Author Topic: At what point is it better to replace than repair?  (Read 9646 times)

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Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« on: February 02, 2016, 10:12 PM »
This is something that's probably a ways out, but I was thinking about it this evening.

When I bought my house, the entire place was carpeted.  The first thing I did was pull it all out and uncover the oak floor underneath. To my chagrin, there were some significant areas of water damage, as well as some other strange stains that actually still secret some ooze in the summer months.

I sanded the floors with a drum sander and edger - going diagonally with 24, then with the grain with 24-100.  I screened, and then finished with Rubio Monocoat. 

Unfortunately, this wasn't enough to get rid of all or even most of the damage - a lot of it seems to go all the way through the wood.  So, now I have some stained but refinished floor.  I suppose you could say the floor has character.  But I think it also has urine in it.  ::)

Eventually, I'll be doing some work on the downstairs again, and I keep circling around whether or not to try and lace new oak flooring in or to replace the whole thing (it's only about 300sq ft).  I've heard that properly repairing and replacing individual flooring can be very time consuming.  On the other hand, I imagine ripping out and reinstalling a new floor might take a while as well.   

What's the point at which you all would say "forget it, I'm going to rip this out and replace it" vs fixing it?   Is there a magic number? 

-Adam

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Offline Kev

  • Posts: 7652
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 11:47 PM »
I don't have the magic ratio, but I know where you're coming from.

I have a similar issue with about 90 square metres (~900 square feet) with multiple problems. Sufficient partial repairs would see me replacing 25~30% of the floor and that's enough to make me think I'll do the lot for consistency's sake!

Even if you only need to replace less than 10% of the boards a big factor will be whether or not you can get it all to look the way you want.

Offline Bert Vanderveen

  • Posts: 529
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2016, 07:35 AM »
Just renew it. Adds value to your property and will please you every day.
Cheers, Bert Vanderveen

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Offline Billedis

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2016, 07:42 AM »
If the urine is through the wood, it is in the subfloor too.  I suggest replacing all.

Offline mike_aa

  • Posts: 1075
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2016, 08:27 AM »
@mrFinpgh

My vote would be for replacement of the whole floor.  Timewise, it may end up being faster than trying to weave in a number of repairs.

That being said, are the bad spots mostly on one end so your could remove that whole section and replace it with new without having to weave any boards?

Good luck with your decision!

Mike A. 

Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3710
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2016, 08:29 AM »
If the urine is through the wood, it is in the subfloor too.  I suggest replacing all.

I agree with Billedis
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Dane

  • Posts: 362
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2016, 09:40 AM »
Having made this type of decision many a time before, I can just about promise you that 300 sq ft is going to take you less time to just totally replace than mess around with patching and matching.  It it were 1000 sq ft, I would probably consider patching it.

Offline Thunderchyld

  • Posts: 93
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2016, 10:06 AM »
Having flipped multiple Little Old Cat Lady houses, your best bet is to remove and replace the flooring.  Probably the subfloor too, if it's truly soaked through the regular flooring.  Kept the oak flooring from one victorian for five years, trying to let it air out and return to normal.  No such luck.  If I ever get around to cleaning out my storage barn, rather than adding to it, I might try something like high pressure steam and/or a vacuum kiln and see if I can't reclaim it.


Offline Tinker

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2016, 03:44 PM »
Once the wood is soaked with urine, any aggressive cat or dog who comes into the house will try to mark its territory over the area. It takes a long time before the odor goes away so they can no longer detect.
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Simon (UK)

  • Posts: 30
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 03:53 PM »
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?

Before you get that nagging feeling you should have replaced it rather than spending a lot of time not being happy repairing it.

Simon

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2016, 10:34 PM »
Thanks, all.  It sounds fairly unanimous. These days, my time is more valuable than materials, so replacing it looks likely.

It is a shame -- there are some very nice quartersawn boards in there.  But the dispersion of stains and damage is so pervasive.

So given that this is my house, I don't plan on staying here more than another 3-4 years, and it's not a very valuable house at that (100k), what would be the smart choice in terms of a replacement floor?  Engineered? Laminate? Solid?  I put a very nice cork floor in upstairs, but I think that it might be overkill to put it in downstairs as well. 

Thanks,
Adam



Offline waho6o9

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2016, 11:42 PM »
A good floor guy can do wonders and it'll be cost effective as well. Think done.

:)

Offline TealaG

  • Posts: 109
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2016, 12:20 PM »
I might consider laminate.   Solid wood will be expensive and has more movement - unless you personally would love it for the 3-4 years you'll be at the house, it wouldn't be worth the money because you may not get it back.  Less expensive engineered hardwood has a very thin wear layer and cannot be refinished.  You could go for an engineered hardwood with a thicker wear layer, but for a house you'll only be in for 3-4 years, I might not spend the money.  If you have pets, go for laminate because the pets scratch the wood very quickly (apparently...I don't have pets) and therefore a wood floor would be damaged anyway.

