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  1. #1
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    Default Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    I first want to apologize if this has been posted previously. A search was made with 0 results.

    My wife and I just purchase a circa 1760 colonial. The floors are a mixture of original, replacements and patches completed over the centuries. The original rectangular nails are at the floors wearing surface and not that I was planning on it, but re-surfacing is not an option.

    I would like to know what is an approved method for cleaning the floors without damaging them?

    I've read about Murphy's Oil Soap and have reservations since people using it state that it's perfect while others say that it is not good unless the floors are sealed. I doubt my floors are sealed but can't really tell.

    I tried to use our cheap vacuum to at least vacuum the floors but the spinning brush never turns off and just kicks around the dirt/dust. Using the wand is very time consuming and tends to scratch the surface. I was thinking of gettIng a Dyson since its more powerful and turns off the brush when on wood floors, but I am concerned with the constant rolling of wheels as one vacuums the floor.

    Suggestions?

    I will post a photo later tonight of the floors for reference.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Being one who uses and reviews vacuums for a living, I can offer you some insight and assistance with choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your needs.

    The best way to vacuum a bare floor is with a hose and wand with a non-powered floor brush. The bristles of a bare floor brush are designed to loosen dirt for the vacuum to pick up, yet are soft and pliable so they won't harm delicate surfaces. With the right vacuum, cleaning a bare floor is faster, easier, and cleaner than by broom or dust mop because the vacuum removes the dust, it doesn't just wipe it around.

    Typically the best vacuum cleaner for bare floors is a canister style vacuum, while the best vacuum for carpets tends to be an upright, however, in today's world of multipurpose vacuums that line has blurred considerably.

    You can vacuum a bare floor with an upright vacuum in standard configuration, but as you well know, the brush roll tends to scatter debris more than it picks it up. Many brands have independent brush roll control so that you can turn off the brush for doing bare floor work. While this is certainly much better option, it's not as good as having a bare floor tool. To answer your question about the wheels, most vacuums have non-marking wheels, so it is unlikely that damage will result from the wheels themselves, but other parts of the vacuum can snag or scratch if you're not careful

    So what vacuum do you need? That kind of depends on whether or not you've got all bare floors or a combination of bare surfaces and carpets. It also depends on your preferences of a canister or upright, whether you like bag or bagless vacuums, and how you use the vacuum as a cleaning appliance during your typical house cleaning routine. Do you just sweep floors with it or do you also do above floor cleaning tasks?

    Price, while it is a factor, is not indicative of a good or bad vacuum, though cheaper brands tend to be cheap for a reason, whether it be lackluster performance or poor quality construction or both. IMHO, you should look at your vacuum cleaner as an investment. Making the right choice will save you money and provide you with a cleaner and healthier home.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    On to a few vacuum suggestions:

    Miele (pronounced mee-la ) - These vacuums are designed to last 20 years, that in itself is impressive. Miele was the first to come out with a sealed vacuum, meaning that 100% of the air that passes through the vacuum has to exit through the filtration system, it doesn't leak at joints and access points. This keeps the air in your home healthier to breathe.

    Dyson - I prefer their standard upright vacuum over the ball style. The standard seems to have just slightly better suction and it's far more stable when in the parked position and using the hose. Dyson came up with the first bagless vacuum system and is by far the best bagless manufacturer for a multitude of reasons.

    LG - If you want the performance near that of a Dyson but at half the price, then the LG Kompressor would be it. Like Dyson, it uses cyclonic technology. The biggest feature you'll love is the compressor paddle in the dust bin. Not only does the LG hold 3 times more debris, it compresses the debris into tight little cakes that drop out cleanly and dust free when you empty the bin.

    Oreck - The Oreck Quest Pro canister is an amazing machine. It's got the performance and features of more expensive machines, but won't break your bank account to get. There's too many good things to say about it to list here.

    This is by no means a complete list of attention worthy vacuums, so I would invite you to check out these vacuums and others at Best Vacuum Reviews. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have about them.
    Last edited by A. Spruce; 11-14-2011 at 02:00 PM.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    A.Spruce:
    Thank you for your double reply. I was worried that no one would reply to the vacuum point and the first person that does is a vacuum reviewer.

    I personally love the Dyson animal upright. My in-laws have one and it does a very good job at cleaning thier carpets. Over time, we'll put down area rugs so we will need something that can handle both bare floor and carpets. But to answer the question, we have bare floors throughout with no two original boards level or tightly together. The sub-floor and at times the basement can be seen through the gaps between the boards. We'll also use it to clean the cob-webs around windows and ceilings.

    Now, regarding the wand, this Bissel POS came with a brush tool, which is useless since the design of it looses suction which the vacuum in itself is limited in. So, to boost the suction, I was using the crevis tool. As I would glide it across the surface and due to the unevenness of the boards or just because of the suction, the crevis tool would scratch the surface.

    I will look into the other brands you mentioned.

    Now what about washing the floors?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doughboyea View Post
    A.Spruce:
    Thank you for your double reply. I was worried that no one would reply to the vacuum point and the first person that does is a vacuum reviewer.

