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mnp13 03-12-2012 06:24 AM

refinishing reclaimed maple flooring
I might have the opportunity to purchase maple flooring that used to be employed as a gym floor. Our home has its original 140 year old pine floor (6 inch plank, no sub floor) and it's in really rough shape upstairs and down. I'm sad to loose the look of the wide plank, but I'd like floors that don't look like they were gone over with a cheese grater! My dream was to find more wide plank to put down over them, but nothing has panned out so far.

I haven't gone to see the floor yet, but it was cut out in 4x8 sheets, and is attached to some sort of sub floor (and if I can't get the boards off of that sub floor somewhat easily, it's a deal breaker.) My question is this - what are gym floors finished with? Will this likely just be a case of sanding off the old finish and putting down a new one, or will I have to do something weird with it?

Of course, I could just lay the 4x8 sheets and have a basketball court... :laughing:

One of the homes I looked at years ago had the most beautiful floors I have ever seen... concentric squares, parquet, herringbone... (I fell in love with that house, but the house next door was built three feet away, and there was a driveway easement through the middle of the back yard. Made me want to cry.) But anyway, with a few miles of floor to play with, I could probably figure out how to do a pattern or two!

I'm guessing that the order of operations would be to separate all the boards, put them down as is with gym-floor-finish intact, then sand/refinish when I'm all done? Well, more likely, have someone else sand/refinish because I think I'm afraid of that job!

And now that I'm typing all of this out, I just realized we have hot water baseboard heat. Raising the floor an inch is going to be a nightmare isn't it? :censored:



johnnyboy 03-12-2012 07:38 AM

eeek sounds like a LOT of work. Time is money, personally I'd just settle for some prefinished and new.

mnp13 03-12-2012 08:17 AM

I agree about the "lot of work" but I'm used to that - champagne taste, beer budget. :laughing:

And I have yet to see a pre-finished floor install that I like. I don't like the idea of not having the floor finished in place, so there is nothing sealing between the boards. With three dogs and two cats, messes are a part of life, having one smooth surface with a continuous finish over it all does make a difference.

I also have no idea where I could get new solid maple floors (pre-finished or otherwise) for $1 a square foot, though I'm all ears if you have an answer to that one!

mnp13 03-12-2012 07:01 PM

So, I spoke to the woman who has the floor. It seems that what looks like a sub floor is not. It's just strips of wood nailed to the bottom of the floor every few feet to keep the boards together. They have about 750 square feet, and I'm going to go see it on Thursday to make a decision.

Is it true that they use epoxy for a finish for gym floors? Will that be an issue to sand off?

mnp13 03-13-2012 09:46 PM

Ok, I visited the floor, and purchased it! Woo Hoo!

And for less than .50 a square foot!! DOUBLE woo hoo!

Brought a piece home and wow, this is going to be a project... No shock there, but I'm not sure how I'm going to get all of the nails out. Is there a trick I don't know about? Please say yes. I spent 10 minutes on one nail, and there will be hundreds and hundreds of them.

The sides of the boards are a mess where the varnish went down between the boards, and I'm going to have to get that off as well. I'd run them through my shaper, but that will necessitate getting every nail out and not just clipping them from the bottom.

but it's pretty pretty pretty! Even with the gym lines. :laughing:

Marqed97 03-13-2012 10:04 PM

I'd love to see a picture of the flooring you brought home... Sounds pretty cool

mnp13 03-13-2012 11:13 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Ask and you shall receive!!!

And in the background of some of them you can see my completely destroyed pine floors, dog nails have really killed it.

mnp13 03-14-2012 01:02 AM


Originally Posted by Justin James
Your pine floor is completely destroyed. Replace it.

We're covering it with the maple.

Lyzic 03-14-2012 01:41 AM

It will depend on how much it is nailed, since you have a lot of flooring, it might be easier to cut out the nails, so if they are on the ends of a 4' piece, then cut the ends off and have a 3.5' piece. Otherwise a lot of work is ahead of you.

If it's solid maple, you might try a drum sander to take the finish off...that way you could set it to take just the finish off and it all would be uniform.

mnp13 03-14-2012 06:24 AM

Cutting out the nails would leave me with many hundred 18 inch pieces. If you look at the third picture I posted, you can see that the flooring is nailed to the sub beams about every foot and a half, and the longest piece I have in that group is about 6 feet.

