Restoring old wooden floors
in a Victorian house


Floors: MINE!!! Hurrah!! Slippers: Jigsaw

Ah my dear readers. Finally, we made it – the floors are done and I no longer have to breathe dust like a crazy dust-breathing dragon any more.

It’s very exciting. And I’ve loved seeing the transformation, day by day… I wanted to write a post to explain what we did, how we did it and give you some tips, should you be thinking of doing something similar to your home.

We’ve always loved the look of old natural wood as flooring and so when we found our house in Walthamstow, we held our breath and prayed that beneath the carpets would be original wood… (it’s crackers that you can go through the house purchasing process and no one is obligated to tell you what’s under the carpets!)



A few weeks ago we began the dusty process of pulling up the carpets. This is surprisingly more easy than you might imagine. You need a good pair of protective gloves (those gripper rods are evil) a Stanley knife, some duct tape and ideally, a dust mask.


We used the screw drivers to help lift the carpet away from the wood so we could cut the carpet with the knife, without damaging the stairs



Underneath the carpet was 90% original flooring, with various new planks dotted about, with quite a few “bodged bits” – Ryan’s words. You’ll meet Ryan in a minute.


Here’s a bodged bit.


Oh and here’s a damaged plank. There were quite a few of those.


When you pull up the carpets, keep in mind how you plan to dispose of it afterwards. We had arranged a collection with our local council, but they would only collect 5 rolls at a time, and each roll had to be less than 6ft long. So we cut our carpet and underlay into one strip at a time and rolled a few layers up together, securing the roll with Duct Tape.


Once we’d pulled up all the carpets, we could call someone to get a proper quote for all the work – we wanted all the damaged boards and new boards replaced with original reclaimed pine boards (as per the original boards already there)… and for all the floors and stairs to be sanded down, stained and varnished.

Tames Flooring had come highly recommended and so I dropped them a line. Ryan, the owner, popped round that week and as soon as he arrived we knew we were in safe hands. He’d not been through the door for 10 seconds before he was doing some kind of Irish Jig on our floors (apparently he was testing them and feeling for joists and things… but I’m sticking with Irish Jig).





We left these nasty gripper rods for Ryan to take up.

He explained what he intended do and was very keen to manage our expectations, which we both really appreciated. One thing we didn’t realise was that due to the way the stairs had been painted, with a strip left down the middle, meant that there would always be a contrast there. (I thought this was because the paint had damaged the sides, but in fact, the lead paint the Victorians used, actually protected the wood! The stairs were actually more damaged where there’d been no paint).


Floorboards repaired, replaced and sanded!


This is the contrast I was talking about – it will always be there and will be visible unless you stain with a dark enough colour.


The stain is ON!

We knew what kind of look we wanted, but couldn’t find a stain anywhere that matched what we had in our brains. So Ryan mixed up a walnut stain with some black – we did 6 parts to 1, and it turned out exactly as we had hoped.


With the first coat of varnish…




You can barely see the contrast due to the shade of the stain we picked



My chest of drawers has never looked so gorgeous. These Elizabeth Dot Design drawers are from Etsy.

We are beyond thrilled with the results. The job took 7 full days, but our stairs were incredibly fiddly – we have an unusual amount of spindles! Ryan was amazed at how long it took – he usually estimates between 2 – 3 days for stairs, and ours took longer. But I’m so grateful to him for not cutting corners and even though it took him longer than expected, he didn’t charge us any more than he originally quoted.


What weren’t we expecting? The DUST!! Sanding floorboards generates more dust than you can possibly imagine. If we did it again, I would  lock everything I own in a room, shut all the doors and go and stay with friends for the duration. We didn’t do this and I suspect we’ll be cleaning up the dust for many months to come – it really does get everywhere! I’ve also managed to inhale rather a lot of it, so I’ve had a horrid cough for a couple of days… but not any more ;)

I never would have attempted to do any of this by myself – having watched Ryan and his team work, it’s clear this is specialist work. The floors and stairs have been meticulously worked on and now have been stained to perfection.

Thank you Ryan – we’re looking forward to having you back to do the downstairs at some point! Just need to fill up that piggy bank again ;)


Ryan said “NO WATER, POPPY!” And suggested the Bona Wood Floor Spray Mop, which comes with its own special cartridge of magic potion, to clean your floors and keep them protected. I’ve bought one and it’s my new favourite thing.

Tames Flooring

See my side return extension work here – proper building work! With a big smash up! Grown up stuff…

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19 thoughts on “Restoring old wooden floors
in a Victorian house

  1. I’m finding this so interesting! I never knew there could be wood underneath the carpets! Although to be fair I’m not sure what I thought would be under there haha. I can’t wait to one day have my own house and make it my own – yours is looking very snazzy already! x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

  2. Great relief to find your website! Our stairs has that stain in the middle, what you ve done with the dark stain is just perfect!
    Did you mix the varnish with black floor paint?

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what we did. And we tried out different ratios on bits of wood before committing to the one we went with. It worked perfectly.

  3. What a shame we were not aware of your project. Woodoc offers a simple system to customise the finish with 32 colours (which you can mix) and the stains are added directly to our floor products. Woodoc doesn’t peal or crack and wears naturally so if there is an area of high traffic which might worn more you can just touch it up. Visit our website for more info or call 01223 655 686

  4. Love your final results! We just pulled up all the carpets in the house yesterday, and the flooring boards underneath are not in great condition, some with big gaps between the planks. Hopefully they can still be restored as beautifully as yours. A few of my concerns at the moment, really appreciate if you can share your experience.
    1. We have a baby just learnt how to crawl, the floorboards have lots of metal nails on, so my hubby is worried that the baby will get hurt!
    2. Did you put the insulation underneath the floorboards? Do you find it noisy when walking on the floor? With a young kid in the house, we are not sure whether we can stand the noise level without any sound proofing methods

  5. Looks gorgeous but varnish does not look after the wood and needs redoing. Best thing for original flooring is a quality carnauba and beeswax like Briwax.

  6. Hi there, thanks so much for sharing the lovely pics and how to info! My new pine floor will be bought already sanded ready to
    lay and for us to treat ourselves. Do you still think we need to clean it first before the oil? Thanks xx

  7. Hi, this post was helpful as I have a very similar project, old Victorian house and iv stripped up the carpet which looks like yours did before you got it looking beautiful. Thank you. My question is, how much am I looking to roughly spend As I am pretty much wanting get do exactly the same work done!

  8. Hi. This is weirdly exactly what we are looking to do to our house.. in Walthamstow! And we want to achieve this same dark colour. Would you mind telling me the brand of walnut stain and black stain you used? And the varnish? Thank you!

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