Published on July 27th, 2015 | by Henri


Refinishing an old softwood floor

Q.  I have an old farmhouse that I’m slowly redoing. After removing 3 layers of Lauan and Formica on the kitchen floor, I found a softwood floor set interestingly diagonally to the walls. I would like to sand and finish this floor.

I would use polyurethane on it if it was a hardwood but I’m afraid if I finish it that way and something is dropped on it, (silverware etc.) It would chip the polyurethane and eventually look bad. Do you know of a better finish I could use?  Would a boat-building epoxy be a good choice or would it crack between the floorboards? Is there an epoxy made that is non-yellowing?

A.    Formica on the kitchen floor? That’s a new one on me.

You may be down to the subfloor. Before the advent of plywood and particle board, all sheathing on floors and walls was installed diagonally to prevent them from wracking.

If the subflooring is in good enough shape to be used as the finish floor, go ahead and use polyurethane. It’s OK on soft wood. I used it on my pine floors nearly 30 years ago. An experienced paint store person can tell you which varnish they recommend that would not yellow.

The traffic areas will have to be re-coated every few years, but that also goes for hardwood floors. Softwood floors are more prone to denting from furniture, etc., but that’s part of their charm. And I don’t think any finish would prevent denting.

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