Of course, I could cut the nails out and do all of the floors in herringbone or chevron or basket weave!!

Uh... duh... *smacks forehead* I was considering doing herringbone and basket weave anyway, so that may be a great idea. Yanking all those nails and then cutting the boards anyway seems like a major waste of a LOT of time! I'll still have to pull nails from the border pieces to keep them long, but now that I've typed that, it does seem to make sense. I can't make that decision until I have ALL of it though so I can get an idea of how much of the 750 is useable. I'm sure there will be some that is damaged after sitting in a barn for 2 years. It was stacked so I couldn't really examine them. There is going to be considerable waste just due to how the floor was cut out - there are a few very short pieces even on this small section that I have,

Yes, it's solid maple, and pretty nicely color matched if the two sheets I looked at are any indication of the entire lot. The pieces are just a hair under 1" thick, with a full half inch as the flooring surface. They are 1 1/2 inches wide.

I'll post pictures of the next puzzle in a little while... gotta go eat.

mnp13 03-14-2012 09:41 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Ok, so here are close ups of both sides of one board. That black stuff is dirt and varnish (or floor sealer, I'm not sure) that was down between the boards. I'm going to have to get all of that off because if I don't the floor won't go together tightly.

My thought is to first check to see that the tongues are all the same size, then use them as a guide to run the boards through my shaper and shave all the crap off down to the wood, but not remove any wood. I know that's going to take some trial and error, but I'm thinking that's the best way? I am not interested in stripping the wood first, as that will defeat one of the best parts about this wood - not laying bare wood down to make my floor, as I'm quite sure my pets will be fighting each other to be the first to hack something up on the raw wood. lol

And on another note, this has been in a horse barn for two years and though I used to train horses and don't mind horse smell, it's over powering. Those two small pieces are making my office smell. Getting home after 8 hours will be interesting this afternoon! Of course, our home was a rooming house before we bought it, and the nicotine and food/grease stench was stomach turning for months. That has been gone for a long time, but we remember it well. Honestly, I'd rather smell the horse... but hopefully the removal of the dirt and then refinishing the floor will get rid of most of it.

joecaption 03-14-2012 09:54 AM

Way more work then it's worth, and you will be right back were you stated from. A wooden floor with a finish that will fail because of the dogs.
And no T & G on the end seams to keep the flooring level.

mnp13 03-14-2012 10:22 AM

Really? All of the boards are currently cut with a t&g on the end. Why would not using them keep the flooring level?

Why will the finish fail because of the dogs? The pine floors are so soft that I can make a dent with my fingernail. You can see the gouges in the floor in the pictures. My parents have a maple floor that has held pretty up to their dog for ten years, there are some marks in it, but nothing even close to mine.

Gym floors hold up to serious abuse, and I'm guessing this wood is at least 13 years old, as it was pulled out in 2009 (just found an article about the re-opening of the new gym at the school) and there's no way a school replaced a gym floor that was less than ten years old - probably MUCH older. So though I'm sure it's not impervious to damage, it has to be better than what I have. And what other options do I have that will hold up? (besides tile of course)

Not meaning to sound snotty, just looking for more info :)

As for it being "more work than it's worth" well, that's subjective. ;-) I don't choose to afford new because I have other priorities with my money, as was commented earlier, time is money and I agree. However, I can't really pay a lumber place with my time, they tend to want I'll save the cash and spend the time. In the end, I'll have a pretty floor, have learned some new skills and hopefully have used the money I didn't spend on the floor to pay someone to fix my side porch because I flatly refuse to do that particular job!!

DangerMouse 03-14-2012 11:20 AM

Cut it all up into 1' or 2' squares and do a parquet style pattern?


mnp13 03-14-2012 12:51 PM


Originally Posted by DangerMouse (Post 877468)
Cut it all up into 1' or 2' squares and do a parquet style pattern?

Well, they are individual boards, so I'd cut the boards to length - essentially cutting out the nails - and then assemble. That's probably going to turn out to be the best option for time. And I was planning to do that anyway, Lyzic's post just made the lightbulb go on about how to do it!

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