I'm not sure how to make the decision about how to finish my 100 year old fir floor. The boards are 7/8" thick, but quite splintery. They have stains on them. Even after sanding 1-2mm of material off, they still look kind of dirty.

Floor ready for sanding:

A rough fir floor ready for sandingA very rough area of the floor with nail holes

Another room after sanding with 24 grit:

After sanding... still kind of dirtyUgly nailsDirty looking floor with gaps

  • 1
    As my answer and my + on another answer indicates you have an awesome floor , I love old wood hard and soft, I have refinished close to 30 in my life On my own before my dad was gone and probably as many prior when he left us , grandad taught us how , I miss them both off topic but don’t paint these beautiful floors.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 0:51

2 Answers 2


That’s called character.

I’d use a pre-stain (test it and the stain color in a back corner of a closet). I’d set and putty all exposed nails, you don’t have to be perfect.

You’ll enjoy it for years.

If you paint it you’ll have a “plastic” looking floor.

  • I agree with this answer I did not include setting and putty ! But as I said I have never found an old wood floor like this that was not worth saving +
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 0:37

To tell the truth I rarely find old growth wood too far gone to save. In some cases I have had to replace rotten wood with wood from other areas of the house that were not as important. Taking a few boards from an attic or storage room to replace rot from a leaking window or chimney and returning the floor to its former beauty is really rewarding. You have some dark spots, but they can be bleached. Nails can be set.

The great thing about these old floors is that even after being refinished 50 years ago and 25 years ago and now ready to do it again you have thicker wood and 5x the quality--look at that tight grain. It is awesome. Do you see any knots other than bird’s eyes? I doubt it.

No more heavy grit; go finer. Read up on bleaching those small spots, then you are ready for whatever type of finish. Danish oil or stain and polyurethane are the two that I have used most often. I am partial to polyurethane as it brings out the beauty and can last decades protecting the wood from damage.

So no, I don’t think that floor is in bad shape at all.

  • 1
    People pay EXTRA to get a "distressed" look like that!
    – JRaef
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 4:28
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    Well yes they do pay extra on newer homes but more old “Vicky”s” want clear finishes, lots of experience in the 70’s before my dad was gone. But these floors look great and clear finish on tiny grain floors is what I look for. Probably in my last house from the early 30’s and I love the floors
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 0:44

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