Refinishing a painted 115-year-old pine floor

Q: I’m refinishing a 115-year-old pine floor and getting a little desperate! I’ve already managed to sand and scrape off several generations of paint and reached the bare wood and my first coat of oil-based poly has dried.

However, I’m afraid I put it on a little too thick in places in one room and have several black stains appearing where there was only bare wood before (particularly around counter-sunk nail holes I didn’t dare try to fill.)

I now understand I should have used a sealer on my pine floors to produce a more uniform amber color, but at this stage I just hope to remove the black stains and put two more coats of poly down. I’ll be happy with a rustic look as long as it doesn’t appear I have tire tracks in my dining room!

A: Painted pine? I would have recommended you hire a professional for sure. To save some money, you may have jeopardized your health. Without a doubt, the paint you removed would have contained lead.

I wouldn’t consider some black discoloration around countersunk nail heads necessarily a blight on a floor like this. If it really bothers you, you can always “countersink” or recess the black spots and apply wood filler over top. You will need to buff with a fine abrasive between each coat and remember: thin coats are best. Generally a spread rate of about 500 sq. ft. per gallon is recommended.

Removing the many layers of paint on an old farmhouse floor

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I own a 200-year-old farmhouse with painted wide plank pine floors. What would you recommend to remove the many layers of paint?

A: Painted pine planks! Should look nice when it’s refinished. The old pine has developed a really warm natural color. All you have to do is get to it.

The only 2 methods I know are either chemical strippers or sanding. Even with chemical strippers to remove most of the paint, the floors would still require sanding, just not as heavy. This sanding is not something I would recommend you do on your own for health/safety reasons.

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