Lacquers and varnishes, which generally contain polyurethanes, tend to give the wood an orange, ‘plasticky’ appearance and should always be avoided on antique floors.Large gaps between boards are not just draughty, they are indicative of an overall change in humidity at some point in the lifetime of the floor.Preserving patination should be approached in the same way as with a fine piece of antique furniture.First, you must carefully strip back the layers of grime with turpentine and the delicate use of wire wool and a cabinet scraper.
For lower traffic areas a good quality beeswax will suffice.
But sanding is the harshest treatment you can submit a wooden floor to and it is a process that conservators will avoid where possible.
Sanding destroys the invaluable patination that wood develops over years of wear.
Floors have been crudely carved up to make way for modern services, while expenditure on maintenance and repair has been governed by the rise and fall of personal fortunes.
By the time a 200-year-old oak floor has been stained by the Victorians, neglected by a property owner who has fallen on hard times, chopped up by a plumber and coated in years of dust and dirt, the timbers might appear unsalvageable, even worthless.