Reclaiming and restoring 110 year old hemlock fir floors


Old 01-06-12, 10:53 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 9
Reclaiming and restoring 110 year old hemlock fir floors

Ok so here's the scoop.

The main floor of this house was built in 1902 and was the first school in this area of Alberta. It was moved into it's current location and converted into a home in 1950.

The floors which the hardware store identified as hemlock fir were covered with a subfloor then and haven't seen the light of day since.

There is no finish on them, nothing to strip.

I plan to sand them down even (the kids wore down some area's but no worries, these planks are thick) keep the dust and mix with a lacquer sealer and trowel over to fill nails holes/imperfections and then sand again and then a couple coats of varathane to protect them and make them shine.

I read somewhere that I should never use a lacquer sealer on hemlock fir...does anyone know why? or have I just read some typical 'internet info'?

Also any advice would be greatly appreciated, such as stain suggestions. Maybe no stain at all? A piece I sanded has a nice rose/pink look to it and keeping in mind the history, some area's have green spill stains which my parents told me years ago were from the kids spilling their ink wells on the floor....might be nice to keep that.

Again any advice would be appreciated and thanks!
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Old 01-14-12, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: usa
Posts: 6
Hi, I just recently re-finished my 100 year old floor as well, that was also covered up by carpet and subfloor. I believe mine is Douglas Fir though, but here is what I did: Last year I sanded, then stained the floor, and sometimes this was tricky because the wood was so dry and worn in places it wanted to catch the sandpaper and the staining rag. After this I applied 3 coats of Varethane Semi Gloss Water Based Polyurethane. Did not look thick enough so I applied 3(!) more coats. Looked okay then, but a few months later it was wearing down again. Stuff is junk, and I would not recommend it. So a couple weeks ago I researched more and came up with Street Shoe 275 waterbased poly. It is kinda pricey but I went for it. Cleaned the floor and gave it a light sand, then threw down two coats of the Streetshoe. Looks awesome. I am certain the previous coats of the old polyurethane helped seal up the wood, and the Streetshoe, which you mix with a catalyst to harden it, layed right on top and looks thick and durable. I don't know if you have the dry, worn out wood like I did, but it sure makes it hard to seal it up right.
Old 01-14-12, 02:34 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
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I'm not sure I'd stain the hemlock. Being that old it might be difficult to get an even looking stain job plus the stains the flooring has seen over the yrs would give it character........ of course not everyone likes character

I've never heard of lacquer and hemlock not getting along although I've not used a lot of lacquer. IMO oil base poly would give you a better wearing finish. Oil base poly/varnish will darken/deepen the colors that are naturally in the wood. Waterbase poly doesn't change the look much other than provide a sheen. If you intend to use waterbase, the professional grades are a LOT tougher than what you'll find at a big box store. I don't remember the brand but I used a 2 part waterbased poly about 17-18 yrs ago and carried a some leftover mixed poly home and applied it to a door in my shop - that door still looks great!

I don't know how well mixing sawdust with lacquer will work. Mixing it with wood glue does work although you can buy a premixed pasted that is for oak flooring that would be a lot easier - it should blend ok. My biggest concern would be how big are the gaps? and will the filler stay put?
Old 01-20-12, 01:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: usa
Posts: 6
this is how my newest floor came out with streetshoe. very happy

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