Wood floor sanding, floor restoration and French polishing

“The details are not the details. They make the design.” Charles Eames

oak wood floor sanded and finished

Floor sanding and wood restoration in London, Surrey and South East

I am Toby Newell, your helpful floor restoration specialist with over 25 years experience in floor sanding, wood finishing and restoration.

My family have been wood finishing since the early 1900’s and I have a genuine interest and enthusiasm for my job. I especially enjoy working on older period properties.

I am based in Surrey and work both here, in London and the home counties. Occasionally my work takes me further around the UK and once in a while over the sea.


Toby Newell
25 September 2020

I have strictly self isolated from two weeks before the official lockdown until 24 July 2020. I have not visited any gym, pub, restaurant, any gathering inside or outside or used public transport since before the lockdown. I wear a mask as advised and try my best to be extra responsible.

Having lost months of revenue I continue to lose, for example, waiting for customer NHS test results that do not arrive in time causing more delays. I cannot afford to lose any more time.

I keep track of current events. I have zero confidence in the government and NHS to sort out testing before deep into 2021.

Going forward all customers will be asked for a deposit when booking. Those who self isolate after a deposit has been taken (and whose isolation will delay the job start date) will get the option of a full refund or for the job to be rearranged at the earliest opportunity.

In the mean time I reserve the right to book new jobs on the original agreed work start date to cover the delay.

If you or a household member are self isolating for any reason, or are waiting for a test and your job is arranged to start shortly, please inform me at the earliest available opportunity. We can then decide if your job requires delaying.

Being open, considerate and understanding we can all help each other overcome this challenge.

Rest assured I will endeavour to continue to navigate the situation as strictly and responsibly as I have done thus far.

Any questions, however trivial, are positively welcomed, at any time.

I understand the current circumstances are difficult for everyone and my best wishes go out to those whose families have been directly affected. 

Services offered

I work with all types of wooden floors from period pine floor boards to engineered oak planks and parquet. My machines are almost dustless and I aim to leave properties at least as clean as I found them. The services I provide include:

  1. Floor sanding, staining, colour matching and lacquering
  2. Listed and period floor repair including careful hand sanding
  3. Traditional oiling, waxing, shellacking and liming
  4. Hardwood, reclaimed and engineered wood floor installation
  5. French polishing, wood finishing and antique restoration
  6. Commercial floor sanding and wood finishing
  7. Furniture making

Being flexible is important. I work evenings, weekends and bank holidays to minimise disruption and aim to be helpful wherever I can.

To arrange a free viewing or estimate please call 07967 157605, or email me at tajnewell@gmail.com where I will be happy to discuss your project or any questions you have.

Small but perfectly formed

Most of the time I work by myself. If I require help on larger or commercial jobs I use experienced colleagues who are also my good friends. I do not use sub contract labour.

Hackney pine floor sanded, stained and finished

By undertaking the work myself or with trusted friends ensures all my jobs are completed to the same high standard. It is very rare we are required to snag or be called back.

Being naturally diligent, honest and hard working we can offer excellent value for money. We do not currently charge VAT.

Pine floors repaired using reclaimed timber

I always use reclaimed timbers for pine floor repairs. Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian and older floors can be hand sanded using smaller less powerful machines. This gentler process preserves as much original patination and character as possible.

Unique expertise in wood floor staining

Having trained and worked for many years as a professional French polisher and wood restorer I am lucky enough to be able to mix all my own wood stains. This means you don’t need to settle for whatever limited colour choice the shop sells.

I can mix pretty much any colour you want, using my colour box, and decades of practice. Even so, it’s still frequently challenging and therefore very rewarding.

Skilled colour matching of (sometimes) invisible floor repairs

Being a French polisher also means I can often colour match replaced timber, because that’s a large part of what polishers do. Can you spot the 10 new English oak boards from the 100 year old originals? I used 7 different colours to blend them in.

Transparent totally natural looking stains expertly applied

All the floor examples below were stained using a traditional process going back over a century. By adding subtle transparent tints in shellac layer by layer the floor stains look totally clear and natural.

Georgian Islington pine floor sanded and finished with sunlight

This technique can help avoid some of the patchiness which softer pine is prone to. Light tints work best.

Close up of sanded and finished Victorian pine floor

Sealing afterwards in a modern water based lacquer gives a smooth, extra matt, matt or satinised hard wearing surface. The shellac underneath imparting a warmth and depth that water based lacquers lack on their own.

Reclaimed pine floor with light finish

For a more traditional effect extra shellac can be applied and the floor simply waxed with beeswax and carnauba. The choice is up to you.

Reclaimed oak floor with light stain tint and matt lacquer

Customers often tell me their floors glow. The effect can sometimes look more like a naturally aged floor and not obviously artificially stained at all. This is what I constantly aim for.

