help on refinishing oak floors


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Old 05-10-03, 01:50 PM
mhammer
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help on refinishing oak floors

I need some serious direction in refinishing my old oak floors. When we pulled up the old carpet we found hundreds and hundreds of nails in the old floor (about 1/4" head on the nails). We proceeded to drill out all the old nails and have finished that job. Now comes the refinishing part. Because we have hundreds of nail holes in the floor, we are concerned that even after sanding and filling that the filled holes will be noticable because they may not pick up the stain the same as the actual wood and in addition every wood slat has a nail hole in it and the rows of nails were spaced about 8" apart. Is there a filler that we can use that may be really good at picking up stain so that the holes will be less noticable? I saw a gel-based stain that you actually use with the sawdust from sanding and it claims to have exact match. Does anyone know if this product works well or have any other suggestions? I thought maybe if I used a white-wash stain on the floors that might help minimize the appearance of the rows of filled holes. Also, as far as sanding - what is recommended as far as grit size, initially and final? And is a drum sander the best? And is a polyeurathane finish better - or should I use a wax for wood floors? Sorry for the long message, but we have spent so much time drilling out nails and I want it to be worth it when we are finished!
 
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Old 05-11-03, 10:43 AM
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mhammer,

WOW! What a job. And some dummy before you face nailed a beautiful oak floor.
I'll try and give you some advice, or at least suggest what I might do. First, if you removed all the nails, what is now holding the slats down? Also, does it appear to be standard 3/4 tongue and groove oak planks?

Okay, if you removed all the nails, nothing may be securing your planks it to the subfloor. As you suspect, filling the holes and staining is going to be a problem. Fillers shrink and will not stain true. The sawdust method does sometimes work. If you like you can test it.

Here is what I might do: drill a 1/4 or 5/8 hole for every nail hole about 1/2 inch deep. Screw the floor down with 2 1/4 to 3 inch deck screws. Plug each hole with an oak dowel glued in, cut-off, and sand smooth. This would be end grain and stain darker. The other option is cut your own plugs (non-end grain) with a drill press and plug cutter. This method will give the closest stain match.

Sanding is usually 100 to 150 grit if the floor is otherwise in good condition. A rented drum floor sander is an option but tricky to use. A polyurethane finish is the standard. Waxes are not much protection for a floor.

I hope some of this helped - come back for any other questions.

fred
 
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Old 05-11-03, 01:05 PM
mhammer
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Hi Fred,
Thank you very much for the advice. I think whoever nailed the floor must have done so because it was squeaking and thought that they would always have carpet or something - but my thoughts were also "what a dummy" (to put it mildly)! When we drilled the nails out - we left the shank of the nail in - we just popped the heads off, so the floor is secure. There are indentations in the wood where the nail heads were, which makes the holes even more noticable. I'm hoping that when we sand the indentations from the nail heads will sand out and we will just be left with holes from the actual shaft of the nail. After drilling out all those nails even thinking about cutting 100's of plugs (or even putting in hundreds) is not something I want to do, though if I had more time and patience I'm sure that would be the best option. Could you recommend a filler that is likely to work best in this situation? Like I said, I read about a gel-based filler that you mix with the sawdust from your floor somehow. We may just sand the floor and leave it unstained - would that work better than trying to stain the floor? In other words, are the holes less likely to be noticable on an unstained vs. a stained floor? The problem is there is so much color variation from slat to slat and that is what is going to create the problem. Are there better options for sanding than a drum sander? And given that we need to sand out the indentations from the nail heads - will 100-150 grit work, or should we try something coarser at first? And also, is there a line of flooring products that you would recommend? Thanks so much for your help. I'm not expecting perfection on this floor, but I'm hoping to make it as nice as possible.
 
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Old 05-11-03, 07:21 PM
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Mhammer,
With all the nail head indentations 80 grit will be your starting paper. The drum sander will be your best option and quickest to do the job. Ask at the rental place, as they will also have a heavy duty random orbit sander for the edges of the room.

"gel-based filler that you mix with the sawdust" is worth a test.
Also get some Famowood filler and give it a test too. Then choose which way you want to complete the job.
As far as the stain - you will have to be the one to decide whether to stain or not. Again, testing never hurt. I would think that a medium stain would even out your wood color variations and hide some of the holes.
I'm a fan of Minwax polyurethane finishes. They come in gloss, semi-, and satin. Two or three coats.
I hope this helps,
fred
 
 

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