My hardwood floors need stripping? Strip or sand?


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Old 03-06-07, 12:38 PM
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My hardwood floors need stripping? Strip or sand?

I have a 1947 cape with hardwood floors, all are fine except my bedroom. Asides from the grime and filth on the floor, it appears that the finish on the top it coming off. You know that dark look the wood attains with time, I can scrape it off !
As I do scrape it off, the floors appear brand new with a shine to them. I am wondering if a shellac was applied years later in this room over a waxed floor.
I have used shellac remover in places, it removes the finish but leaves a sticky mess behind. I have used Greased Lightning to clean the floor and if I leave it on the floor surface for awhile, it too removes the finish leaving a brand new looking floor.
Here's the dilemna, I don't know what the finish is, I am not about to scrape it all off, I am not sure if the shellac remover is going to remove ALL the finish on the floors as well as the Greased Lightning and I would rather not sand and refinish the floor. As for sanding, I really like the look of an old floor in an old home, and the other floors would not match.
So, I know this is a good one, I don't see a way to attach photo's, I do have 2-3 of them, I may find a way to attach them to my profile or somewhere here, so if anyone wants to help, chime in. Please, guessing is great, but I would prefer someone who has been down this road before to fill me in or a floor guy preferably.
Looking forward to some good inputs, let me have it guys and gals.

DanO
 
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Old 03-06-07, 03:55 PM
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Hard to tell what has been done since '47. If you found something that gets the top layer off without ruining the original finish, use it. Sanding can be a long process for the DIY, and if you never used a drum sander, don't learn on YOUR floor. To better protect the original finish, sand lightly, CLEAN THOROUGHLY with paint thinner and then alcohol. Apply 1-2 coats of oil poly designed for floors, not a furniture finish.
 
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Old 03-06-07, 06:47 PM
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Bill, you are right, no telling what was put on this floor over the years. I have sanded a floor before, I used a drum sander, my back has not been the same since, vibrations. I was going to use a large disc type from the local rental place as a last resort. In the meantime, I may borrow a floor waxing, removal machine, a large disc type machine with a large Scotchbrite pad affixed to the disc. I intend on experimenting more on the floor, see what strips and what doesn't.
I just want to assure all, I am not afraid of hard work and I am not trying to be cheap. I want to keep some of the integrity of this old home, it's old floors. I am tired though of when I move a piece of furniture, I end up with a pile of dust from the finish coming off from contact. I am sure everyone knows that with all the tools and products, the finish will not come off as easy as it does when I move my dresser.

DanO
 
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Old 03-07-07, 04:03 AM
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If the floor is that old, it is likely there is some cupping, which will make using the floor machine a bad idea. You will end up will light spots where the finish was removed and the low spots will remain darker. There are multi-disc floor sanders now available for rental that are much more novice friendly, consider one of those if you decide to sand.
Your initial plan with the remover is slow, but seems to be yeilding results.
 
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Old 03-07-07, 03:47 PM
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Cool

Bill,
I gave up on the idea of the floor machine, time to go rent a sander, sand the floor and enjoy the niceness of the new floor look. I have heard there are ways to give the wood that old look appearance, I doubt I will venture down that road though. Thanks for the input.

DanO
 
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Old 03-08-07, 04:18 AM
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Go to www.nofma.org and click Publications to download for free the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers technical manual on finishing wood floors.
 
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Old 03-08-07, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Just Bill
......CLEAN THOROUGHLY with paint thinner and then alcohol......
i thought it was MINERAL SPIRITS one was supposed to use in a case like this....no?

i have the same problem with a "mystery floor" with whoknowswhatall combination of poly's and waxes that have been put on it over the years!
 
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Old 03-11-07, 03:55 PM
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Floors can be really difficult to bring back to life, but not impossible.

DanO, If you're into so hard work, the floors can give you the be of both worlds. It can still have the patina of old floors but have the protection of modern finishes.
The process I'm speaking of begins with stripping the old finish off the floor. (Yeh...It's a mess!!) Using a semi-paste paint and varnish remover, fill a five gallon bucket (like an old drywall mud bucket) about half way. Using a cotton mop, draw out the remover and mop over an area about 5' x 5'. Allow this to sit for about five minutes and apply another thin coat of remover right over the first coat. After another 5 minutes, check with a putty knife to make sure the finish has dissolved to the wood. If it hasn't and the area is starting to dry, add another coat of remover.

When the finish has liquified to the wood, using another cotton mop, swab the area down with a mixture of warm water and TSP. TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) is a heavy duty cleaner found mostly at paint supply stores. Mix this with the water 1 cup to 2 gallons of warm (NOT HOT) water. Rinse out your mop and mop up all of the residue of the remover. Rinse this off in a container of cold water. Proceeding with this technique will leave a finish free floor that will need light sanding and cleaning before applying some good poly finish.

Let me mention a few safety factors!! Do this only when you can have the doors and windows open for good ventilation. Wear long pants and long sleeves to protect yourself from splatters of remover. Wear glasses and gloves to protect you eyes and hands. It may be warm but don't turn a fan on to cool yourself. This will cause the remover to dry too fast.

Well, like I said, it's a lot of work. Read all instructions and protect yourself.

Good Luck,
Harold
 
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Old 03-11-07, 06:12 PM
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Clockdaddy, thanks for the advice. I have used the stripper before, on my cars and old doors. I really didn't want to do that method, but I really do not want to sand it either. It's not the work I am afraid of, it's a nice floor in one room and a new looking floor in another.
I think I will try a small area, I do plan on sanding the floor in a week, so if I like to impact the stripper has I may go that route.
Thanks again.

DanO
 
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Old 03-19-07, 08:33 AM
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Smile

Clockdaddy and JustBill,
I have finished stripping the floor!!!
I will let all those know the method I used so if they want to try it, it was an effective method.
1st I used the semi-paste paint stripper, I assume varnish stripper will work as well. I brushed it on with a sponge mop. I poured some on the floor, brushed out covering a 3 foot square area. After 5 minutes or so, I laid more down and followed the same procedure. After 5 more minutes I scraped the finish off. Yes, I said scraped it off, it worked well.
2nd, I went to an new area, as this area was setting up, I returned to the first area with a mixture of TSP and water in a bucket and a Scotchbrite pad. I scrubbed this area completely then washed it with clean water. The TSP removed most residue from the floor.
I repeated this process and the floor looked very nice. Of course there were some areas that were tougher than others and required some extra effort and a 3rd or 4th attempt but went well. The whole process for my 14' x 14' room took about 6 hours.
Of course, long pants and long sleeve shirt is a must and I used latex gloves, but I could feel the chemical reaction of the stripper through the gloves so I recommend using the gloves for chemicals.
After the floor was dried, I rented a random orbital sander to finish the job, I just completed the sanding, 1 hour of sanding, that's it!!!! Not much of a mess, no gummy residue clogging up the sander and no marks from the drum sander that I didn't rent.
Now I am onto the finish, I can't decide if satin or gloss is what I want, but I will decide that later.
I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about refinishing the hardwood floor in a room.
This may not be the way to go for some, I was trying to eliminate dust and the pain of the drum sander, so it went well for me.

DanO
 
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Old 03-19-07, 11:33 AM
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Fantastic DanO!!
It's quite amazing what elbow grease and a simple process can get done. You obviously are a persistant individual and beleive me, when your floor is finished you should brag about "your" work!!

You got her done!!

CD
 
 

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