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Subject: Floor finishes

Floor finishes

From: Detlef Klein <klein>
Date: Tuesday, August 3, 1999
Pete Sixbey <psixbey [at] max__state__ia__us> writes

>I am a conservator in the Midwest looking for
>options/recommendations for floor finishes that can be applied to
>historic floors

Is there any way of determining the age of the existing coating? Can
you have the finish analysed? If it is original historic varnish,
then your options are possibly restricted to preserving this finish
underneath any restorative coatings.

Generally, if the existing varnish is flaking and worn off
completely in some areas, and if the varnish is a modern type
polyurethane, then your best choice is to remove it completely using
a solvent based stripper and cleaning with solvents afterwards (not
a nice job) but if you don't then you'll probably find that any new
surface coating will not adhere properly or will not be compatible.

Check out the type of finish that would originally have been used on
the floors: maybe remnants of an original finish still exist in
corners, and relate contemporary trade practice to the age of the
house. Traditional floor finishes are usually oils and or wax
finish. Typical oils are linseed oil but a better option is tung oil
because it is harder wearing.

What timber is the floor? Some timbers darken considerably when
oiled, oak can turn black.

Have you considered floor matts or carpet on high traffic areas?
This also protects the floors from abrasion. Are  visitor required
to take shoes off? I believe visitors should not be allowed into
many historic houses with shoes on anyway.

Hope this helps, I can supply you with recipes and hints for oiling
and waxing historic floors if you wish. Good luck,

Detlef Klein
The Science Centre & Manawatu Museum
Private Bag 11055
Palmerston North
New Zealand
+64 6 3555123
+64 021 608259

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:12
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 4, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-13-12-008
Received on Tuesday, 3 August, 1999

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