Wide board oak floor with light tint in old stone cottage Wales

Our other wood finishing and restoration services

Floor sanding isn’t our only skill though. We also restore and finish doors, staircases, tables, kitchen worktops, panelled rooms and more.

To include the French polishing and restoration of antiques, handrails, beams, artwork and very occasionally, lions.

Period property restoration specialist

We are particularly experienced in the renovation and restoration of older period and listed properties. Properties as varied as a terraced house in Hackney, stone cottage in the Cotswolds or manor house in Cumbria.

All receive the same care and attention being interesting and quirky in their own unique ways.

Camerton Hall dining room with sanded and finished floor

As are landmark buildings including The Palace of Westminster and The Law Society.

The Law Society Common room with French Polishing to mahogany doors and fireplace
The Common Room. The Law Society, Chancery Lane. One of the UK’s largest mahogany panelled rooms. Cleaning and French polishing to doors and 18ft high fire surrounds.

Not in the South East? Not necessarily a problem

Sometimes it is hard to find local craft people with the appropriate skills and experience. Based in Surrey and having lived in London for many years much of my work is obviously here. Travelling around the M25 to the home counties is not always a problem.

Do you live somewhere else? I have also worked in Oxford, Cambridge, Gloucester, Norfolk, Wales, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Portsmouth and the Channel Islands. So if you are impressed with what you see please call me on 07967 157605 or email me at tajnewell@gmail.com. I enjoy travelling to new places and will do my best to assist.

I am flexible, staying in a local guest house, BnB or even at your property if you have the space. I am happy to commute up to 200 miles round trip every day depending upon journey time if accommodation is unavailable.

Hand finishing a speciality

Sculpting, scraping and hand sanding of floors for the ultimate finish. Whether very old, original period, reclaimed or even new timbers. Oiling, shellacking and waxing using traditional polishes and waxes.

Do you have original pine, oak or elm floor boards or a new floor that you want to look old? Then sanding and shaping (rolling) by hand can give a timeless traditional aged look. The effect works well with both modern and period interior designs.

We can even help you source naturally slow grown solid English oak or reclaimed timbers. These can be machined in board, strip or parquet form for floors, furniture and all interior woodwork.

400 year old reclaimed French oak from tank garrison, sanded, stained and waxed

No repair too small, or too big

From loose pine floor boards, parquet blocks and strips to restitching hearths, expertly colour and date matched reclaimed timber replacement. Joist levelling, strengthening and replacement including entire sub floor rebuilds and fitting reclaimed floors.

We use pressure treated C24 grade construction timber, high tensile screws and bolts, Finnish spruce WBP rated plywood and flexible high performance adhesives.

Lost head slim shank screws avoid vibration damage to lime plastered buildings, we use traditional cut floor brads and rosehead nails where required.

reclaimed pine floor fitted

We use rubber bitumen emulsion glue where appropriate on reclaimed bitumen glued blocks where all the bitumen cannot be removed.

pitch pine parquet restored Wimbledon

Commercial floor sanding and wood finishing

From The Ritz, The Marriott Grosvenor Square, The Hotel Intercontinental Hyde Park to The Palace of Westminster we have the on site commercial floor sanding experience.

Our large industrial machinery and dust extraction equipment enables us to complete large projects out of hours with minimum down time. Skilled staining and colour matching can give you the look you are after. Our knowledge of high traffic lacquers helps us to provide long term durability, often in excess of 10 years. This results in lower lifetime costs due to reduced need to shut down revenue generating areas and keeps your premises looking good, for longer.

medium oak stained restaurant floor
sanded and stained oak floor close up
London Marriott Grosvenor Square hotel ballroom floor sanded and finished

Furniture making and finishing

I also design and make bespoke furniture, restore and finish antiques and modern furniture by hand. I have worked on period antiques by Sheraton, Chippendale and Vulliamy.

Utilising such traditional materials as Van dyke walnut shell stains, rhubarb bleach, waxy button shellac, tung oil, carnauba and beeswax. Traditional pigment colours mixed to match original finishes. Raw Sienna, burnt Turkey umbers, titanic white, vegetable black, rose pink, orange chrome and spirit chrysoidine amongst others.

Author - Toby Newell
Author – Toby Newell

French polisher and floor sander with over 25 years of experience in the industry. I started working with my Grandfather in 1986 aged 15. I constantly try to improve my knowledge and skills. Read Materials Engineering in Sheffield and attended the London College of Furniture. Have City and Guilds certificates in both Wood Finishing and Antique Restoration. I specialise in restoring period timber, staining and colour matching. I have published a number of articles on wood restoration and give advice on forums and to people worldwide via email. I always try my best to be honest, open and helpful.

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