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mudpaw 06-27-2008 11:52 AM

50 year old hardwood floor-untreated?
Hi everybody,
I moved into a 1950's ranch a little over a year ago and have been trying to decide what to do about the floors. There is red oak hardwood floor throughout (except the kitchen and den) that has been carpeted over for probably at least 45 years. Now the floor in 85% of the house is beautiful and blemish free (probably because it's been covered since virtually day one- except- a pipe burst while the house was sitting empty and it stayed wet for at least a week resulting in some warped boards outside the master bath (an area maybe 3' x 3' ) and the hall has a lovely thick powdery black dust that was left behind under the carpet padding-I fear it was mold that dried out after the leak was fixed, but the carpet remained and sealed in some moisture and now it coats the entire hallway floor). I can't tell if any of the floor has any kind of finish. It has no shine and has no slick feel like newer polyurethaned/urethaned floors. I suspect there is some sort of either wax or oil since the color looks "deep" and the floor doesn't look dried out at all after 50 years. Is it possible it has been sealed with something, but just in a matte finish ? Or is it possible I have completely untreated floor lurking under my carpet?

Termite 06-27-2008 01:14 PM

I would imagine that some sort of penetrating oil was used after the floor was installed. No way to know for sure based on your description though.

mudpaw 06-27-2008 01:26 PM

I keep seeing people talking about dropping a little water on the floor and watching to see if it's absorbed or not as a way to test the finish. Does this actually work ? I tried it and the water just sat on absorption in 5-10 minutes. Does that mean there's a finish of some sort?

MacRoadie 06-27-2008 01:45 PM

Here in So Cal, thousands of ranch-style homes were built in the 50's and 60's, all with oak flooring under linoleum or carpet. I've seen them with the 50 year old remains of a light varnish, seen some that look like a penetrating oil was used (or maybe just spilled coke...), and just as many that appear to be completely unfinished.

When we refinish one, we simply pull the tack strips up, pull all the underlayment staples, and run a drum sander over the whole shooting match to take about a 16th off the surface. It's amazing what comes up in those floors, especially after half a century of neglect, carpet spills, toilet leaks, you name it.

mudpaw 06-27-2008 02:14 PM

The bit of wood floor that is visible where we pulled back the carpet is beautiful <3 It looks like brand new, amazingly. It's also really really smooth, would I still need to sand and re-seal if it was sealed with penetrating oil when it was installed then immediately covered with carpet, hence being protected since then? I'm just wondering since my father is law is pushing that we install new carpet rather than refinish the wood floors since it's cheaper. I worry though, I'm 5 months pregnant and the fumes involved with carpet seem like a bad idea, yet wood refinishing dust and fumes from the sealant worry me too (though a few areas I know will have to be refinished due to water damage and some black staining of some sort). I also worry about the extra damage the wood beneath will likely incur during the old carpet being pulled up and new reinstalled, since I've seen to many companies treat all floors underneath the carpet as if they were just plywood sub-floors :(

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