How we restore

PATIENTLY RESTORING CENTURIES-OLD TIMBER  

Restoration is at the heart of the Ted Todd business; it’s where we started, how we grew and where we learned the skills required make such elegant wood floors. The culmination of this experience allows us to share with our clients wood floors with the true character and provenance of a bygone era.

The restoration work undertaken is always guided by the nature of the wood itself. Every single beam, floorboard and piece acquired is carefully assessed and selected by our restoration team before the process can begin.

The woods we restore are salvaged globally and this ever-decreasing supply of rare wood is unlikely to be available again. The buildings we source these rare finds from are often old properties constructed prior to and during the Industrial Revolution. We’ve reclaimed genuine antique Burmese teak floorboards from Asia and salvaged beams which were used as bomb defences and located in ceiling of the Old War Office in Whitehall, London.

Old-growth timbers

The lives of these timbers would have begun in an old-growth forest over half a millennia ago, where trees were allowed to mature naturally without human intervention or forestation.  The canopy would have been full and limited light would have influenced the trees to grow at a much slower rate than in modern day forests.  Ultimately a wood floor produced using these materials will be very stable and harder wearing than a wood floor using the same materials from modern day forests.

Patient restorers with decades of experience

Old floors that have had many years of use are rarely found in a good condition. Restoring old wood is a specialist craft that requires a comprehensive set of knowledge: of wood history, saw milling, cleaning, finishing and polishing. Before restoration begins, a lot of questions need answering:

  • What format will be best suited to this timber?
  • How will it be cut?
  • Will it be engineered for use over underfloor heating or will it be a solid wood floor?
  • What can we do to maintain the integrity of the wood?
  • How will this floor be re-used?
  • Will it need extra protection for a busy commercial application?

Once we have a better understanding of the requirements for this reclaimed timber, the restoration process can begin and this comprises of a number of stages

1. De-nailing

When the lumber arrives at our restoration centre, it’s often in thick, large beams dotted with huge, hand forged nails that have been used to hold the wood in place for a number of years. De-nailing the timber by hand is essential to prevent machinery damage at a later stage. This is an incredibly skilled process as it’s vital that the wood doesn’t split or obtain further damage. The nails used in the wood offer up details of the timber’s past life and the era in which the building where the wood was salvaged from was built.

2. Slicing The Beam

After all de-nailing has taken place, the beams and boards are carefully selected before being band sawn into 8mm veneers. We always try to maintain the original face and features, as this wood can be used for different applications, such as wall cladding, in the future. The 8mm veneers are then put into stick to allow air to flow between the facings.

3. Drying

Once the timber has been sliced into veneers they are carefully dried using humidity controlled kilns, which allows heat to penetrate the wood and for any moisture to evaporate. The kiln drying process kills off any woodworm and damp that may have infested the wood previously.

4. Machine Processing - engineering

Once dried, the veneers are sanded flat to create a bonding face.  Each piece is then glued before being paired with 100% birch plywood where it is pressed together to create the engineered floorboard.

Any product defects are marked and cut out before finally being cut to width and profiled with a tongue & groove for easy installation at a later date.

5. Preparation – hand sanding and restoring the patina

Rather than erase signs of a previous life, we work hard to restore the original patina and ensure that we don’t over-restore the wood. We don’t use any machines during this stage and all sanding is done by hand. The undulations of an antique wood floor are impossible to replicate and hard to define, a genuine antique wood floor has a lot of ‘movement’ and sanding these floors with a machine would wipe away the features that make it so characterful. Each piece of wood holds within it a history, stories that are gently revealed during the restoration process.

6. Finishing - giving centuries-old wood a new lease of life

Rather than apply a finish that changes the physical appearance of our reclaimed and antique wood, we choose to finish our floors to look traditionally authentic and in keeping with the original patina. To protect the surface of the wood, we slowly burnish (and burnish again) the wood to a lustrous finish. Unlike mass produced flooring, our reclaimed floors have a lot of original shape and movement and because of this they have to be finished by hand. All of the finishes applied to our floors are durable and easy to maintain, ensuring that these beautiful antique floors last a lifetime.

7. Available for delivery

Our restoration process is thorough and unrivalled, producing unmatched classic floorboards and intricate parquetry. Each restoration process is different and our work is built to far outlast the clients who commission it. Restoring an antique floor can usually take between 4-6 weeks from order to delivery, depending on quantity though – for a small quantity of reclaimed or antique wood, this process can be quicker.

Explore our portfolio of restored antique and reclaimed wood floors and discover floors destined to be adored for decades to come.

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