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Wood Floor Q's & A's

Gaps | Finishing & Refinishing | Removing Tar/Adhesive | Redoing | Wax | Dents | Sagging | Pergo
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Floorboard Gaps: Filling and Reducing Drafts

The wide pine floorboards in my 200 yr old house are separating in places, for reasons unknown. The space between some of them is open to the cellar,and tends to be drafty and cold. Can I insulate the cellar ceiling with fiberglass rolls or something? It has been suggested to fill the gaps with something, but who knows what? What would be the best thing to do??

A couple things.

One, yes you can and should insulate the floor. The only exception to this is if you need the heat down there for plumbing, and heat down through the floor is the only source to prevent those pipes from freezing.

Usually you can insulate around the pipes to keep them inside the insulation, towards to warm floor. If you need to keep it warm down there, then maybe you should insulate the basement walls.

The insulation you would use is fiberglass. Comes in rolls and just pushes up into the space between the floor joists. Since your house is old, it probably will not have nice evenly spaced 16 inch on center joists. You can use Fishing line or small gauge wire to old the insulation up, strung across the joists, stapled to each, to support the insulation.

The pine boards shrunk as they dried out. If I am correct, the gaps are larger in the winter (when the relative humidity is low) and close up some in the summer. If you fill the gaps in the winter, the boards may tend to cup and buckle come summer. (Pine especially wide boards, will shrink and swell significantly with the seasons)

Filling Hardwood Floor Gaps

There is a small gap between 2 of my boards. Is there anything I could use to fill the gap to keep out the dirt?

Try to find some wood filler that matches the color of your floor and apply it with a putty knife.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

I have prefinished hardwood floors in my home that are about 5 years old. They are getting scratched and dull. I want to refinish them. I was told by the manufacturer of the floors I can just coat them a few times with a water base polyurethane.  I do not need to sand of the pre existing finish off just lightly sand between each coat. Sounds easy but I think it will probably be more complicated than that.

It is a relatively easy task. Take heart, I believe it is well within your ability.

All you need to do sanding-wise is scuff up the finish to get the new finish to adhere to the one before it. I would recommend doing it before the first coat, as well as in-between coats. You DON'T want to use a power sander for this. Just use fine grade sand paper attach it to a block of wood with a piece of felt glued to it. Make the block of wood a comfortable size for you to hold.

Use the block and rubbing with the grain, just rub the wood enough to scuff the surface. (just a few passes will do this) Vacuum and use tack cloth to remove all the dust before each coat.

Refinishing Old Wood Floor

I need info of any kind ASAP on the easiest, best, & quickest way to refinish an old ugly wood floor. I've been told I should sand, stain, poly, & this true or is there a less "painful" way? Thank you in advance. I'll be checking back here soon for a reply.

Well I think the sand poly is the best route for a traditional wood floor. Personally I would skip the stain. But if it was previously stained you may you may have to because of the color left in the wood.

There is another approach though. Wooded floors can be painted and can be quite appealing that way too. Including stenciled borders etc. It was a very standard finish once upon a time.

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I am a DIY homeowner and have refinished wood floors. I think they look as good as the floors that have been refinished professionally. Yes, it is messy, but you can save quite a bit of money and also impress your visitors with your handiwork. I would recommend 3 coats of polyurethane, and the stain is optional. I like the look of unstained wood, but that is a personal opinion.

Refinishing a Parquet Floor: Sanding Procedure

I would like to refinish a parquet floor in my kitchen which is worn down. I'm unsure if I should sand it down because the grain of the wood is not consistent (as with a parquet floor). Would I damage the floor if I sanded it down? Should I just use a stripper to remove the old stain?

The stripper won't remove the stain.. strippers work on paint.. but stain goes deep enough into the wood that it generally can not be stripped off.

As for sanding... how thick is the wood? I believe you can sand it... but you would want to use a random orbital sander to account for the cross grain sanding...

Floor Finishes: Water or Oil-Based?

Is there an easy way to test a wood floor finish to discover if it is water or oil-based polyurethane?

Normally you can tell by looking at it. If it appears yellowish or looks as though it has a buildup, it probably oil based. Also you can tell by how old the finish is. Water based finishes didn't become popular until about 10 years ago or less. So if it's older, it's probably oil based.

Finishing Pine Flooring

I am getting ready to lay a jack pine floor and am wondering what is the best way to finish it? I would like to age the wood and darken it.

If you use an oil based urethane it will yellow and darken over time. With pine you will get nicks and gouges in the floor (after accidentally dropping things on it) for that rustic look. If you want a clearer, harder finish, go for the water based urethanes.

