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Splintered Floors

  • February 21, 2017
  • Blog
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Splintered Floors

Every kid I know who grew up in the Fan has a story about splintered wooden floors. I have heard middle school aged children telling ‘Fish stories’ about the size of the splinter that had to be removed from their tender, young feet. The first, and worst, time it happened in my own house was when my then 8 year old daughter was ‘ice skating’ down the long 3rd floor hallway in her socks. She screamed. I ran. Then, I nearly fainted at the sight of the giant splinter poking out of her heel. The part hanging out was so big I could yank it out without tweezers.

Sorry. That was gross, I know. But, when it comes to 100+ year old hardwood floors, care must be taken. Most of the floors in Fan homes are made from oak or heart pine timber. With proper care and cleaning, these floors will stay beautiful and last for hundreds of years. And, they are highly sought-after by today’s buyers.

Pet Stains:

Pet accidents will make dark, black stains on hardwood floors. They are really one of the worst things that can happen to your floors. These stains are nearly impossible to get rid of with normal sanding and re-finishing. Really, the only way to get rid of them is to replace the boards. The entire board should be replaced (and not just a section.) It’s a sad day when realtors see dark, black stains on floors.

Wall-to-wall carpeting:

Lovers of old homes typically cringe at the sight of wall-to-wall carpeting…especially if it’s the ugly, mustard-yellow 70’s variety. But, really it’s the best thing that can happen to old floors! As long as no water (or other wet things) has seeped through to the floors, they will have been protected under all that padding and carpet. I like to pull up a corner of the carpeting to see how well the floors look underneath. Often…SURPRISE! They look great and when carpeting is removed, they can easily be cleaned and brought back to life.

Sanding vs Screening:

Extreme care should be taken when thinking of sanding older wood floors. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is a job left only to professionals who are knowledgeable about the handling of older floors. We have a list of good floor sanders we can recommend. One of the most important considerations is HOW MANY TIMES THE FLOORS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SANDED. Each sanding can take 1/8-1/4’’ off the floor, and because old floor boards are relatively thin, they can only handle 2-3 sandings during their lifetime. Screening is a much gentler method and if done correctly can be done a number of times.

Water vs Oil-based polyurethane:

This brings us to another point. When choosing your floor sanding professional, make sure they use a water-based polyurethane for the final coat. Water-based finishes are a lower VOC, don’t have the harsh chemical smell and will dry ten times faster. When you have your floors re-finished, you will need to be out of the house and the floors need time to cure before they can be walked on so you want a finish with a faster drying time.


There are a lot of discrepancies over how to best clean old floors. I knew one floor refinisher who was on a personal mission from God to make sure no one EVER used wax or Pine-Sol or anything else to clean floors. He would repeat over and over again, “Only use WATER to clean your floors!!!” I will say that Nu-Shine is the greatest cleaner and they even make a nice finishing product that makes floors gleam. For my own safety, I’ll comment no further on this one.

Painted Floors:

Now, this is one that really gets the purists up in arms. Many folks think it’s a crime to paint wood floors. I’m a preservationist, but I’m also an interior design junkie and I have seen some amazing painted floors. I even think they look great when they become scuffed and aged. What many don’t know is that historically wood floors were often painted, especially in simpler, less grand homes. Do a search by ‘painted floors’ on Pinterest for inspiration.

Squeaky Floors:

Wood floors get squeaky usually because boards have swollen from heat and humidity and begin to rub against each other.  Try sprinkling talcum powder on the floor around the squeaky boards and sweeping it down into the cracks.  If this doesn’t work and you really want to get rid of the squeak, a professional may need to go at it from underneath the sub-flooring. There may be lose nails or warping of the sub-flooring. I personally don’t mind a little squeak.

The last word:

In the Fan you will see plain floors, decorative inlaid floors, painted floors and even scratched and stained floors. They work well in every room in the house and add value to the home, which will be important at selling time. Warm and welcoming, natural wood floors are one of the things that make Fan houses so special.  Whether you like dark stains, light stains and all colors in between, wood floors never go out of style.

Just watch out for splinters! 

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