2005 Guide to Home Repair: Floors

Universal Floors is a family affair. The company was started by South T. Lynn after his return from World War II. He was inspired by his father's service to Washington as an architect at the US Capitol. Now South's two sons, South Jr. and Sprigg, run the

They Know Wood: The Lynn Family, Universal Floors

"We've worked for every president since Eisenhower," Sprigg Lynn says. "But most of our jobs are for the average homeowner."

Universal specializes in restoring old floors. Lynn says many wood floors in Washington are more than 100 years old, so it's important to match the type of wood to repair them properly.

"A lot of these old floors in theembassies, at the Treasury, at the Supreme Court are ones they don't produce anymore," Lynn says. "So we produce them at our shop."

One way to obtain old wood for repairs is to take them from a house that's being demolished. Universal often saves wood, particularly rare flooring, that it tears out of an old home. "When we see a house that's ready to be demolished, it's like a sunken treasure ship," he says.

Universal is working on a three-year restoration at the Supreme Court and is restoring floors at the State Department. For these and other jobs, being in the business so many years has its advantages.

"We'll walk into jobs with floors that were installed 50 years ago," Lynn says. "And we'll know what kind of wood it is because our family installed it."

Homeowner tips: It's important to know what kind of wood a floor is made of–there are different cleaning methods for different woods. Wipe up spills with a damp cloth, then dry the area immediately. If you have waxed floors, use caution and avoid too much water. For heel or scuff marks, put wood-floor cleaner on a cloth and rub lightly. Regular sweeping with a horsehair broom is another way to keep floors in good shape.

Rugs protect floors in high-traffic areas, but make sure they are not rubber-backed. Pick up rugs now and then to clean underneath and allow the floor to breathe. Felt floor protectors on furniture legs are a good idea and should be cleaned and replaced every once in a while.

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