Hot Topics: Resurfacing an Old Wood Floor

A sander on a wood floor.

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Original Post - Resurfacing Old Wood Floor

rjones26 Member

I’m looking for information on how to proceed with resurfacing the floor in the pictures I have attached. I know I have to rent a drum sander and edge sander. Apart from pulling all the flooring up, how can I fix the issues seen in the pictures? We purchased the house 10 years ago and I suspect the previous owner installed the floor himself. Over the years, I think planks have shrunk and I know the middle of the knots have popped out. We are thinking of going to a darker stain before applying the finish coat. Would I be able to get away with a stainable wood filler of some sort to fill the gaps? Your suggestions will be appreciated.

A wood floor with a tape measure on it.

Pilot Dane Group Moderator

First, come to love the word "patina."

With popped knots, if there is no subfloor, I go below and attach a scrap of wood to the bottom to block off the hole. Leaving the hole open to collect dirt is the easiest. You can also drill out the popped knot to make a nice round hole. Then, soak a wood plug in glue and hammer it in the hole. Sand flush and finish. I've not had great luck with putty-type fillers for popped knots. If you go high tech with epoxy, it can hold but then it won't take stain so it's a color matching problem.

PJmax Group Moderator

When you use a darker stain, the gaps are not as noticeable.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I agree that the less filler you use, the better. What species of wood is it?

It's easy to get in trouble using a drum sander! It doesn't take much to sand off too much in spots and get a wavy floor. While a good bit slower, a buffer/orbiter-type floor sander is more DIY-friendly.

rjones26 Member

I am no expert in types of wood, but I have attached a picture of a spare piece I found from when the previous owner installed it. I am looking to buy some more so I can remove pieces where knot holes have popped and refinish it all. The biggest question is staining, as I’m not sure because of the type of wood if stain would take or if I should just add polyurethane and go natural (wife would like a darker color). I will be renting a square sander starting with 32-grit and going up. (Reasons being ease and I’ve seen too many screw-ups with drum sanders.) I did try the fingernail test on a back of a spare piece and it left no impression, so I hope that means it’s a hardwood variety.

A piece of wood used in flooring.

A DIYer holding a piece of wood used for flooring.

A piece of wood flooring with grooves.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

It may be Douglas fir or birch? Probably the simplest thing to do would be to take your spare piece to your local hardwood distributor.

Tolyn Ironhand Group Moderator

I would guess birch or maple.

rjones26 Member

I took it to the big three box stores and showed them the sample. They all said birch, but also all said I need the name of the manufacturer as they all mill differently. My plan is to cut the sample and make sawdust, and then make a wood paste and fill and sand the knot holes. Has anyone else ever done this and how did it look? We will be staining a darker color and then using satin poly on top.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

The middle pic in post five looks like it might be prefinished flooring. If so, I wouldn't recommend filling in the beveled part because that’s too much filler both for looks and wear.

rjoness26 member

I decided against filling the joints and am just doing the knots.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I'm only familiar with the oak paste, but suspect it would also work with your floor. I've even used joint compound in a pinch. Since that isn't a type of flooring used around here, I'd suggest going to your local hardwood distributor and asking them what most folks use.

rjones26 member

I‘ve stripped the floor with a drum and flat orbital sander and just today rented an edge sander. I have a belt sander, orbital palm sander, and a sheet sander, but I’m not sure which would be best and what grit to use.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Not sure I understand; the drum sander should have flattened the flooring. The edger is used next to the wall and other places the drum sander won't fit.

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