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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's my current project. It's actually at my parents house, I've been on break from school and haven't had much else to do but this. The house was built in the 1830's with lumber they milled out of our woods. The flooring I'm almost positive is white oak.

You can see where the termites had quite a feast. You can also see the darker areas where I've been removing the glue that was on the floor (There was luanan then carpet covering this flooring).



Here's another pic that shows the glue I still need to melt and scrape off.



Ok, this is the look I'm going for. This was done by my dad about 5 years ago in our living room (same type of subfloor). This room was a little different because he had to remove the old shellac with zipstrip (Methyl...something). It's a little dirty now in between the grooves but it looks really nice when it's cleaned up. I think my former boss told me the lighter areas in the hardwood are from lime that's in the wood.

I'm going to follow basically the same method he used minus the zipstrip. Everything will be cleaned with soap and water. After everything is completely cleaned, then I'll apply the shellac.

The flooring in the living room is really nice because it was never sanded and you can really notice the wood grain texture.

This is really the first actual wood flooring I've ever done. When I worked for a remodeler before I went to school, all we ever did was floating floors.

Anyone have experience with refinishing old floors like this and have any tips?
Thanks
 

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I think that most of the floor finishers here are going for "the perfect sanding" look.

You are trying to restore an antique with this job,just remove as may of the"Insults" that have happened in the last century and a half.

Clean off the crud- clean again with mineral spirits (that is flammable-so be careful) Then apply your finish--That's what I would suggest. If any patching is needed-you should be able to find a mill near by that can sell you some rough sawn White oak.

Nice project--Your folks will be pleased.--MIKE--
 

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Project Superintendent
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I'm not a flooring contractor but I know a little about old wood, that looks like heart pine to me. If it was mine I would sand it and finish with poly. Leave enough of the defects and gaps between boards etc. so that it keeps it's character, but that would really show off the wood grain. People pay a lot of money for that look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the comments. As far as patching things up, there's a small outfit in town that sells reclaimed barn siding and I currently have an order with them for some oak (I thought our floor was oak but maybe not). I'll stain it to match the shellac that'll be on the rest of the floor.

They might consider sanding it, not 100% what they'll want to do, though they talked about having me do it the same way my dad did a few years back. I really like the old milling marks that are on it though.

Now that you mention it, I think I remember him saying something about cleaning everything with mineral spirits.

Thanks again!
 

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Looks like oak

I would guess oak. I'm not an expert, so I could be wrong. Impossible to tell from the photos if it is white or red oak. Could even be ash, but looks like oak. Given this floor is maybe 180 years old, don't you want to consider at least having a pro take a look at it before doing anything to it?
 

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How are you telling?

that is Heart pine~ I am 99.9% of that~ definitely not oak and good luck on the your project
I defer to you and Mudpad. How can you tell from these photos with the heavy stain on it? On some old floors I see I can't tell for sure, but a lot around here are popular. If the floor is in rough shape I have a hard time telling exactly what it is. Any tips?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry for the delay. Never had a flooring pro look at it but talked to an old woodworker who liked the look on the other floor and recommended doing the same thing to this floor. I'll post a few more pics of the current floor tonight, maybe a pic from the basement looking up and maybe a close up of it. You're probably right about it being heart pine then, for some reason I just always thought it was oak.
 

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Project Superintendent
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It is the grain structure that appears to lead me in this conclusion~ do you see the similarities?:rolleyes:
Right, and the fact that the light areas in that grain pattern are softer than the dark areas, and on an old floor with lots of wear the softer wood will recede, leaving a raised grain pattern that is visible thru all the staining.

But, it is still hard to be 100% sure from a photo, or even if you are standing on it, until you get a piece loose and do a little investigative whittling:laughing:
 

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Right, and the fact that the light areas in that grain pattern are softer than the dark areas, and on an old floor with lots of wear the softer wood will recede, leaving a raised grain pattern that is visible thru all the staining.

But, it is still hard to be 100% sure from a photo, or even if you are standing on it, until you get a piece loose and do a little investigative whittling:laughing:

I'm typically pretty good at identifying old wood, but from those pics, I'm struggling to say for sure. I can see a few board that look somewhat like whiteoak. First pic has 2 boards that really look like quartersawn whiteoak. I do know if I had one in hand, I could tell you within 5 seconds if it's oak or heart pine.
 

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I'm typically pretty good at identifying old wood, but from those pics, I'm struggling to say for sure. I can see a few board that look somewhat like whiteoak. First pic has 2 boards that really look like quartersawn whiteoak. I do know if I had one in hand, I could tell you within 5 seconds if it's oak or heart pine.
I noticed that radial grain pattern, like quarter sawn white oak as well, which is why I am still not 100 % sure. But you see that kind of pattern in rift cut heart pine too, just not for the same reason.

In the last half of the 19th century, in the south, old growth southern yellow pine was the material of choice for joists and flooring, because of it's abundance. That may not be the case where this house is located, so I am still hedging my bets:thumbsup:
 

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I noticed that radial grain pattern, like quarter sawn white oak as well, which is why I am still not 100 % sure. But you see that kind of pattern in rift cut heart pine too, just not for the same reason.

In the last half of the 19th century, in the south, old growth southern yellow pine was the material of choice for joists and flooring, because of it's abundance. That may not be the case where this house is located, so I am still hedging my bets:thumbsup:

I agree on yellow pine being the typical wood of the period. More often than not, 3 1/4" wide. I'd like to see a board or 2 with the finish removed & I'd be a lot more confident in giving an educated guess.

We refinish a lot of floors from that period.
 

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Those are Ash floors.

I have the same thing in my farm house.
They sand like steel and you are not ever going to get them perfect.
You need to think along the lines of how old they are, the character they have, that will guide the end result.

I have used a combination of drum floor sander and 4 of my Festool sanders. No way no how will they be flat.
You just need them to blend, use hemp rope to fill big gaps.

I was able to rob some from a small room to fix most of the bad boards, I milled up some thick new stock as well. I am also getting creative filling the holes where the old registers were.

Yes, they are Ash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, for what it's worth, here's a couple of close-up pics.

This is from the basement looking up



Another from the basement


Now, a couple of close-ups looking down


 

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Hmmm....it could be ash. Your gonna have to get a sample and take it to someone and let us know what it is. Now I'm curious.
 

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No doubt in my mind, that's white oak. It will make an awesome looking primative floor.
 

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Whatever it is it's worth saving and restoring, to whatever level of finish you deem appropriate.
 
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