Offline roblg3

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2016, 04:36 PM »
Cork laminate right over it. They're doing some really nice feeling and looking cork. It's a nicer feel under your feet AND much more pet friendly. It's easier to relate too
Rob Gardner
Operator
RL3 Enterprises

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2016, 11:57 PM »
Thanks, guys. 

I put cork in upstairs and I love it.  My only regret is that I didn't get a couple of the joints quite tight enough when I installed it, and now I need to figure out a way to tighten them up.  It feels great and looks great, too.

I was thinking about laminate vs hardwood. I just went through the whole refinishing process right before I bought the place, and a laminate would definitely save me some $$ and labor.  I suspect I'd need to do some work to shore up the subfloor and make things a bit more solid before I installed, though.  What are some good brands of laminate to look into?

I don't have any pets, but the old lady that lived here before me apparently did, and she didn't think taking them outside was always necessary from the stories I've heard.

One thing, slightly related to a floor:  I'm going to need to do something about the stairs.  Pretty sure what's in there right now is an oak tread and oak risers.  The steps are just in bad shape -- treads are split and some of them are quite loud when you walk on them.  My biggest problem is that they aren't accessible from underneath - I've got full on plaster and lath.  Removing it is a bad option (asbestos/lead issues), so I'm looking for a good way to replace the treads and risers from above. 

A friend of mine did this by removing the treads and adding some reinforcement, then installing new treads with a good amount of construction adhesive and construction screws.  He painted his steps and then put a runner over them. I'm not a carpet fan, but I could see that working out.  I saw something where they used butcher block for stairs (This old house?)  and that looked awesome.  I don't know how good that would look with the QSWO newel post, though.  :-)

Thanks,
Adam

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 4010
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2016, 12:08 AM »
I could picture dominos and glue being your friend.

Probably a jig saw to get the existing bits out of the way.

You could also make a template for both the treads and what they attach to so that the tenons are aligned and then just weight each one down. A router or drill and some 3/4 oak could also work well.

Or you just use screws and either brass or have a plug on each hole and 'Japanese saw' them flush. You would still want a template/jig to have them not be random.

Offline roblg3

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2016, 05:56 PM »
Put laminate right over the 3/4 oak. Not much of a better base than that.
Rob Gardner
Operator
RL3 Enterprises

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2016, 08:23 AM »
Thanks, Rob

I would think there would be some issues with going over the oak.  I'd be introducing a change in the height of the first step on the stairs.   I do need to fix my stairs anyways, so maybe some judicious planning could render that issue moot, but I'd probably want to be careful of that.

I'm still slightly on the fence about replacing or covering over.   I am going to be covering up a good chunk of the floor with cabinetry at some point (moving the kitchen into the now-dining-room), and see that as a potential opportunity to scavenge the material underneath and use it to patch in the more egregious spots. It might take a bit of work, but it would save some money.

Speaking of stairs, I took a closer look at what's going on with mine (housed stringer construction).  I can see a small amount of the underside from my basement.  It looks like a number of the wedges have fallen loose or slipped out of place, which is probably part of why there is so much squeaking and movement going on with the treads and risers. 

Having already established that I won't be removing the ceiling that runs beneath the staircase, I'm wondering what the best course of action is going to be.   Is it sensible to sister some 2x material to the stringers and use PL adhesive and screws to install the stairs?  I know it isn't the carpentry of using wedges, but it seems like a possible way to replace the treads and risers while also providing more support underneath the step.

Holmz, I think your callout about some kind of template for fastening is a good one.  I would definitely want to keep everything lined up and looking smart.

Thanks,
Adam

Offline Holmz

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2016, 07:33 PM »
...
Holmz, I think your callout about some kind of template for fastening is a good one.  I would definitely want to keep everything lined up and looking smart.

Thanks,
Adam

Even if it doesn't look smart, at least it will look consistent  [tongue]

You could do something for the stair steps where they were rough or textured for foot grip...
That maybe smarter than it looks.

Offline roblg3

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2016, 07:56 AM »
Check your riser heights typical laminate will be 1/4-3/8. That variance is acceptable to me. Sometimes the first riser is already off.  I'd not want my riser 3/4 shorter. And that is way off code anyway. I see nothing wrong with cutting a section out of the tread to pull them out and then "scab" 2x4 on the sides of the stringer and installing on top of those. Glue and screw. That's solid.
Rob Gardner
Operator
RL3 Enterprises

Offline MGB

  • Posts: 111
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2016, 01:31 PM »
why not cut new wedges for your stairs? Pl any voids in the stringers and screw everything down.

