How should I clean wood floors that have been covered up since 1946?


Found under carpet, then pad, then linoleum, then newspaper. Some of the newspaper is stuck to the floor, but all in all floor in good shape.

q how should i clean wood floors that have been covered up since 1946
  8 answers
  • Gary B Gary B on Nov 24, 2018

    I t depends on the desired look, If you are going for rustic, clean it and polyurethane. If a smoother surface is desired then have it professionally sanded and stained the color you want and sealed. Looks like pine to me, a softer wood that was intended to have the linoleum over it but looks great as a finished floor. Keep the big dogs off of it and put felt pads on all your furniture legs.

  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 24, 2018

    Your floors may be oak, given their age.

    You may be pleasantly surprised at how well they clean up if sanded down to bare wood with an orbital sander and 60 grit, 80 grit, 100 grit, 150 grit, 220 grit sandpaper. Use a "mouse sander" for corners. Do small sections at a time, and keep track of your sanding strokes, to avoid creating low points. Wear knee pads, goggles, face mask, and anti vibration gloves.

    Vacuum between sandings.

    Tack cloth before staining and sealing with a good quality poluurethane or similar.

    The dark color may be only from age and oxidation.

  • Nancy Busz Hansel Nancy Busz Hansel on Nov 24, 2018

    So lucky!

  • Rini Rini on Nov 24, 2018

    The dark patina on your floors is fabulous! If I were you, I would just clean them well -as in normal cleaning process- and keep them as that! Why would you want to sand them down and then tint them to add a fake version of what you already have!?! Nothing can ever surpass the beautiful look of natural patina.

    Oh! Also because they have been covered for so long, I can see in your photo that they are in tip-top shape! How lucky can you get? wooohooooo!!!!

  • Joanne lueke Joanne lueke on Nov 24, 2018

    Just be careful as that linoleum probably contains asbestos. Wear a mask for removing the rest and cleaning up any dust/debris. Those floors look amazing and in good shape. Best wishes for the kitchen of your dreams!

  • Rini Rini on Nov 25, 2018

    oh, nooo!! not turpentine! that would definitely strip them bad.

    because i am not there, I can't see what sort of dirt is there, but i recommend that you sweep them really well, even vacuum them if needed, and then proceed as you would with other floors, except, don't wet them too much. I would use a soap meant for wood, you can try this one ( and make sure you do a small area at a time; use the oil soap according to its instructions and do small areas to ensure that you can treat the floor evenly. once you are done with the whole area it should look super pretty and you can then determine whether you want to poly, varnish, or wax it. Personally, and depending on the amount of traffic that room is subjected to, I would probably just do wax, -our ancestors had only that and their floors were amazing!- otherwise, I would use a satin polycrylic. I have used Minwax but I looked and found this that is meant for hight traffic floors, for you ( -follow the directions and you should have beautiful floors to last for ages!

    hope this helps!

    • See 1 previous
    • Rini Rini on Nov 27, 2018

      @Charlene, I am so happy to have been able to help you! I am sure that you will do an awesome job and they will turn out great. Please, do show us -or at least me- how it goes and let me know if I can be of further help.

  • Michelle Michelle on Nov 26, 2018

    Clean well wth dust mop then mop wth Murphy's cleaning for wood floors. I use Murphy on my hardwood floor cleans and smells wonderful

  • Columbia GB Columbia GB on Dec 02, 2018

    I would hit it with a tried and true old fashioned hands and knees scrub with ammonia before making any decisions.

    Fill a bucket with hot water and add ammonia, use knee pads and rubber gloves. Start in a corner and with a big scrub brush, I like the wooden ones with stiff bristles, scrub in a circular motion a foot and a half by three foot section using plenty of the solution. It needs to sit for a few minutes, so this size allows it to do that. Then wipe the excess water up with a large sponge. Working in strips from left to right, wall to wall, do the whole floor and then come back and thoroughly rinse with clean warm water.

    You will be amazed at the amount of dirt and crud that will come up. Which means you will need to empty the bucket and make a new batch up now then because the water will be near black. Also, make sure the room is well ventilated! Using ammonia vs regular cleaning products is like night and day. Nothing works like ammonia.

    Once you have the years and years of grim removed, you will have a better idea of what you are dealing with. You will be able to see the true color and access the condition of the finish, if there is one. If the finish is bad, you will need to sand and start over.

    If it's in fairly good shape, once it's dry, you can put two to three coats of Quick Shine over it. This does two things. One - It looks great and is super easy to clean. Two - It protects the wood finish from wear and tear, ie the wear is on the Quick Shine. Ideally, you would use the same method to strip and replace the Quick Shine every two to three years.

    I've done this on all kinds of floors and finishes and have always had great results. I've also had to start from scratch and sand when the wood finish was in bad shape and needed to be re-coated.

    Good luck with the project!

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