Clean an old Wood Floor
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:12 pm    Post subject: Clean an old Wood Floor Reply with quote

Success is in the method you use, not in the products you use. Not simple, but effective with more assurance of a good result:

Try least aggressive methods and materials first, if that does not give you an acceptable result, then move on to a slightly more aggressive method. Test in small area before moving on to the whole floor. Here are a series of more aggressive steps to try out, be prepared to stop with the step that gives you acceptable results.

-- scrub by hand, dry with a short-bristle soft scrub brush and vacuum up the debris, always use a HEPA vacuum in old house work, "scrub by hand " does not have to mean on your knees, I fit a pole on a scrub brush and do it standing up
-- dry scrub with a stiffer bristle brush
-- scrub with plain hot water, the floor is so porous with open cracks that you should scrub small areas fast (2-3 sq.ft. in just a couple of minutes) and use a wet-dry vac to suck up the water and soil, allow to dry for a few days to judge results, allow to dry before any further wet treatment because wet wood is softer than dry wood and you don't want to damage the wood by scrubbing it when wet and soft
-- scrub with plain hot water mixed with just a bit of a mild detergent, like dawn regular or simple green, add just enough detergent so there is just a rim of suds around the top of the water in the bucket, if you have a thick head of suds that is too much detergent, suck up the residue, rinse immediately with plain water, suck up residue, and allow to dry

Use detergent, not any kind of soap. It will leave a soapy residue in the wood that probably will adversely affect any further treatments like oil or varnish finishes. Some folks (no offence intended) may be confused by the product name, Murphy's Oil Soap, because it has the word "oil" in it, thinking that oil is good for wood. Murphy's uses the word "oil" because they make the soap out of oil, the product does not actually contain any oil. Murphy's Oil Soap can be used for cleaning a wood floor that is protected with a built-up finish, because you are really cleaning the surface of the finish and the soap cannot get through the finish into the wood. But, really, even for that a mild detergent will work a lot better. If you want to actually experience the difference between soap and oil, wash your hair with soap for a month, and compare the result with shampoo, which is a detergent.

Vinegar is acidic and can soak into your open porous wood, damaging the wood and possibly future oil or varnish finishes.

If your small area tests show that water treatments raise the grain of the wood too much, leaving a fuzzy surface, then try scrubbing with turpentine, alcohol, or with mineral spirits, but you must use extreme ventilation with these materials because of the health risks. Ask for more info on "negative air-pressure ventilation" if you go with these materials.

By the way, if you try turpentine, do not use that fake stinky
"turpentine" they sell at the paint shop or home depot. Get real "balsam fir gum turpentine" from the website of "American Rope and Tar" company. It has a very mild (almost undetectable) scent of Christmas trees.

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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