
>would be the best way to finish them after sanding?

Well I can tell you how I have finished my oak floors and they look
lovely ...

1. I didnt sand them. The patina of age looks lovely and sanding
removes it

2. I scrubbed them with Flash and water and allowed to dry

3. I beeswaxed them. Its possible to buy beeswax polish ready made but
I got beeswax from my friendly local beekeeper 20GBP for a bucketful
which is enough to wax every floor in the street. Grate or chill and
smash to make it into small lumps. Pour real turpentine over it 22GBP
for 5 litres which will do a few floors. Leave for a few days,
stirring occasionally.

Wipe it into the surface, allow to dry, repeat, polish

It will look lovely, you will need to top up the wax on the most
heavily trafficked parts occasionally. You might not want to wax under
rugs. I waxed those areas once and then put a gripper mat under the
rug

Anna
--

~ ~ Anna Kettle, Suffolk, England
|""""| ~ Lime plaster repair and conservation
/ ^^ \ // Freehand modelling in lime: overmantels, pargeting etc
|_____|/ www.kettlenet.co.uk

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Andy Hall

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Apr 26, 2008, 3:28:33 PM4/26/08
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I agree with the builder. Applying varnish to an oak floor is
sacrilege and will make it look like a plastic laminate. Sanding it
would also be a real shame because you will destroy any patina and
again make it look plasticy - a wash with a strong detergent should be
fine.

A good solution is to use an oil mixture consisting of boiled linseed
oil, beeswax and genuine turpentine (not substitute). Apply the
first coat fairly liberally then wipe off after a couple of hours.
Repeat after 24hrs with less and again after a further 48. Don't
allow it to puddle. Place any rags in a bucket of water outside -
they can otherwise spontaneously combust.

Maintenance can be with a tiny amount of beeswax applied and then
buffed using a floor polisher.


Keith

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Apr 26, 2008, 3:37:50 PM4/26/08
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>>
> I agree with the builder. Applying varnish to an oak floor is sacrilege
> and will make it look like a plastic laminate. Sanding it would also be a
> real shame because you will destroy any patina and again make it look
> plasticy - a wash with a strong detergent should be fine.
>
> A good solution is to use an oil mixture consisting of boiled linseed oil,
> beeswax and genuine turpentine (not substitute). Apply the first
> coat fairly liberally then wipe off after a couple of hours. Repeat
> after 24hrs with less and again after a further 48. Don't allow it to
> puddle. Place any rags in a bucket of water outside - they can
> otherwise spontaneously combust.
>
> Maintenance can be with a tiny amount of beeswax applied and then buffed
> using a floor polisher.
>
>

Thanks all, beeswax and elbow grease it is, then. No wonder the builder
thought I was mad. As for not asking him, my grasp of Bulgarian is very,
very poor.

Thanks

ma...@atics.co.uk

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Apr 26, 2008, 6:56:10 PM4/26/08
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Keith
As William Morris, Ruskin et al stated when setting up the SPAB
"repair not restore"
I agree with the others that you need to do the absolute minimum and
not remove the patina of age which is irreplacable. Clean and wax is
the maximum intervention and I would be careful on the former. I deal
with the philosophy and actual repair of old buildings and was for
some time the lecturer to the professionals at the week long APAB
course and so can speak with a modicum of experience of professionals
have approach such matters over the last 130 odd years.
Chris

George (dicegeorge)

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Apr 26, 2008, 7:54:38 PM4/26/08
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http://www.spab.org.uk/

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was founded by William
Morris in 1877 to counteract the highly destructive 'restoration' of
medieval buildings being practised by many Victorian architects. Today it is
the largest, oldest and most technically expert national pressure group
fighting to save old buildings from decay, demolition and damage.

http://www.spab.org.uk/html/advice/technical-qas/
--

[george]

thanks for the mention of SPAB Chris,
I'll peruse it later and learn!
[george]
>

Keith

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Apr 27, 2008, 3:12:56 AM4/27/08
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"George (dicegeorge)" <diceg...@xxxhotmail.com> wrote in message
news:fv0fdf$jn7$1...@energise.enta.net...

Fascinating site, thanks George and Chris'


--

Stuart Noble

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Apr 27, 2008, 6:59:46 AM4/27/08
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Beeswax isn't ideal. It has too low a melting point and becomes tacky in
summer. If it's going to be the sole ingredient, I would certainly think
twice about using in in Bulgaria.

Commercial polishes contain a balance of waxes where beeswax and
carnauba combined account for only about 25% of the total. More isn't
better in this case.

The Natural Philosopher

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Apr 27, 2008, 7:18:34 AM4/27/08
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Agreed. And whilst modern *varnishes* are not ideal, modern *polishes*
may well be far better than the organic alternatives.

Stuart Noble

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Apr 27, 2008, 8:10:33 AM4/27/08
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There's a lot of prejudice about varnishes. They don't seal to the point
where air and water vapour cannot pass. With ventilation under the
boards, there shouldn't be any question of rotting.

As for them making things look like plastic, that is entirely in the
hands of the person doing the finishing. You can make a wax finish look
like varnish or vice versa depending on how much you apply and how you
do it.

Modern polishes are usually emulsions of synthetic waxes with a melting
point that's off the scale, but they don't perform well on bare wood.
They don't have the bulk to fill the pores or the transparency to show
off the wood. Good for sealed surfaces in commercial premises.

Owain

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Apr 27, 2008, 7:53:31 PM4/27/08
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Stuart Noble wrote:
> Keith wrote:
>> Thanks all, beeswax and elbow grease it is, then. No wonder the
>> builder thought I was mad. As for not asking him, my grasp of
>> Bulgarian is very, very poor.
> .... I would certainly think twice about using in in Bulgaria.

Do they still have any Bulgarian builders left in Bulgaria?

Owain

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