How to Handle Floor Repair and Restoration Projects

Restoring old floors requires much more than buying some wood at the lumberyard and walking away with a completed product. Restoring aging or damaged flooring to acceptable standards takes considerable effort and planning.

Refinishing is an effective solution for minor wood flooring damage, while restoration requires more extensive efforts and is more often the right option for more significant issues.


Flooring is an investment that should last decades, adding beauty and value to a property and helping create a comfortable living environment. But over time, it may become damaged, necessitating renovation or replacement to restore its original beauty and extend its lifespan.

Preventative measures such as using felt pads under furniture legs, placing rugs in areas of high traffic and adhering to an established cleaning schedule with appropriate products can significantly reduce repair projects. When selecting a professional contractor it’s essential that their quote process be open and transparent so there will be no surprises upon starting work.

Restoration may be your best choice if your floor has sustained extensive damage beyond refinishing, yet requires special materials and skill for seamless results. In this video from Fine Homebuilding editor Justin Fink speaks with restoration specialist Scott Sidler to understand why red oak boards from a lumber yard won’t do when patching an ageing floor of 100 years or more.


Before beginning any kind of flooring repair or restoration, it’s essential that the floors are thoroughly clean. Use wet vacuums to quickly clear away puddles of standing water while setting up fans and dehumidifiers to extract any remaining moisture from under your flooring – moisture accumulation in these places is a clear indicator that restoration or replacement may be necessary.

As well as looking unsightly, dirt and debris buildup can create an environment rich with germs, dust mites, bacteria, allergens and other potentially hazardous particles that are detrimental to both health and the appearance of your flooring surface. A thorough cleaning can rid yourself of such toxic substances while protecting it against further damage in the future.

Wood floor restoration generates large quantities of dust that must be properly cleared away before applying stain or finish. If left airborne, this dust could become embedded into your stain or finish and cause an uneven surface – an expensive mistake to make!

Removal of Debris

Flooring is one of the most integral yet underappreciated components of any home or commercial space, yet when damage strikes it can be a complex decision whether to repair or replace.

Scratches and gouges can be repaired using various techniques, including filling and refinishing, while other damage requires more extensive fixes. For instance, floors laid with bitumen (an adhesive material commonly used during the Victorian era) must first be completely stripped away before any attempts at refinishing are undertaken.

Water damage to flooring should be remedied as quickly as possible, particularly if disease-carrying bacteria were present or saltwater seeped through, particularly if this happened in a high traffic area like a kitchen or bath where repairs wouldn’t last for very long anyway. It’s often more practical and more timely to replace rather than restore existing flooring in such cases.


Refinishing is the final step of floor repair and restoration, consisting of sanding down to reveal its natural grain and applying a fresh coat of stain or varnish. Refinishing should only be undertaken if damage to a floor has reached such an extent that more extensive repair work must be performed to repair it.

To identify what kind of wood floor finish yours has, wet a small area discreetly with water and observe its behavior. If it beads up quickly, your floors likely have polyurethane coating; otherwise if it soaks into or stain surfaces instead, your floors could have oil finishes instead.

Once your floors have been refinished, it’s essential that they receive proper care in order to preserve their new appearance for many years to come. Regular cleaning, protection from heavy furniture and prompt attention for scratches or dents will extend their lifespan for many more years of enjoyment.

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