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Refurbishing a solid wooden floor (and giving it a new lease of life)

PUBLISHED: 11:20 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:20 22 October 2018

Restoring the solid merbau block floor

Restoring the solid merbau block floor

ATC Traditional Timber

When your wood flooring is in need of TLC, help is at hand, says Scarlett Harris of ATC in Cheltenham

Wood flooring is a great addition to any room in your home. It feels great having the natural material under your feet and has the added benefits of reducing the amount of dust mites, and certainly doesn’t harbour as many germs as a well-trodden carpet.

But what happens when our beautiful wood floors need a bit of TLC? Or any type of change? After having your floor down for a few years (depending on the type of wood) you may need to carry out some sort of floor refurbishment. And this was the case with a floor that was originally laid around 40-50 years ago and required a structural change along with a complete refurb.

The floor was a solid merbau block floor which had an awkward stepped section between two larger areas. The brief was to remove the step and create one complete area of block flooring and remove any evidence that there had ever been a step. The whole floor then required a full sand, oil and finish. The first area to focus on was the tricky stepped section. This had more than likely, at one point, divided the two larger areas for some reason. The dividing section first had to be built up to the same level as the two larger sections. This was joisted and a sub floor of 6mm ply board was laid, leaving a dropped section of just 20mm in order to allow for the new solid blocks to be fitted, which needed to be of the same merbau wood in order to match.

Merbau is a wood which is native to the island of New Guinea and some other areas in South East Asia. Unfortunately, due to illegal (and legal) logging and deforestation, stocks of merbau wood in South East Asia, Oceania and East Africa no longer exist. It is for this reason that we decided to responsibly source our new section of blocks via reclamation instead of adding to the very real problem of this beautiful tree becoming extinct within the next 35 years (GreenPeace estimation).

The next step was to remove the closest rows of blocks from each side of the larger area and the majority of one area due to irreparable damage. This was to ensure that the newer sections could be joined and fitted to the existing pattern. The existing sub floor was then scraped and any remaining adhesive, or in this case bitumen, removed ready for the new non-toxic adhesive and blocks.

Before the new section of blocks were laid, the larger areas needed to be sanded back, removing any existing coatings of oil, dirt and general wear and tear that the floor had endured over the years. To do this we used our trusty Bona belt sander with a coarse-grain paper along with a long-nosed edging sander to get under any obstacles such as radiators (and in this case an altar as we were working in a church)

The blocks were then carefully fitted, taking care to continue with the existing herringbone pattern. One of the hardest parts of this refurb was always going to be joining the new and existing blocks in a way that was not visible. Careful planning and measuring up was a must, so the two areas would match perfectly.

So now we were left with two completely sanded back areas and a new area of reclaimed merbau blocks, matched and joined perfectly between the existing areas. The next step was to feed our floor with a clear, natural oil in order to give the impression of one completely laid floor. We used the non-toxic oil Osmo clear 1101. This oil is great for solid woods with tight grains such as walnut, merbau, ipe and oak, and is brushed and spread onto the floor, seeping into the wood and leaving you with a rich, warm colour.

The refurbished solid merbau block floorThe refurbished solid merbau block floor

Once the wood has had a coat of the oil, it is then polished and buffed using radial floor buffers. The joins are thoroughly inspected and any inconsistencies are again treated with oils and polished to remove any evidence of a join.

Have a look at the floor and see if you can spot the join!

ATC Traditional Timber is at 26 Andover Road, Tivoli, Cheltenham GL50 2TJ (01242 220536) and

2 Mayhill Industrial Estate, Monmouth NP25 3LX (01600 713036).

Visit the ATC Traditional Timber website here.

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