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Restoring Woods and Tiles

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 6 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Renovation Expert Renovationexpert

When performing certain DIY tasks there can be the option to restore rather than to replace and this can be no better illustrated than with wooden floorboards and tiles on bathroom and kitchen walls.

Some of these floorboards and tiles may be decades old and although looking slightly worse for wear may be strong, durable and beautiful to look at underneath all that dirt and grime. So what do you do? Do you strip them out and replace them at great cost to yourself both physical and financial – or do you strip them back and restore them to their former glory – giving them an extra lease of life and saving you some hard earned cash?

Here we look at the options:

When and When Not to Restore

It is a difficult decision but one that needs to be made when embarking on a DIY task. Do you strip out all that old wood and start again – measuring, sawing, shaving and hammering? Or do you look at what lies beneath all those years of dirt, grime and in some instances – depending on the room of the house – the moss and mould that has gathered.

Many people might instantly consider ripping out all of this fine wood and tiles and starting from scratch but underneath the dirt and mess could be something beautiful and worthy of the time and effort it takes to restore it.

Before tearing it all out why not try and find out how it would look if restored?

Restoring a Test Section

If you are contemplating restoring floorboards for example then the best course of action is to try restoring a small area, perhaps in a corner, where it can not be overly visible should you decide to carry out the restoration proper.

Your first task should be to sand this area of wood down to the grain. In order to do this you must first scrub with warm soapy water and perhaps a scouring pad to ensure that any dirt, grime or grease is properly removed. At this point you should see the grain of the wood beneath it and this should be your first indication as to whether the wood is worth saving or not.

Sanding the wood should be done by following the line of the grain – sand towards the grain, never away from it. This only seeks to damage the grain and makes varnishing or staining difficult.

When you have done this try using a variety of stains on this particular section. Your local DIY hardware store will carry a selection of stains in a variety of different tones and shades. You can buy small sample tins to test. It is only after applying these samples will you truly begin to realise your wood’s potential.

Your Restoration

One of the most important aspects of restoring any tile or wood is washing it thoroughly. There really is no point to simply wiping it over with a cloth to remove dust. You must clean it thoroughly using hot soapy water and then allow the material in question to dry.

Allow it to dry overnight before returning to it. It is only at this time will you begin to realise the potential of the material you are working with.

If you are using paint stripper do so sparingly. Only use it on the areas of wood or tile that are covered with paint. Wrap a cloth around the end of your index finger and soak the tip of the finger in the paint stripper. Using your finger in a circular motion rub the paint stripper into the painted area allowing it time to dry in. Again allow several hours for the stripper to work before using a utensil to lift away the paint.

When using adhesives, paint strippers and acids you should make sure you are working in a well ventilated room.

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