Its going to be a time consuming fitting new stringers to an old staircase. In the end it could possibly be the same amount of labor as pulling the old stairs. The benefit to a new set is youd have engineered treads that wont cup. Plus itll be more solid than any repair would be.

I vote for covering the old flooring as well. If youre able to salvage the staircase you could pad the last few treads up. A variance of up to 5/16 is allowed by code. You could have a 1/8" increase on riser height over a few steps to make everything marry up.

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2016, 05:56 PM »
So here's the breakdown on riser heights, from the bottom to the top - rounded to the nearest 8th.

8"
7.675"
8.125"
8.125"
7.875"
8"
8"
7.875"
8"
8.25"
7.875"
8"
8.625"

Lots of variation already.  The last one is the step up to the 2nd floor with the laminate floated over the old linoleum.   I suspect some of the other variation is from the missing wedges.

MGB : I'm not sure I completely followed your question, about why I wouldn't cut new wedges for the stairs.  Wouldn't I need to get at the back of them to use wedges?   

I wasn't planning on removing the stringers.  I was expecting that I'd need to pull the old treads and risers out and replacing them with something new and unsplit or cracked.

Can you say more about engineered treads?  That sounds like a promising direction to look into.  Would this be something I'd have to cap with a laminate of some kind?

Thanks,
Adam



Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 2278
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2016, 03:14 PM »
Cork laminate right over it. They're doing some really nice feeling and looking cork. It's a nicer feel under your feet AND much more pet friendly. It's easier to relate too
But, he has odor still lingering at times. Do you think the odor can't sneak past the overlay of the Cork Laminate if he went that route?   [blink]
 To me, that would be the worst. You've added another layer on top of damaged, urine stained wood and now have that urine odor at times.
 Your thoughts on this?
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2016, 05:47 PM »
Thankfully, there are no odors with the floors.

I don't know if perhaps I've exaggerated their condition.  I think some parts are rough.. others are just old.   

I actually want to experiment with some oxalic acid on it sometime.   Last summer I was able to completely remove significant water damage to a mahogany end table with it.   It took about 4 applications, but the wood ended up looking quite nice and consistent. If it worked out, the monocoat should be easy to touch up.  Assuming, that is, the bleach doesn't interfere with anything else.

-Adam

Offline MGB

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Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2016, 02:36 PM »
MGB : I'm not sure I completely followed your question, about why I wouldn't cut new wedges for the stairs.  Wouldn't I need to get at the back of them to use wedges?   

I wasn't planning on removing the stringers.  I was expecting that I'd need to pull the old treads and risers out and replacing them with something new and unsplit or cracked.

Can you say more about engineered treads?  That sounds like a promising direction to look into.  Would this be something I'd have to cap with a laminate of some kind?

Thanks,
Adam

My misunderstanding. I missed the part about the stairs only being partial access.

An engineered tread would be 1" osb or ply. No cupping or cracking. You would then cover with carpet or laminate/hardwood.

As far as replacing treads/risers only. If it's a housed stringer like I'm gathering. It would be nearly impossible. Here's an example of how I believe your stairs are built.


Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 2278
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2016, 03:07 PM »
Thankfully, there are no odors with the floors.

I don't know if perhaps I've exaggerated their condition.  I think some parts are rough.. others are just old.   

I actually want to experiment with some oxalic acid on it sometime.   Last summer I was able to completely remove significant water damage to a mahogany end table with it.   It took about 4 applications, but the wood ended up looking quite nice and consistent. If it worked out, the monocoat should be easy to touch up.  Assuming, that is, the bleach doesn't interfere with anything else.

-Adam
  Sorry, I thought you had both stains and odor since you said things were oozing at times out of sections of the floor... [embarassed]
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 4010
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2016, 03:11 AM »
I always figure out the answer after the fact... It is usually cheaper "in time" to replace.

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2016, 09:55 PM »
I hear you, Holmz.

For me, I think it comes down to two things with the floor:

1. Not wanting to give up on something.
2. Wanting to  'win' at my game of making the house worth more than I put into it.  I don't know if that's mathematically probable anymore (too many surprises). 

-Adam

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 305
Re: At what point is it better to replace than repair?
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2016, 10:08 PM »


My misunderstanding. I missed the part about the stairs only being partial access.

An engineered tread would be 1" osb or ply. No cupping or cracking. You would then cover with carpet or laminate/hardwood.

As far as replacing treads/risers only. If it's a housed stringer like I'm gathering. It would be nearly impossible. Here's an example of how I believe your stairs are built.



That's exactly right - it's a housed stringer.  Initially, I was thinking that I would add 2x blocking material to the stringers to provide more surface for the tread to rest on.   I'm looking at those wedges and wondering if there is a way to get those in without access to the back of the staircase.   If I've removed all of the treads/risers, it seems like I should be able to either work up or down and knock wedges in?

-Adam