Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Saga of the Floors

I am a sucker for wood floors. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but there is nothing more beautiful to me than a well-put together room with a big, open expanse of wood flooring.

Which is why I'm driving myself a little crazy to rehabilitate the rather distressed original oak floors in the Box.

You see, the Box was built back in the days when "sub-flooring" meant "really thick tongue and groove hardwood," but sometime in its history some benighted soul put carpet (ugly, ugly puke green carpet) over the hardwood. The house has been a rental for at least the past 25 years, if not more (I'm still in the process of putting together more of the house's history - there was nothing enlightening on the title. Actually, more about the title later). In this case, being a rental meant not being taken particularly good care of for a number of years, unfortunately, and the owners let the roof go so long that it leaked all over the front room of the house. The standing water coupled with the carpet and foam from hell meant that a chemical reaction took place between the foam and the wood varnish, basically bonding the foam to the boards and petrifying the wood underneath. All of this combined to leave the floors looking like this when I bought the house:

And another for good measure:

The green stuff is the left over foam that stuck to the floor when they ripped out the old carpet. The people who were fixing up the house to sell it started sanding the foam off in parts because another prospective buyer wanted them to refinish the floor for him, but they gave it up as a bad job once the guy decided he didn't want the house. They were going to put carpet down through the whole house again, but when I signed the buyer contract I told them to leave it if they would knock a few thousand off their asking price. I've never liked carpet anyway, but I do love a challenge.

And it's been a challenge so far. We had to wipe down every bit of foam with a damp mop to saturate the foam to make it easier to scrape off, then we went over every, freaking inch of that floor with little plastic spatulas to scrape the gunk off. Here's an action shot:

Also, when they were painting the walls to get it ready to sell it they weren't particularly careful about the paint-drippage, so we (by "we" I mean my long-suffering boyfriend) had to get some paint off the floor without damaging the wood, too.

After getting all the foam and paint up, we rented a rotary sander and spent about 17 hours on the day after Christmas going over (and over, and over, and over) the floors, making sure we got as much of the varnish up as we possibly could. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this process, which is a shame because for at least a couple hours of that time I was "riding" the sander while Paul steered because we found that the extra weight helped on the damaged parts of the floor. I don't really recommend this because I had to be really careful not to stay on too long or the motor would start to overheat, and also because I almost got lobotomized by the ceiling fan, which hangs lower than I thought, but I'm sure it looked pretty comical.

The next step was to use a belt sander and palm sander to go around the edges of the room to get the places the rotary sander couldn't reach. I'm pretty much done with that stage at this point and now I'm using little metal hand scrapers to get the varnish out of the low-lying cracks between boards. I don't have pictures of that, either, but I'll take some next time I'm at it. In the meantime, here's a picture of the floors post-scraping the foam off, but pre-sanding. Much better than with all that nasty green stuff sticking around!


Anonymous said...

It's looking good, Bethan!! Mikey and I want more pictures, though. I can't wait to see CB when he's all put together!!

Love you!!!
*Mandy :)

Beth said...

Elizabeth - LOVE your CB!!! Your Mom, Joyce and I have driven by it all our lives, but I've never been inside. maybe they have? Who would have thought you would be the proud owner!! I'm very happy for you.
Aunt Beth