    I personally love the Dyson animal upright.
    You're welcome. I too am a Dyson fan, I have been ever since we purchased our DC07 Animal about 7 years ago. There have been quite a few changes that I don't care for since then, but overall Dyson remains an excellent vacuum.

    One issue with many brands is that they are brand specific when it comes to additional accessories, meaning that only Brand X attachments will work on a Brand X vacuum. With Dyson, their hose and accessories size is shared by a few other brands, for instance, I have a few Kirby and VitaVac brushes that I regularly use on my Dyson.

    Where this becomes important is when the vacuum you have does not have the tools you need, much like the case with your Bissell. What you need is a non-powered floor brush to use with your wand and hose, this will "sweep" the floor and follow it's contours. In my case, I've got a 10" Kirby floor tool that works on my DC07.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doughboyea View Post
    Over time, we'll put down area rugs so we will need something that can handle both bare floor and carpets. But to answer the question, we have bare floors throughout with no two original boards level or tightly together. The sub-floor and at times the basement can be seen through the gaps between the boards. We'll also use it to clean the cob-webs around windows and ceilings.
    I suspect that a canister style vacuum will be more suitable for your needs than an upright. About the only advantage to an upright is that if you choose the right one, such as a Dyson, you'll have more above floor reach with the hose than you will with a canister of any kind, however, you can get generic extension wands and hoses if you find them necessary.

    Most canisters come with a non-powered floor tool. Depending on the brand, that tool may be a carpet/bare floor combo tool or it may be a non-powered brush. The combo heads tend to either have no bristles at all, or they have stiff retractable bristles, neither work as well as a dedicated soft bristled floor tool. Another note when it comes to these combo tools, without a powered brush roll, they don't do carpet as well as they could either.

    This is the type of floor tool that I'm referring to and recommend. The tool comes in widths from 8" to 12", depending on the brand. The best floor tools have a soft bristle which is usually hair as opposed to stiff nylon of less expensive tools/brands.



    Quote Originally Posted by Doughboyea View Post
    Now, regarding the wand, this Bissel POS came with a brush tool, which is useless since the design of it looses suction which the vacuum in itself is limited in. So, to boost the suction, I was using the crevis tool. As I would glide it across the surface and due to the unevenness of the boards or just because of the suction, the crevis tool would scratch the surface.
    Therein lies the problem. Crevice tools are meant for just that, getting into tight spaces, corners, nooks, and crevices. They are hard, so they can easily scratch if you're not careful. You might try checking Bissell's website for a floor tool that will work for your vacuum.

    Ultimately, you're probably going to need to refinish the floors which will fill in the gaps, and smooth out the surface. I read earlier that you've got the original square headed nails, these nails can be set deeper before the floor is filled and sanded smooth, I would recommend consulting with several reputable refinishing companies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doughboyea View Post
    Now what about washing the floors?
    Considering that you've got large gaps, cracks, and unevenness, wet mopping is out. Getting water into all those places would mean certain doom for those floors. The only cure is to have the floors repaired and refinished, then you can use a damp (not wet ) mop to do the cleaning, or, you could look into steam cleaning, which uses steam vapor to clean and sanitize. The nice thing about steam is that if you have the right machine, you can do a whole lot more than mop a floor with it. I have a SteamFast SF275 and a US Steam ES500 and US Steam ES1900. Of the three, I'd say the SF275 would likely suffice, but because you're floors are compromised, I'd recommend the ES500 instead, because it creates hotter, dryer, more consistent steam. If you want more info on them, just ask, for now I'll leave you with links to my review of these machines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doughboyea View Post
    I will look into the other brands you mentioned.
    For canisters, you won't go wrong with a Miele, though it will be a significant investment. A more affordable option is either the Oreck Quest canister vac or the Oreck Quest Pro canister vacuum. The primary difference between the two is the Quest uses a non-powered floor head while the Quest Pro has an electric floor head.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Spruce,

    This is like "Vacuum Cleaners 101" course.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Spruce,

    This is like "Vacuum Cleaners 101" course.
    Except I won't be testing you at the end of the discussion.

    Feel free to ask questions if you have them.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    Except I won't be testing you at the end of the discussion.

    Feel free to ask questions if you have them.
    You won't test me at the conclusion of this course, but my wife will...

    And as for the class, I don't have any questions, I just want to go to a break.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    Considering that this is "study at your own pace", feel free to break whenever you like, just don't let your wife catch you.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Cleaning 200+ year old wood floors.

    As promised:

    Dining Room Floor
    This room has boards nailed through the wearing surface to a sub-floor. The gaps are a quarter inch and larger. Re-setting them may not be possible or cost effective.
    1. Typical floor board (this one is on the large size at 21 inches).


    2. Closeup of the nail head.


    3. End section with staining.


    4. Staining.


    Living Room Floor:
    This room had its entire floor replaced with tongue and groove boards, all nails are hidden. Resurfacing would ruin it's "character".
    5. Replacement floor throughout room.


    6. Closeup.


    So, going back to the original question...

    Is there a liquid style product similar to Swifter that can clean these floors without using a mop and bucket and will not damage the floors?

    A.Spruce: I will look into the steam idea and I remember seeing a commercial for a Shark steam mop, but that maybe of the wet type that you were against.

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