Hardwood floor restoration preps

Let’s complete the transition from the bathroom topic to hardwood floors.

We have the original 100+ year old hardwood floors through most of the building. They are largely in surprisingly good shape, because they have been protected for decades by layers of tile and carpet.

Although, if you did take a look at them after we had removed the various layers, it would have taken some imagination to see the asset they were to us.



We found a number of clues that indicated their suitability for reuse. And reuse at this scale (about 1,200 square feet of flooring) can make a significant difference. Not only in economic terms (just imagine the cost of installing new hardwood floors versus restoring and refinishing), but also in terms of resource efficiency.

What do I mean by that? Three options are often thrown around: 1) recycling, 2) salvaging and 3) reuse. Out of these three, recycling (or better downcycling) is the least desirable option as it is the one closest to the landfill. Reuse, on the other hand, is highly desirable because it conserves the value and embedded energy of a product or material.

The more of the building we can reuse, the fewer the resources we need to pour into the building, the smaller the overall carbon footprint, the greener the overall project.

Such an easy way to earn some bragging rights!

Now that we are so close to restoring and refinishing the floors, I tried to determine what preparations were needed. We cleaned most of the floors from the mastic and glue that was used as a tile adhesive. The oak floor in the living room had been painted dark red at one point. We decided that we needed to remove the paint prior to any sanding.

As usual, when it comes to removing paint from wood, Cathy’s Silent Paint Remover became very handy again.

After about 12 hours of work (stretched over three days) the paint was gone, and with it an endless number of small staples that were used to attach the carpet backing.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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