Restoring old painted hardwood floors

Q: I am purchasing a home that has painted hardwood floors. The home is nearly 100 years old, and I have no idea what type of wood it has or how many layers of awful paint have been added to the natural wood. Is there hope for restoring this floor to its natural wood?

If not, what type of paint do you recommend so we can at least change the drab colors? [picture included]

A: My guess is that this floor is probably tongue and groove pine. Of course, floors like this can be sanded and finished, but the question is: Is it worth it? This is an extremely nasty and expensive job to do. The main concern is that this may be lead based paint. While my dust containment system will grab the dust, I am not so sure about the vapours that may be generated from this paint heating, smearing and hardening into chunks. If it were my house, I would have plywood sheeting screwed over top and install a hardwood floor.

If you wish to paint over top of this, I would recommend you consult a small paint store in your area.