We recently bought an older house (50+ years) with wood floors throughout. There are many areas in the flooring that have 1/8″ (or more) gaps between boards. I’ve considered using colored wood putty to fill them, but I’m not sure this is the right way to go.
What do you suggest? Thanks for your help. Kent.
You can fill the gaps before AND during the sanding of the floor. I only presume that you plan on sanding the floor to the bare wood. While it’s always best to fill gaps before you coarse sand a floor, you don’t always get them all. Before you do the medium grade sandpaper, fill all the spots you missed, with small amounts of filler. Just don’t goop it on this time as the medium paper will get clogged and become ineffective if it encounters too much filler. Don’t fill anymore after medium sanding, as the fine sandpaper clogs to easily.
My favorite filler for small gaps and holes is the Le Pages brand at http://www.LePageproducts.com/ProductCatalog/detail.asp?catid=25&subid=56& plid=305&PID=687.
That said, this is a colored latex filler of good quality, and can be uses for gaps up to 3/16″ and holes up to 1/4″. Choose a color that is a tad darker that your finished floor. As the floor darkens with age it will look better. You can mix the colors. Filler is no substitute for wood, so in loose gaps it won’t stay in long. And it you have gaps 1/4″ and wider you will need another method, tell me if this is so. Loose and squeaky boards can be re-nailed, tell me if you need to know this also.
Now once you have applied all but the last coat of finish on, you can still do a bit a spot filling with these tubes of filler. But you have to be sure to wipe all the excess off right away, or else it will dry as a smear on the finish. Wait 4 hours for it to dry before you coat for the last time. In the unlikely event you don’t plan on sanding and finishing the floor, you could try this also, but it will be very time consuming, and the filler won’t have a coat of finish on top to help keep it place. Best to wait until you ARE ready for sanding and refinishing before you attempt to fill it.
Unfortunately most of the commercial floor fillers sold in large buckets don’t stick to the wood very well, and crack out during the sanding. You can make up your own recipe if you have access to red oak fine edger dust, and I can tell you how.