How to look af­ter your wooden floors

When your wood floor­ing is in need of TLC, help is at hand, says Scar­lett Har­ris of ATC in Chel­tenham

Cotswold Life - - NEWS - ATC Tra­di­tional Tim­ber is at 26 An­dover Road, Tivoli, Chel­tenham GL50 2TJ (01242 220536) and 2 May­hill In­dus­trial Es­tate, Mon­mouth NP25 3LX (01600 713036).

Wood floor­ing is a great ad­di­tion to any room in your home. It feels great hav­ing the nat­u­ral ma­te­rial un­der your feet and has the added ben­e­fits of re­duc­ing the amount of dust mites, and cer­tainly doesn’t har­bour as many germs as a well­trod­den car­pet.

But what hap­pens when our beau­ti­ful wood floors need a bit of TLC? Or any type of change? Af­ter hav­ing your floor down for a few years (de­pend­ing on the type of wood) you may need to carry out some sort of floor re­fur­bish­ment. And this was the case with a floor that was orig­i­nally laid around 40-50 years ago and re­quired a struc­tural change along with a com­plete re­furb.

The floor was a solid mer­bau block floor which had an awk­ward stepped sec­tion between two larger ar­eas. The brief was to re­move the step and cre­ate one com­plete area of block floor­ing and re­move any ev­i­dence that there had ever been a step. The whole floor then re­quired a full sand, oil and fin­ish. The first area to fo­cus on was the tricky stepped sec­tion. This had more than likely, at one point, di­vided the two larger ar­eas for some rea­son. The di­vid­ing sec­tion first had to be built up to the same level as the two larger sec­tions. This was joisted and a sub floor of 6mm ply board was laid, leav­ing a dropped sec­tion of just 20mm in or­der to al­low for the new solid blocks to be fit­ted, which needed to be of the same mer­bau wood in or­der to match.

Mer­bau is a wood which is na­tive to the is­land of New Guinea and some other ar­eas in South East Asia. Un­for­tu­nately, due to il­le­gal (and le­gal) log­ging and de­for­esta­tion, stocks of mer­bau wood in South East Asia, Ocea­nia and East Africa no longer ex­ist. It is for this rea­son that we de­cided to re­spon­si­bly source our new sec­tion of blocks via recla­ma­tion in­stead of adding to the very real prob­lem of this beau­ti­ful tree be­com­ing ex­tinct within the next 35 years (Green­peace es­ti­ma­tion).

The next step was to re­move the clos­est rows of blocks from each side of the larger area and the ma­jor­ity of one area due to ir­repara­ble dam­age. This was to en­sure that the newer sec­tions could be joined and fit­ted to the ex­ist­ing pat­tern. The ex­ist­ing sub floor was then scraped and any re­main­ing ad­he­sive, or in this case bi­tu­men, re­moved ready for the new non-toxic ad­he­sive and blocks.

Be­fore the new sec­tion of blocks were laid, the larger ar­eas needed to be sanded back, re­mov­ing any ex­ist­ing coat­ings of oil, dirt and gen­eral wear and tear that the floor had en­dured over the years. To do this we used our trusty Bona belt san­der with a coarse-grain pa­per along with a long-nosed edg­ing san­der to get un­der any ob­sta­cles such as ra­di­a­tors (and in this case an al­tar as we were work­ing in a church)

The blocks were then care­fully fit­ted, tak­ing care to con­tinue with the ex­ist­ing her­ring­bone pat­tern. One of the hard­est parts of this re­furb was al­ways go­ing to be join­ing the new and ex­ist­ing blocks in a way that was not vis­i­ble. Care­ful plan­ning and mea­sur­ing up was a must, so the two ar­eas would match per­fectly.

So now we were left with two com­pletely sanded back ar­eas and a new area of re­claimed mer­bau blocks, matched and joined per­fectly between the ex­ist­ing ar­eas. The next step was to feed our floor with a clear, nat­u­ral oil in or­der to give the im­pres­sion of one com­pletely laid floor. We used the non-toxic oil Osmo clear 1101. This oil is great for solid woods with tight grains such as wal­nut, mer­bau, ipe and oak, and is brushed and spread onto the floor, seep­ing into the wood and leav­ing you with a rich, warm colour.

Once the wood has had a coat of the oil, it is then pol­ished and buffed us­ing ra­dial floor buf­fers. The joins are thor­oughly in­spected and any in­con­sis­ten­cies are again treated with oils and pol­ished to re­move any ev­i­dence of a join.

Have a look at the floor and see if you can spot the join!

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