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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Refinishing Our 100-Year-Old Floors

Oh, hello friends. It's been a minute since we've posted any house updates. And that's really because we've just been plugging away at finishing our guest room. I originally planned to wait until the whole room was done to show you our refinished floors upstairs, but decided I was too excited. So today, I'm showing you our newly refinished guest room floors, and sharing what the process was like to bring them back to life.

When we started to conceptualize the design of this room, we went back and forth on the floors a lot. It originally had carpeting, and after peeling back a corner one day shortly after moving in, we saw painted hardwoods. We were so new to the whole house thing that we just made a mental note of them, and then really didn't think much of it. Once we started to work on the guest bathroom, we had to rip all the carpeting out of this room anyway, and saw that the hardwoods under here were actually rather amazing. 

When we started to work on these floors, they were gapping a lot, had been painted a mixture of brown and pea-soup green, and we were baffled as to how to fix them. I have to give serious props to Josh here because he did almost all the research and work on these. And my friends, let me tell you, he did some serious research. 

The floor after peeling back the carpeting.



What did he find? Well, for starters, these were likely original to the house. Based on the kinds of nails we were finding in them, he was able to pin point a timeframe of 1870-1900. Previous owners, as well as the two of us, think our house dates back to the Civil War era, so it definitely made sense. The floors are also pine, so not technically a hardwood, I know, but for the sake of making things easier on myself, I'll probably keep referring them to hardwoods. 

The original nails that were used for the floors.



Once we realized these were probably original to the house, it killed me that they had been painted and covered in carpeting. I get that not everyone likes hardwoods, especially in bedrooms, but these floors are gorgeous! They're beautiful, wide planks, and show the history of the house. So, our work began to refinish them, and bring them back to their glory. 

Josh started by carefully getting the boards up from the joists. We debated just living with the sizable gaps between the planks, or ripping them up and starting over again, but we knew we wanted to do this the right way. Just getting these things off the joists was quite the project because of the huge nails they used back in the day. It took a while and a lot of muscle.

Josh had to install a couple of extra joists, and also laid down a good subfloor before re-installing the boards. Also, I helped with the subfloor. I do things, too, you know :)

Getting one of the new joists into place.





The subfloor all done!
Then, he began sanding. He had a sample of the wood tested for lead since there were so many layers of paint, and of course, it came back positive. He also did a lot of research to decide between using chemicals to strip the paint versus sanding the paint down. We really wanted to avoid the use of harsh chemicals, so we were glad to find that sanding was actually the preferred method for a variety of reasons. To us, it made the most sense to sand down the paint because you have to sand the boards after using the chemicals anyway. So, it just seemed logical, and also, we got to avoid using chemicals. 

Josh ran out to buy a special mask and belt sander, and took each of the boards outside to sand off all the paint. He had to start with a rough grit to just get the paint off, and then had to go back over each board with a fine grit to smooth them all out. He said he saw at least four different colors of paint: white, red, brown and green.





Then, we had to decide if it was worth it to fill in the nail holes with wood filler (see nail hole in above photo). We actually didn't decide this until just before we put them back onto the subfloor because this would domino into another question - are we staining the planks? We also went back and forth on this, and here is what we decided: 

I stained a test board a few different colors. I used all light colors from Minwax, and they all came out way darker than expected because, well, that's just the nature of soft wood. I knew from staining a lot of pine over these past two years that this would happen, but I had to do it just for peace of mind that this wasn't the best option for us. I wanted the floors to be light, so we just decided to not stain them at all. Which also led to us deciding not to fill in the nail holes because we wouldn't be able to stain them the same color as the rest of the board. Therefore, making them super obvious. Now that the floors are installed, I'm actually so happy we didn't fill in the nail holes. This decision allowed us to maintain their character, and gave them a more rustic look, which is what we both wanted. 

My test board for staining. I tried Puritan Pine and Golden Pecan from Minwax,
and they both turned out dark and red (and also, pretty much the same color).
After that, these little guys were ready to go back down to the floor, and Josh nailed them into place with a special floor nailer to make sure they were secure.



We have yet to seal them with poly because we decided to wait until the rest of the room was completely done. For now, they'll get covered in plastic tarps while we finish drywalling, priming and painting the room. The very last step will be to seal the floors, and let them cure before we move all the furniture in.

iPhone pano photo of the floors installed.




We look at the floors now, and can't believe what a difference it makes, and it was worth every second of work. There's good news and bad news with these floors, too. The good news is that these hardwoods are underneath all our current carpeting and flooring on the original side of our house (so, all our bedrooms - except the master, which is already done, the upstairs hallway, the staircase, the two downstairs living areas and the downstairs main entryway. The bad news? We have to repeat this process in every single one of those spaces. And, it'll be totally worth it.

The rest of the guest room? We estimate it will be done by Thanksgiving. Josh actually has some extra vacation days this year, so he plans to take a few days off work to make sure this room gets finished just in time for the holidays. And, even though I had a design in mind for this since pretty much right after we moved in, I created a new design just for the Christmas/Winter seasons, and I'm way, way too excited about it. I may want to sleep in here during the month of December. 

9 comments:

  1. They will be beautiful!! Y'all do amazing work.

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  2. What great work! I admire you both! If you made it a bed and breakfast I'd be your first guest!

    So much history and character, I love it 😍

    Shirley

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    1. I used to want to run a B&B (mostly, just to decorate it) :) Thank you so much for reading.

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  3. Such beautiful progress on your home 🙂. Always look forward to seeing the posts and what projects and ideas you and Josh have. Have a great day !!

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    1. You're too kind - thank you so much :)

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  4. Wow I can't what a world of difference it made. I never understood why people paint hardwood floors (any color except white) What a WORLD of difference it made. And Bravo to all the hard long work you both put into it!!

    -Yolanda aka violasphere

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    1. Thank you, Yolanda! It really does make huge a huge difference, right?

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  5. It's amazing to think that people would have the bad judgement to cover these beautiful floors, but just think that they were being preserved for you guys! They are gorgeous.

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