The notion of ripping up old tiles or carpeting to discover pristine hardwood floors below is akin to the motorhead’s fantasy of discovering a barely-used 57 Chevy Bel Air in an old lady’s garage. It happens, but probably not to you. Haines says that in old houses in particular flooring can be particularly nice and even valuable, but also potentially fraught. “If there’s tile over flooring, you have to be very careful because the glue or mastic used may contain asbestos,” he says. “In that case it would need to be abated and it’s probably not worth having your floors redone.”
Before you lay a hand on your antique flooring or rip it out to replace it with something new, it’s worth figuring out what species wood you’re dealing with. “In the East Coast, for instance, heart pine is unique, as all those old growth forests were cut down more than 100 years ago,” Haines says. “And American Chestnut is pretty much extinct, and so you can’t easily find it unless it’s from a historic old house.” If you want help IDing what species you may have, Haines suggests consulting the forums on woodweb.com or woodoc.com.
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