Chemical Stripping With Citristrip and Painting Old Hardwood Floor


I just read your article on chemical refinishing, and now feel absolutely overwhelmed and hopeless about redoing my floors. My floors are heart pine, very old, and in bad condition scrapes, scratches, stains, worn thin. I want to make my house livable and the floors better, but I can t afford sanding (even if the floors are thick enough to take sanding). More important, I can t move out of my house for several days for the process.

Is there a way I can paint my floors that will be less involved than the chemical stripping and refinishing ? Anything you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.


Richmond, VA


Dear Susan

Don’t give up on chemical stripping the floor yet. You really should buy a small bottle of the Citristrip and do a test patch. Every floor is different, and some really old finishes come right off without so much of a whimper.

Even if you wanted to paint the floor (not a bad idea) it’s always best to get down to the bare wood, so that the paint primer can really stick to the wood. It’s really disappointing to see a painted floor that has chips of paint coming off on all the high use areas, exposing the darker old varnished wood underneath. Ask any paint contractor, it’s hard to get new paint to stick to old varnish.

But if you really want to paint the floor without stripping I would suggest you clean the floor of any old wax with naphtha (or simply paint thinner). Then scrub it well with a solution of TSP and warm water. Let the floor dry for a few days, and then use an appropriate paint primer. A good paint store can better guide you through the prep than I, and suggest a durable paint to use. Good Luck in whatever method you use.