Floor identification, floor care questions

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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BrewerytownBabe
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Floor identification, floor care questions

Post by BrewerytownBabe »

Hello, I'm new to the boards (though I've been lurking for a bit) and I need your help. I'm in the process of buying a two-story Victorian rowhouse in Philadelphia (closing 6/27). Part of what attracted me to the house was the woodwork and hardwood floors. It has a lot of unpainted (yay!) beautiful wood. But what kind of wood?

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I'm guessing oak flooring? Yes? No? The followup question is how to initially clean the floors. It was covered in carpet and there is alot of dust and dirt. I was thinking a good scrubbing with oil soap, but now I'm worried. Is oil soap okay?

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The floor shows a fair amount of wear and tear. The finish has worn off in places and there are stains, paint drips and scratches. Typical wear but not wrecked. How do I clean it?

S Melissa
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Post by S Melissa »

Pretty! Do NOT BUY Oil Soap!!! Buy instead a good shop vac - you'll use it a lot - and sweep up the floors of all the grit and crapola. Then with a very dry damp mop (I use a rag mop) and some white vinegar and tepid water - (not a scientific mixture - maybe a cup of vinegar to 2 gallons) mop the floors - very dry - and if necessary use some old bath towels to wipe up the wet. Do again if necessary - looks like the finish is worn off in places - you will have to have the floors refinished. Check here on the "resources" thread - HappyinHartland did a whole thing on her floor refinishing project and there's good information there,

Your woodwork can be washed down the same way - vinegar and water - no oil soap. Then, if necessary use a high quality paste wax on them and buff out. Shouldn't need anything more for a long time. Good luck on the closing!
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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lady1917
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Post by lady1917 »

Yikes! :shock:
I guess that means Murphy's oil soap is out, huh? I've used it in the past. Tell me, why is it bad for the wood?

Sandra
Harmonie House - Circa 1918
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S Melissa
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Post by S Melissa »

Murphy's Oil soap leaves a sticky film on the wood that actaully attracts dirt in the future, and should it ever need to be "screened" (which is a light sanding with a screen as opposed to sandpaper to refresh the finish) it will gum up the screens and you will have to do a bigger job. Vinegar and warm - not hot - water is what has been recommended to me - with wagging fingers and warning tones - from several floor refinishers over the years. Even a high end furniture refinisher (very high end antiques) recommends vinegar and water - not MOS.
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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Greg
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Post by Greg »

Also, if you do refinish it be careful with the sanding. Some of the oak floors in middle class homes at the turn of the century were only 3/8th inch thick. This type of floor was referred to as "wood carpet". The narrow strips of T&G wood were glued to a backing and it would have been laid out and face nailed. Real wood flooring was 7/8th inch thick and blind nailed. These floors can take several sandings. Wood carpet can not.

Iowa4Square
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Post by Iowa4Square »

Sure looks like oak flooring. I have to add that I love your staircase and colonnade, but that wrought iron railing addition is truly ugly! Hopefully it can be removed without too much damage.
1909 Colonial Revival Foursquare
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Greg
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Post by Greg »

Iowa4Square wrote:Sure looks like oak flooring. I have to add that I love your staircase and colonnade, but that wrought iron railing addition is truly ugly! Hopefully it can be removed without too much damage.
I wasn't going to mention it, but I'm glad you did.

BrewerytownBabe
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Post by BrewerytownBabe »

Yes I know the railings are ugly. They are going. PO is older lady with mobility issues, so it was function over form.

I'll probably not sand initially. Just clean, paste wax, and buff.

jwed123
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Cleaning dirty wood finishes

Post by jwed123 »

I don't know how others will react, but I've had some great luck cleaning up old wood furniture with waterless mild grit shop hand soap. Get one of the putty colored ones, have a pail of water at your side. Use a water dampened soft cloth (old white t-shirt, etc) and gently rub a small area (I usually go with about 4x4 on furniture - but you could try a bigger area on the floor). I always start in a concealed area in case something strange happens with the finish (although - I've never run into that). If you just want to clean it so you can wax or at least see what it looks like - this should do it. After you've scrubbed it (you may need to repeat on an area 2 or 3 times) wipe it down with a clean damp cloth from the bucket of water and change you water frequently. I've had fantastic luck with furniture and this method - it just melts a lot of old dirt and soot away like butter and in many cases after I rub it down with a bit of good quality furniture polish - you'd never guess it was the same piece. Leaves the finish in tact, saves the value of the piece.
Jan

catiminilewis
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Re: Floor identification, floor care questions

Post by catiminilewis »

I think instead of doing experiments you should consult or ask floor expert. They will help you better. It may be more ruined because of failed experiments. As It is very tough to identify in this picture what is it? They will suggest you good to clean up and maintain the beauty of the floor.

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