Preserving History

PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOSH WHEELER | 360 HARDWOOD SOLUTIONS

Contacted by a rental property owner to do a quick and simple cleaning of a floor before the arrival of new tenants, Josh Wheeler, owner of 360 Hardwood Solutions in Duluth, Georgia, had no inkling of what truly awaited him once he arrived on-site.

“The property owner found me via Google Ads. Because I was working on another project close by, I met her at the property, and I was amazed at what I saw,” says Wheeler. “While marred and scratched, I could tell that I was looking at a century-old rift and quarter white oak floor.”

The 800 square feet of flooring had been through a lot during the past century. Covered in scratches and stains, the property owner hoped a simple cleaning would suffice, but Wheeler knew rushing the process wouldn’t do justice to the floor. Wheeler explained to her that a better bet was to take the opportunity to do a sand and finish.

Before

“I made it a point to be honest and transparent about what could be achieved. My goal was to make this floor last another 100 years, but I knew taking on a project like this required setting clear expectations,” Wheeler shares.

“I was confident there was beautiful white oak below the scratches and decades of dirt. I could tell it had never been professionally sanded,” says Wheeler.

“Working on a floor like this is a humbling experience. These floors have stories to tell, and we cherish the character they bring, even with their imperfections. It’s about more than just restoring a hardwood surface; it’s about respecting the legacy it carries and ensuring it stands strong for generations to come.”
— Josh Wheeler, 360 Hardwood Solutions

Taking the utmost care to preserve the floor, Wheeler’s first task was to remove and replace rotted and damaged wood. Wheeler employed a meticulous approach, avoiding wholesale replacements by carefully cutting out damaged areas and performing precise repairs with matching new wood.

“Some flooring had rotted between the master bedroom and the adjoining bathroom. Thankfully, the rotting did not extend to the joist underneath,” says Wheeler. “I didn’t want to rip out whole sections. If a board had damage from a hole, I would cut out a few inches of the damaged area and repair it with matching new wood. During the restoration, we even found shotgun pellets embedded within the floor, adding to the tale of its past.”

After removing and replacing damaged sections, Wheeler proceeded with a careful sanding process to reveal the hidden beauty of the white oak. He discovered remnants of a previous amateur sanding attempt, where the floors were sanded against the grain.

“To start the sanding process, I hit the floor with my Lägler Hummel, using 36 grit to remove the old finish and deep scratches. From there, I used 60 grit on my Pallmann Spider, and then did another pass with 80 grit. Finally, I went with 100 grit screens on my six-head attachment.”

Once the sanding was complete, Wheeler collaborated with the property owner to select the perfect color to complement the floor’s character.

“We decided on a DuraSeal medium brown stain to mask imperfections and achieve a consistent look,” he says. “With the finishing touches using Pallmann Pall-X Power Satin and Pall-X Gold, the floor’s beauty truly came to life.”

As the project neared completion, Wheeler felt honored to be part of such a significant restoration endeavor, preserving the rich history within the century-old floor.

“Working on a floor like this is a humbling experience. These floors have stories to tell, and we cherish the character they bring, even with their imperfections,” Wheeler reflects. “It’s about more than just restoring a hardwood surface; it’s about respecting the legacy it carries and ensuring it stands strong for generations to come.”

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