Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saving a Hardwood Floor

Once the wainscot was removed from the piano room we found ourselves starting the renovation again from scratch.  This time we decided to start from the bottom up and began with the floor.

The floor had always been an issue but we had been choosing to ignore it up to this point so I guess it was a good thing that we were forced to do something about it.  If we go back to the original photo of this room you will notice there is a large carpet that has been cut to exactly fit the room, with a one foot border around the perimeter.

Carpeting was custom cut to fit the room
When we first saw this room we were very excited, believing we could pull up the carpet and expose the original hardwood floor underneath.

However, when we pulled the carpet up we found this.


The good news is that it is the original floor.  The boards are narrow, free of knots and very long.  It also has the worn and rolling contours that only years of foot traffic can provide to a floor like this.  The bad news is it had some major problems.

The first issue was that only the perimeter of the floor had been stained.  If we wanted the floor a uniform colour we would have to sand the whole thing and then stain it again.  The second issue was there was a reason the whole floor had not been stained.  When this house had sat vacant for many years there had been water damage and this floor was part of that damage.  Large water spots were visible across the room and numerous boards were actually rotten.  A simple sanding was not going to fix these problems.  To make matters worse the carpet that had been laid down to hide these issues was a real carpet.  Not a rug.  Carpeting has foam backing that provides an extra layer of comfort when fixed to a floor.  However, in this case the carpet was sitting loosely on the floor and had been there many years.  The foam backing had begun to break down and was actually stuck to the floor boards.

Foam from the carpet backing had to be scraped by hand off the hardwood
Our first impression wasn't good.  The floor was not in great condition and required plenty of work to make it usable.  It needed cleaning and sanding.  Rotting boards would have to be replaced.  A new finish would have to be found.  We weren't sure this was the answer.  Floors throughout the house needed replacement and we considered simply ripping this wood out and putting in new floors throughout.  We had some tough questions to answer about what we wanted the house to look like, if we wanted to save this original feature, and what the changes might cost.   A new floor would solve some problems throughout the house but it would also mean losing something we prized, an original hardwood floor.

When looking at homes to buy we had viewed another farmhouse that had painted softwood floors.  We had greatly admired those floors and wondered if we could do the same.  It would cover up the water stains and replacement boards and would add a dash of colour to the room.  If we didn't like the results we could always rip the floor out completely.  We decided to paint.

The first step to prepare the floor was scraping off the bits of foam from the carpeting.  We spent hours with small scrapers completing this job.  Next the rotted boards had to be removed.  This wasn't an easy task to accomplish but luckily Jody is pretty handy with tools and knows a thing or two when it comes to wood.  

You can see where the new boards are in the lower portion of the photo
Individual boards were cut and pried out of the floor.  Then custom cut boards were fitted into the open spaces.  The new boards were very visible when seen next to the old boards.  A simple stain would never have disguised them so paint was a good solution to this issue.  Once the new boards were installed the entire floor was sanded.  This was necessary to remove the stain in preparation for painting but it was also necessary as the newly fitted floorboards literally stuck out from the old boards.  You could feel their newly cut corners with your feet when compared to the smooth contours of the old floor so extra effort was made to sand those edges down.

Then finally we were ready for paint.

20 comments:

  1. I love your renovation story :) I should put pictures up of our house some time. Floors are interesting. We have original pine boards. Most of it is in good condition but in the kitchen there was water damage.

    Just on a side note I was surprised when I opened my recent issue of Saltacapes to see the stereo that I had seen here on you blog, the very one your husband designed :) Good for him!!!!

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    1. How great that you get the East Coast magazines. A wonderful way to 'visit' when you can't be here in person. This is the second year Jody has made it into the magazine and I couldn't be prouder. He's got some talent that boy.

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  2. I would not thought of painting the floor. Very interesting. When we moved out of our house in VA, there was a large water mark under the mermaid... unbeknownst to us. The crew came in and resanded the floor and restained and polyed it, good as new.

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    1. I had never seen a floor painted before we saw it in that other house but it was one of those things where you think - why didn't I think of that? A shot of colour, easy to clean and you still get that old floor feeling.

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  3. What a job. Always more than you anticipate, always a BIG JOB when you renovate anything.

    I am dying to see the painted floor (and I know it's not white. . . .)

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    1. Laurrie, if there's anything we've learned along the way it's that the job is ALWAYS bigger than anticipated. So many unexpected issues along the way.

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  4. So much work! Hardwood floors are lovely - ours is reclaimed hardwood that Martin yanked up back West and lugged all the way here!

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    1. my goodness Kim you guys were loaded down when you came out here - that beautiful sink and flooring!! You must have had the house planned before you left already?

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  5. I knew a couple once who had done the same thing re varnishing the surround and putting a large rug (theirs was a rug) over the less than perfect middle of the floor, flooring like the roof is such a big and important part of a home, Marguerite no wonder you had little time for the garden with work (as in going out to work) and all this work in the home, looking forward to seeing the finished floor, Frances

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    1. I manage to keep rather busy :) but it's all things I like to do. The garden is relaxing to me and the house is a labour of love.

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  6. I also can't wait to see the painted floor. I love that look,too. We took a room that had wall-to-wall carpet going down one 3-foot section and ripped it up. The rest was old hardwood oak. We added new under the carpeted area and sanded the entire thing bare and had it restained. Came out brand new and you can hardly tell where the old was and the new started. But I still like a painted floor.

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    1. How lucky to find those floors under the carpeting! You must be thrilled with the floor now. I would have liked the floors as they were originally but the paint has been a fun compromise as I got to play with colour.

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  7. A labour of love, lots and lots of labour! Thank goodness Jody knows what he's doing. I would have done anything to save the floor too - those features mean a lot to me. Happily I know the happy ending to this adventure!

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    1. I've thought the same thing many times! (that Jody knows what he's doing) Without his know how and ability to learn what he doesn't know we'd be lost in this house.

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  9. Nice job! One of our clients actually sanded down the floor he found under his carpet and floated vinyl right on top of that. Our best hardwood flooring solution would be to rip everything out and install a brand new floor, but your technique is pretty impressive too!

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  10. It's good that you replaced the rotten wood with new and stronger ones. Not only is it more affordable, it's also less time consuming than replacing the whole floor. I read your following post about painting hardwood floors, and I love the deep red color made the room more vivid!

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