One of the most common areas homeowners of old houses frequently refurbish are its beautiful old floors. Whether they are made from wood, quarry tiles or flagstones; these old floors add allure to the beauty of these house of character. However, they are also the most prone to wear and tear. Even though their uneven, damp and cold character might be one of the reasons you fell in love with the house, living with it comfortably poses a challenge. Fortunately, there are numerous methods our modern times have offered to provide solution to this dilemma.
Sub-base Flooring Insulation
Most often than not, the old flooring materials used in old house are not at fault at all. The main issue is the material in which is it laid on – the sub-base. This is very common when using quarry tiles and flag stones as flooring materials and used earth or sand as its sub-base. Inherently, using earth and sand as its sub-base is not a big problem but it makes the floor very cold as there is a little to no insulation at all. The moisture from the ground can also come back up to the floor especially if you lay a thick rug or carpet over it. These kinds of floor materials are designed be breathable, and easily absorb and release moisture to the environment without damaging the integrity of the structure. Using non-breathable material or unsuitable insulation on top of them for warmth is the main cause of this moisture build-up. This will cause problems to homeowners who are unwilling to wear slippers indoors all the time.
One method of solving this problem is taking up the tiles or stones and level the floor that would allow for the insulation, concrete and a new floor covering to installed. Insulation materials should also be designed to withstand the load of the concrete slab and flooring on top of them. Most insulation materials present in the industry nowadays are basically resistant to air and moisture; this means that the moisture will most likely build up inside the flooring which defeats the purpose of using breathable flooring materials. Damp-proof insulation membranes can also cause salt build-up inside and capture moisture in the air and would result in a wet floor. Take note that this solution is not generally recommended if you want to retain your old flooring and there is no other alternative as this is not only costly but would can damage the beauty of your old floors due to its intrusiveness nature.
Old Stone Floors
Stone floor undulation complements the alluring character of old structure and unless they pose danger to anyone is best left on its original state. Slight undulations can be reduced through simple matting or if there are stones that you want even out you can rebed with the use of coarse sand or better yet use a hydraulic lime mortar for better results.
Dressing back to further remove loose materials is a simple solution for flaking stone floor materials. Lime-based grout can also be injected in some cases where the laminations in limestones needs to be repaired. Lifting and reversing the stones is also one of the simplest yet effective techniques where serious erosion is already visible.
Holes, chipped edges and deep cracks in stone flooring materials can be easily filled with hydraulic lime mortar, although continuous application and maintenance will be necessary. Do not use waterproof grouts that would prevent moisture in passing through the permeable material. As previously discussed this would cause damping on the floor due to moisture build-up inside. You should always consider renewing first the part of the damaged floor material before opting for replacement. Not only is this cost-effective, you will also preserve the entire beauty of your old stone floors.
Stone floors are generally maintenance-free that would only require regular sweeping and washing with small quantities of water to remove dirt and grime buildup especially in between the stones. Avoid strong cleaning agents and impermeable sealants since this will damage them. If you want to use floor coverings, make sure that it is of breathable material such as natural fiber to minimize damp floor problems.
Old wooden floors
Any defect on old wooden floors can easily be repaired by removing the defective floorboard by chiseling out and replacing it. This will become a huge issue if numerous board replacements are needed as it will significantly alter the appearance of the entire floor even if you are very careful. Cupped floorboards can easily be flattened with the use of drum sander and sanding them diagonally. After you have evened out and sanded off the finish, bleaching can remove any discoloration that might happen in the process.
Wide gaps between wooden floor boards is very evident especially if unreplaced for a long time due to fluctuations in environmental humidity. These gaps can generally alter the floor’s appearance and may pose danger to homeowners. One of the best non-intrusive solution in removing these gaps is to spread a layer of thinned latex filler over the entire floor. This will greatly fill the small gaps and will not alter the look of your old wooden floor.
For finishing, you can opt to use polyurethane or penetrating oil finishes. Polyurethane coats the entire floor with a film-like finish. A foam finish applicator is generally recommended if you want to use polyurethane on your floor. On the other hand, penetrating oils can be used if you want to protect the wood from within and provide the floor with a more natural-looking finish.