Making Hardwood Floors Really Glossy

I am refinishing really old hardwood floors. We have already sanded, stained, and varnished(polyurethane) the floors. What do we put on the floors to make them really glossy? The varnish makes them shine but I thought maybe there is a special wax that we could put on them to make them look like there is a thick clear coat on top. What do you recommend?

How many coats of polyurethane did you put on them? I think two or three will give a them a good gloss. If you want that gymnasium look 100% pure carnuba wax will do the trick.


Three to 5 coats should give you a good as glass finish. Allow more drying time than instructions say, especially if in humid conditions.Sand lightly between coats.

If you got regular polyurethane finish, this may not be the product you really want. Go back to the store and tell them you want a 'gym floor finish' and they can fix you up.

BIG TIP: allow lots of time for the final finish to cure--5 to 10 days before you put any furniture on it or it will be marred!!!Ask me how I learned that one. After so much work you just want to kill yourself. You can walk on it in sock feet before that, but no doggie toenails and no shoes--the grit on the shoes will grind in.

Removing Tar from Wood Floors

We recently purchased a house from the early 1900's and the previous owners laid down old laminate floor and used a tar material to stick to it, well when we ripped up the old laminate there was a very thick layer of tar/adhesive on top of the wood floors. My question is...Is there a way to get that tar/adhesive taken off besides commercial adhesive strippers, and scraping? (which we have already tried)

No, certainly nothing easy comes to mind. If you can get most of it scraped off, you can rent a floor sander and use a course grit on it (careful not to use it everywhere and keep that thing moving...)

Removing Thick Adhesive from Wood Floors

We have been moving vinyl tiles from our kitchen wood floors. We are now left with thick tar like adhesive that we need to get up. We've tried sanding but the sander clogs.

I had the same problem. Bought a long floor scraper and had the best workout of my life. Never again. Heatgun was minimally effective. (Vapors too). Afterwards a floor guy told me they have a machine that scrapes the glue off and leaves the plywood in decent shape. I would have paid anything so check into it...

Removing Tar Paper from Hardwood

Just bought a house. Removing kitchen floor. When it came up there was a lot of tar paper over the original unfinished wood floor. I've spent two evening scraping it up wit hand tools.  Spoke with floor guy who will refinish floor as long as I can get p the tar paper before he starts sanding.    How can I get this off the floor?

As long as your going to refinish them, try using mineral spirits and a stiff brush, probably a little scraping too.

In my 100 year old house, I encountered exactly the same problem as you. After speaking with several floor refinishers, they too wouldn't touch it. This added to my determination and I decided to try Peel-A-Way paint remover. After leaving it on for 24 hours, it removed the extremely thick layer of tar paper right down to the bare wood floor. Nobody could believe the results I got. Be aware of the fact that you are possibly dealing with asbestos so scraping and sanding is out of the question, making this the safest, quickest, and most-effective option available.

Wood Floors - to Redo or Not to Redo???

I'm thinking about ripping up the carpet and redoing the wood floors if necessary. How much work is involved and by doing it myself, is it worth the money saved. What am I getting myself into???

I am a firm believer in doing it yourself. You can certainly save yourself some money. If you are leery, have someone that could do the work give you a free estimate. Then you have a basis for deciding to go ahead and try it yourself.

Taking up the carpet isn't too difficult a project, but consider how you will get rid of the carpet. If you cut it up, or just roll it all up, it will be heavy and a lot of it. Can you take it to the dump? Do you have a pick up truck or access to one?

As to refinishing the floors, you can rent a drum sander that can make short work of sanding the floor if it needs it. (But take heed of the advice to always keep it moving when it is on). Applying a new finish of polyurethane is relatively simple too. If you have ever done a table or piece of furniture, you can do the floor.

Options on Redoing Wood Floors

We already have an old stained wood floor that we want to redo. We have been told by one contractor to lay new flooring in the opposite direction and another contractor to rip up the old flooring, lay new plywood and then put the new floor on top. Who do you believe on which is the right way? Of course there is a big difference in price between the two.

Which ones came and looked at your floor? Here are some things to consider.. since either answer could be right.

What is the condition of the present floor structurally? is the floor sound? Does it sag and creak when you walk on it? If so, covering it won't completely fix those problems though it might help. Also.. if you cover the floor, it will raise the total height 3/4 inch.. this may impact doors, radiators, cabinets...etc. and of course the transition to the next room.

Cleanest approach of course is to rip up and lay anew. (most expensive of course also) You will avoid those other problems...

BUT.. if the doors can have 3/4 inch cut off the bottoms and there are no other obstacles to laying right on top and the floor now is basically sound, then you can lay right on top without any trouble.

Hardwood Floor over Vinyl?

