Floor restoration – closing thoughts

Cathy put a lot of work into removing the paint from the living room floor. I now feel bad about all the effort that went into it.

During the floor sanding it became obvious that the paint removal wasn’t really necessary. The sander would have taken care of that in a heartbeat. The seemingly endless amount of small staples Cathy removed were, however, worth the effort. That is the kind of stuff you don’t want near a floor sander.

I also mentioned a number of water stains we had to contend with. The biggest one is in front of the kitchen back door.

If this one begins to bother us, we will have to hide it under a throw rug. That said, we like little imperfections like this. They are part of the house’s story.

Other, more minor damage to the hardwood floors was typically associated with the old cast iron radiators. Rather crude holes were punched into the floorboards for the radiator piping. I was able to fix most of those with a clean hole saw cut. The openings were easy to fill with wood plugs that I cut from salvaged boards.

Because of the radiator weight, the legs wore dents into the flooring, which partially came out during the sanding. Some remained and also become part of the house’s story.

Another issue, also associated with the radiators, was minor water damage due to leaking radiators or piping. Most of it came out during the sanding, but some stains still show.

The radiator in the dining room must have been the worst. Here the damage was so bad that we were unable to salvage or repair at the small scale. I had to replace the damaged hardwood floor boards with new material.


The contrast between the new and the 100+ year old quarter sawn boards tell a story about material quality.

I have seen similar repairs and patches in other beautiful old houses. They appear not that uncommon and provide sort of a chronology of the repairs, alterations and remodeling efforts.

Overall we are very happy that we were able to reuse the original 100+ year old hardwood floors. Considering their age, what they have been through, and that reusing is always “greener”  than starting new, we feel that we are pretty good shape on the 1st floor.


I am, however, not so sure about some areas on the 2nd floor any more. I think we will have to brace for more extensive repair there.

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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