This article is a guide to flooring companies that are in the process of bidding for flooring projects in historic districts. There are a number of aspects that make flooring projects in historic homes different than when dealing with more modern developments. The following steps will hopefully save flooring companies time, money and issues that will most likely not be foreseen:

  1. The first action taken must be determining the species of the hardwood flooring. In most cases its white oak or pine, but know for sure! Before and after pictures of two projects have been provided for reference. One in historic downtown Atlanta Ga. and one in historic Newnan Ga. The Atlanta home has existing site finished ¾ by 2¼ white oak hardwood flooring. The Newnan home has site finished   ¾ by 2¼ as well as ¾ by 3¼ heart pine hardwood flooring.

  2. The next step is to inspect under vents and the under belly of the home thoroughly, specifically looking for multiple layers of sub floor. Most historic homes are on a crawl space but some do have basements or at least partial basements. Most times because of the age of the homes there have been multiple flooring choices over the years that have added layers to the original subfloor. At the Atlanta job, this lesson was learned the hard way when only the vent was inspected. Imagine our surprise when three layers had to come out to get to the original batten board subfloor. In addition, two layers had to come out of the master bedroom and closet to get to the batten board. These mistakes can get expensive as the unaccounted for demolition and disposal coat will most likely be on the customer.

  3. After all sub floor is repaired, leveling is completed and the sub floor is flat to NWFA (link to NWFA) guidelines then installation of the solid strip plank hardwood flooring can begin.

  4. Be cautious of smooth transitions and keeping the floor level between floor boards. Most customers, along with professional installation companies, want the new flooring to match level/flush, thus avoiding transitional pieces from one floor to the next.

  5. Look for spaces where you can remove some of the existing hardwood flooring. Good locations include where an appliance, island and/or cabinet will be placed. Think this step through carefully and know where everything will be placed when construction is complete. You will need to add in ¾ inch plywood like puzzle pieces to make sure the height of the floor stays consistent. Having the original hardwood flooring will be key to lacing in where needed and providing logical stopping points going into the new installation. As you see in the images, both homes required lacing to keep the flow of the hardwood.

  6. The reason for removing existing hardwood is simple; you can’t make up for that amount of time with new unfinished hardwood flooring. Using the exact stain or poly on the existing vs. the new will look completely different. As you will see with the picture content provided with this blog you will see very old white oak cut to raw and clear coat applied and it looks like golden pecan stain was applied. That’s the color stain that had to be used on the new hardwood to make a color match between the two. Now you understand why keeping some of the original hardwood is so important. Picture trying to lace given the facts concerning color, even the most seasoned of pros would have a difficult time making them match.

  7. When sanding the unfinished white oak flooring most likely you can use the standard grits and finishing steps as you would if the whole floor was new. The color variation has already been addressed.

  8. The heart pine is a totally different animal and will need 24 grit will be needed for the first cut to get down to the bare wood. Then pass 50 and follow the standard steps from there. There were two things present on this (which floor?) particular floor that would be considered rare. The dimensions being a 20 by 20 room, and there was no end joint to be found. Super cool look and unique design, which made the custom job that much more desirable. Additionally, notice the color of the floor after stain was applied. How did we get that red Brazilian cherry look? Gunstock stain! Straight gunstock on the cut pine and that gave off the red hue.

It was Metro Atl. Floors’ pleasure and privilege to work on both of these homes in the historic sections of Atlanta and Newnan. We are glad both projects turned out so well and look forward to putting the Metro stamp on future historic homes. Hopefully this blog helps any flooring companies who are in the bid phase, or getting ready to start sand and finish projects in a historic district.

Metro would also like to give a special thanks to Mr. Junk for help with demolition and junk removal. Metro has a long history of working hand in hand with Mr. Junk and recommends them for any of your debris and junk removal needs.

Installing and Refinishing Hardwood Flooring in Historic Homes
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