you have beautiful softwood floors, why would you want to cover
them or add anything? Unfortunately, the answer often lies in the
condition of the floorboards themselves. There may be gaps between
the boards which trap dirt and can let in drafts. The boards may
be split, warped, or rotten, or have deep nail holes in them. Sometimes
the supporting joists may have weakened, or they may be suffering
from woodworm or dry rot.
the case of woodworm and/or dry rot, remedial work including chemical
spraying and replacement of damaged wood is essential, whatever
type of flooring you are installing. If you want floorboards as
your floor covering, all of the existing boards that are rotted
or worm-eaten must be replaced.
there are ways to cure most other floorboard defects.
Small individual gaps between floorboards need to be filled with
wood filler, stained papier mache, or slivers of wood, glued in
place and planed down to the level of the surrounding boards.
gaps or gaps between all the boards are more difficult. Often it's
best to lift the whole floor and re-lay it. A floorboard clamp or
wooden wedges force the boards together until they are nailed in
place. This leaves a big gap at the end which must be filled with
an extra floorboard.
boards: In time, floorboards can cup - curl up along the long
edges. An industrial floor sander is ideal for getting rid of this.
Working diagonally across the floor with coarse abrasive paper quickly
removes the raised edges.
boards: Individual boards can be replaced, the only problem
being that modern boards may be slightly different in size from
older boards, which may mean some adjustment or cutting away of
the board and/or joist.
boards: Where the nails holding a board have become loose, the
answer is to replace them with screws, which secure the board and
stop it squeaking. Protruding nail heads should be hammered down
with a nail punch, and nail and screw holes must be filled, before
boards: Where floorboards have several years worth of paint,
grime, or wax on them, it's best to clean them before stripping
them. Steel wool and mineral spirits remove a build-up of wax polish
and grime. An industrial floor sander, fitted with a medium abrasive
paper followed by a fine paper and worked along the length of the
boards, smoothes off the surface. Finishing around the edges requires
a handheld sander.
varnish: With the gaps filled, the floor repaired and its surface
sanded, the wooden boards need at least three coats of polyurethane
floor sealer. Water-based types have less odor and are quicker drying
than solvent-based ones.
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