Flooring questions


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Established Member
18 Jan 2022
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Have 2 separate projects coming up over the next few weeks:

1) sand ground floor engineered hardwood floors and apply oil/wax/varnish.

I'm torn on what finish to apply. Previous owners used an oil and as they are high traffic areas, you're basically left with a lot of patches where it's worn through. I get the pros are that it's more natural looking and can be patch repair, but for a family with kids (and a dog) is there any reason I should go for the resilience of varnish?

2) Lay herringbone wood flooring in the upstairs bedrooms.

Currently they are the original Victorian floorboards, mostly level, not many cuts over the years and solid. When the ceilings beneath were down I could see the majority of joists were in great condition, a couple however showed a slight bend. What's the best way forward? (Rip out and lay 18-22mm subfloor, overboard with 6mm ply or sand flat and lay herringbone direct onto floorboards?)

Thanks in advance
Id go for osmo hard wax floor oil and re treat as necessary.... but if you want to varnish, you'll need oil based, not water based..... unless you remove all the previous oil finish.

I havent done herringbone, but if thetes no deflection in the floors, i cant see why you shouldnt sand flat and lay on the original boards, although with tiling it is highly recommended to have a seperation / decoupling layer... maybe thats the answer? Sand flat, glue down bal rapid mat or similar and then herringbone?
Oil such as osmo is easily patched which is only good if you do it in time. I have found acid catalysed resin such as Rustin's plastic wood is long lasting on floors and I think better than most varnishes . I've only done a bit of wood block, any errors get exaggerated as you go along so a block plane comes in handy. I think the flatter the subfloor the better so I would take up the boards and use chipboard t&g this will give you a lower floor as well so less door trimming.
Thanks both. Will look into those products, the trouble is the living room to kitchen is open plan and given high use of kitchen, that will determine the requirements.

Re upstairs, think I'll get spirit level out and see what the state of affairs is. Overboarding with 6mm ply is the easiest aside from the door adjustment but they are 3m ceilings so I've got room to lose.

That said, I'm hoping to get 50 years out of this place so if the longer term solution is rip out and replace with new T&G then that's preferable
A flooring chap I know recommended Bona Traffic for my Oak floors and staircase, that was about 13 years ago and they still look great.

Really good professional product, not cheap but I think worth it.

Edit to say they also do a product called Mega which is more for domestic use and a bit cheaper, might be worth a look.
That looks a good product and price wise not bad when you consider the 2.5l osmo polyx is £70 and it's 5l for the bona
If you are going to rip up then flooring ply is a more ideal underlay for a glue down floor than chipboard (but a good deal more expensive too). Flatness is pretty critical for woodblock. I don't think I would trust 6mm ply as an underlay over uneven floorboards (I used some as an overlay over chipboard under a glue down wide board floor which has been fine, but that was flat to start with).

There are 2-pack hardwax oils designed for commercial uses - I used Pallmann Magic Oil on the block floor I did. It needs a buffer machine for application but combines at least some of the durability of a 2-pack varnish with the nicer finish and repairability of a wax/oil finish,
So 18-22mm structural ply underlay and rip up old boards the better solution it seems. Do I need to be finding T&G or with table/plunge saw just rip the boards to meet at joists?
I'd definitely use 22mm - the subfloor needs to be as rigid as possible to reduce the stress on the glue bond. I went for 25mm and can still feel some bounce when teenager is tearing around although that is in the joists I think. I routed a lap-joint on the edges but that was probably OTT.

The WISA T&G stuff was nice to use (in another room) but very expensive and not as stiff as a WBP hardwood ply.
I used Ronseal Diamondcoat on stairs and a maple floor roughly 25 years ago. It hasn’t been touched since because it still looks like day one.
For 1)

Have spent a good few hours researching all the recommendations and a few others, Bona Traffic HD seems to tick the right boxes for me (the incremental cost negligible in the life of the floor). Its a family home with visiting friends/pets and the open plan kitchen is the largest area so this seems to be a product that has the best chance of longevity coupled with fast curing times. Will pair with Bona Intense Primer as that seems best suited for the plank floors with UFH we have.

For 2)

Default now is to upsize my subfloor range from 18-22mm up to 22-25mm based on recommendations here and then to mat, then lay the herringbone tiles. I have 400mm joists centres so looks like either structural ply or T&G ply will do the trick. The only variable now is that when I have the sander delivered for the ground floor, I will go across upstairs bedrooms in a few places, nothing fancy, but to get idea of how flat existing floorboards are as the ideal scenario would be that they are useable.
Putting order together now and wondering about gap filler.

I've seen in some videos every tiny gap is filled and wonder if that is recommended, or as this is UFH and thus expands/contracts with central heating as well as seasonally that thin gaps between boards should be left. Picture below with pen for size reference.

if you added gap filler it will end up cracking anyway, because floorboards expand and contract so it's not a good idea.
That was graft and a half but finished sanding the ground floor. Lessons learnt: don't be cheap with the lower grip sheets, change them more regularly. Ended up leaving some lines when going perpendicular to the grain where the boards weren't level (unfortunately in most places due to lack of expansion gaps + UFH causing predictable issues). Primed with Bona Intense, 180 sanded then 2 coats of Bona Mega Varnish.

Before and after pics mixed up but hopefully identifiable. Thanks for all your help and recommendations
That's sanded up well. Great job.
Cheers. Probably the last sand as I fear the previous owners went cheap on the engineered flooring. Thankfully only revealed in one tiny section but there is less than 3mm of hardwood on top.

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