How to Restore Hardwood Floors in Your Historic Home

11/8/17 12:55 PM Christina Wilson

Old houses are known for their many hand-crafted features, like hardwood floors, which give unique character to these buildings. These old floors, laid with the craft and materials of a previous time, have most likely seen lots of use. Restoring the worn, scratched and stained old floors is a favorite winter project. 

If you are planning to restore your hardwood floors, it's always good to remember that a floor is the base of a room, chosen with practicality in mind. Hardwood floors can be cleaned and renewed by refinishing or recoating, or they can be replaced. The desire to maintain the period authenticity of a home often persuades owners to restore rather than replace the floors. Here are some things to consider about restoration:

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Hardwood floor refinishing is a common choice for owners of historic homes who want to preserve the unique character of the antique flooring. The process is meticulous, requires lots of equipment, and the speed at which the floor can be refinished depends on the rate at which the refinishing products dry. That beautiful gleaming finish seals and protects the wood’s open pores from liquid and dirt, reducing the likelihood of dents and scratches.

Recoating is another solution when complete floor refinishing isn’t needed, but something should be done to protect the wood. A fresh coat of finish is applied on top of the existing finish and will improve the appearance of the floor. Recoating is easier and faster than refinishing, but is not the best solution for severely damaged wood. 

Resource: 7 Steps to Like-New Floors

Antique Floors in Old Houses 

Choosing the appropriate finish is critical. For floors that see heavy use, finding a finish that is durable enough to protect the floors, that can be repaired, AND that has the right look for the period can be a challenge. Finishes are available in oil and water-based options, and can be divided into two general types: those that sit on the wood’s surface and those that penetrate the wood.

Resource: Finishing Basics

If you're dealing with an antique floor in a historic house, it's highly recommended that you hire a custom woodworking expert to make sure you get the final product you want. If the floors are in bad condition, you may have to enlist the additional specialized skills of historic restoration contractors who can salvage old wood despite its condition.


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 Renaissance Development, is a leader in historic renovation in the DC area. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm and value. If your renovation project includes brick repair, contact us for a free site visit and project quote.

Categories: Repair, renovation


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