I want to put hardwood floor in kitchen, do I have to rip up vinyl floor or can I just put wood right over it, this is a fairly new townhouse.

There is no need to remove the vinyl flooring if it is in good condition in fact it provides a great vapor barrier

Waxing Wood Floors That Were Carpeted

My wife's parents are selling their home of 35 years. When they purchased their then-new house, they put wall-to-wall carpet over the hardwood flooring. Preparing to list the house, my two brothers-in-law and I are about to rip out the carpet and polish the floor.

I expect that the padding will have marked the existing finish; are Murphy's, a buffer, and a pad likely to clear it up? Would a fine steel wool or synthetic pad do better? Is there any EASY way to clean and re-wax a hardwood floor that has been under wall-to-wall carpet for 35 years?

I have heard horror stories of using Murphy's oil soap on floor finishes; is the problem limited to water-based finishes? When did water-based floor finishes come out (my impression is only within the last 5 years)? Am I safe in assuming that a 35 year old finish is one that Murphy's won't damage?

One thing for sure, it won't have been a water based finish on that floor, so Murphy's soap won't harm it.

I think the floor will probably be in good shape. The finish may only be dull from the pad and carpet. Cleaned with Murphy's, buffed with wax will probably do the trick.

Removing Wax from Wood Floors

I need a solution to get old wax off of wood floors.I don't want to keep changing sandpaper on the orbital sander, it gets expensive.Would appreciate any suggestions.

Are you sure it's wax? If it is it will dissolve with mineral spirits. Try that or lacquer thinner on a small area first. My guess is that it is a urethane probably oil based which will need to be sanded off.

Dents in Pine Flooring

I have some dents in my pine flooring where chairs legs have made the dents. I have been told there is a way to "draw" the wood back up. Someone suggested using a steam iron and damp cloth over the dent. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Well the damp cloth and iron trick does work when the wood fibers are salvageable. Basically you get them damp and then heat them to swell them to sort of original shape. My guess is it won't work for the chair legs dents. Give it a whirl though, because nothing else will work better.

If you must remove them, the only other way would be to sand down the surrounding wood....

Sagging Hardwood Floors

I have a 100 yr old home and most all of the floors in the house are all sagging to the center of the room. Is there anything that can be done to correct this? I understand that I could use floor jacks in the basement for the first floor, but what about the second floor?

Ok, get ready for a lot of work!! First you will need to jack up the first floor. Do this with screw jacks in the basement to lift the floor joists. When you get that done, leave the jacks there if they are not in your way or place posts where the jacks were. Move up to the first floor and remove the ceiling under the sagging second floor. When you have the ceiling removed you will see the second floor, floor joist. Raise these with screw jacks also. Then add new joists to the currents ones. Remember to use joist hangers. The sagging occurred because of inferior sized joist, so you will need to help them out. With a house that old you will probably run into rough, true sawn joist, so try not to remove any of them, because you will have a hard time getting true sawn lumber.

If the floors of the house seem to all sag toward the middle of the house you will need to raise the load bearing wall in the center of the house. Do this with screw jacks but be careful. Only about 1/4 turn per week until everything is level. If you go too fast you will crack plaster and risk popping studs, joist, and rafters. Good luck.

Pergo vs. Wood Flooring

What is the general consensus Pergo or wood. We are going to rip up our carpeting and can't decide whether to go natural wood floors or Pergo.

We opted for Pergo and will never do it again. If you live in a humid area of the country (which we do), the Pergo tends to come up at the edges. This happened to us after one year and the installer had to rip up the entire floor and lay an entire new one. It was a terrible inconvenience.


Pergo is basically Formica which is made to look like real wood and does(kind of) but you will notice the repeating pattern of the fake wood grain in the floor this product is usually applied over a pad & glued together I recommend real wood in most cases, it can be recoated & refinished


This has been discussed I think to the max almost everywhere on the internet. MY OPINION....if this is a long term home I would go REAL WOOD only because you have a lot more option in the future. Also there is NOTHING like real wood for warmth and character. Yes Pergo is nice but I can tell you that I do not like mine because I have dogs...they leave their nose and paw prints all over the floor and it shows since the dogs sweat in these areas it leaves noticeable smudges on my floors. They are NOT Pergo but they are laminate.


I've installed Pergo as well as other brands of hard surface flooring. It is a nice product and the people seem very pleased with it. However, I would not use it in an area where wetness is a problem. Leave a piece out in the rain and you'll see what I mean. Also, it is not as easy to install as the salesperson or video would lead you to believe. But with the right tools, power miter saw, coping saw, and the optional installation kit an experienced do it yourselfer should only have minimal problems.

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