25 August 2010

Wood Floors and Gorilla Glue

I have an ongoing struggle with old floor boards that I am sure many readers also share. The problem in many of these old Cincinnati buildings is that the floor boards are a soft wood like pine or fir, maybe poplar, and they dent easily and sometimes they splinter. But the really annoying thing about them is the gaps between some of the boards.

I have noticed several ways these gaps have been repaired around the neighborhood. Some people use Bondo. This seems to work, but the Bondo is harder than the wood, and it certainly does not stain. Another method is to use a product called "part 50". This is a clear epoxy wherein you mix equal parts and pour it into the holes and it solidifies so that it looks like glass. They sell the stuff at Cincinnati Color. This is pretty cool, but can be very expensive and is really only appropriate for small dents and depressions.

Years ago, I experimented with wood epoxies like Abatron. These worked pretty well when repairing window sash, but again, it was pretty expensive not to mention time-consuming. I found out later that if the wood was that rotten, it was better to just get some new sash made to match. And that is an approach that some people take with the wood floors: cover them with new wood. However, I prefer to keep the old wood floors whenever possible. A new floor just doesn't have the character IMO.

Lately, I have been experimenting with Gorilla Glue. Gorilla glue is the duct tape of the modern handy man. To my wife's delight, I use it to fix everything from kid's shoes to broken dolls. The cool thing about Gorilla glue is that it expands into the recesses of the cracks and bonds very strongly to the wood, and seems to have the same flexibility of the wood. It also sands easily. The big negative is that when it expands, it leaves lots of air bubbles, which are not so good when trying to refinish a smooth floor. Below are some photos I took this week, while trying to repair a crack. I think the Gorilla Glue is great at solidifying the old loose boards, but I need something that is better for the final finish coat. Anyone have ideas?



staining the fill


wiping excess stain off


final look:

9 comments:

Radarman said...

Most of the soft wood floors in the 19th century buildings here were meant to be covered with a layer of straw and then strip carpeting. Later they got covered with linoleum which was thought to be quite swell.
The wood was never meant to be exposed, so you can't curse the builders.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to put stain into the glue prior to filling the crack? That might produce a better color overall.

Might want to find a natural-based stain so the chemicals dont spontaneously combust or something. Im not a chemist...

CityKin said...

^^True, the soft wood also gets dented easily and sometimes splinters. Area rugs work pretty good as a compromise so that you see the wood but also avoid too much wear and tear on this fragile flooring material.

Mike said...

For the finish coat to fill in the GG voids, try tinted wood putty or making a paste from yellow wood glue and sawdust. Both are sandable.

Have you ever thought about cutting out the damaged wood and replacing with a wood patch? I would be concerned for large spaces the natural movement of the wood may pop out the glue patch or impede the natural movement of the floor.

CityKin said...

^yeah, I think I might try something like that to fill the voids.

catherine said...

Yes, I LOVE Gorilla glue! > {

Bill Landeck said...

To fill the foam's voids; mix latex caulk with a little latex paint to match the flooring color. Work in with a putty knife and wipe away excess with a damp cloth.

Bill Landeck said...

BTW I use latex caulk because of its greater flexibility than wood putty; it will move with the floor.

CityKin said...

Hmmm. Interesting. Do they sell a tinted black latex caulk? I'll try this.