Here’s to Your Next Eighty-Eight Years

THE RAVENNA HOUSE

Guys, our oak floors are 88 years old.  Eighty eight!  Yeah, that’s pretty old.

Sadly, they looked it.

When we pulled up the thick pink carpet that was covering them back in October, we found floors that had been warped with water, peed on by cats, tried by an earthquake and stomped/kicked/scratched by three generations of the original owner’s family.  It wasn’t hard to see just how much life these floors had seen.  But we needed to do something if they were going to see anymore.

So last week we had them professionally refinished.

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Did you catch that?

No not the boombox. I said professionally.  As in, we left a key under the mat and stayed away for three days.  Three gloriously, relaxing, uneventful days. We watched a couple episodes of The Walking Dead.  Played with Wilder.  Made chocolate pudding from scratch.  And all the while a crew of three guys patched, sanded, and put 3 coats of sweedish-style finish on our floors.  On day four, we returned to find our floors looking like this:

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Okay, okay, there was a little work for us to do before we went home to watch the Walking Dead.  Rewind a couple months and you’d see Garrett laying flooring patches where we had holes in the wood – one where we ripped up the old kitchen linoleum and another where the old oil furnace’s air return opening was (we put returns in the walls for the new gas furnace).  You can see a patch in the picture above.  The new wood is a little bit lighter then the original flooring.  This should even out with time, but we could have stained the whole floor darker if it bugged us.  But it didn’t.  I really like the rich tones and historic feel of the oak so we kept them stain-less.

Speaking of the new stuff, we ordered matching-width red oak flooring from Hardwood Industries.  Uncle Dougie hooked us up.   The man can match his wood species from a picture!  Yeah, a true rock star in my book.  We bought 100sf and Garrett laid it using our pneumatic flooring stapler in a day.

Next up were the stair treads, base shoe, and doors.  You could call these the things we did and the things we really should have done to prep the floors.  Let me lay it out for you in a list.

Tips: Prepping for a Professional Refinish on Your Hardwood Floors

  1. Remove the base shoe yourself.  We had the professional refinishes do this only to find out later that a couple were snapped in half and more than a couple were missing.
  2. Pull all of your interior doors off the hinge and LABEL them!  Label each door and  the frame it came from with matching numbers, letters, or a favorite phrase on a piece of blue tape.  Leave the pins in the hinges.  You’ll thank yourself later.
  3. Refinish the stair treads yourself.  I got a quote for $1600 to refinish 10 treads plus an additional $160 for the third coat.  We sanded and polyurethane-ed them ourselves. It took 3 days to sand them between each of the 4 coats of finish (maybe 4 hours in total), but only cost us about $60 on sanding pads and polyurethane.
  4. Have a third coat of finish put on.  I don’t know this from personal experience, but the experts I trust tell me that this will significantly improve the life of the floors, especially if you have a 9-month old baby and a 65lb dog running around (okay, you caught me, Wilder isn’t running around yet, but he’s definitely army crawling with the best of them!).
  5. Turn your furnace off before the professionals start.  This wasn’t a problem for us seeing as our new furnace wasn’t turning on and off without flipping the breaker.  Come to find out Garrett drilled through the thermostat wire and shorted it out, but that’s another story entirely.  You don’t want any moving air in the house while the finish dries, lest dust or other particles land in it and adhere permanently.
  6. Let the floors sit for at least 12 hours before busting in.  After the wait was up, we opened all of the windows and turned on the bathroom and kitchen fans to air out the slight smell.

So I’ve got to tell you that we have refinished floors ourselves before.  At the Wallingford House, it took us over two weeks and there was a rented-drum-sander-falling-out-of-the-back-of-a-truck-incident (always, ALWAYS get the Home Depot tool rental insurance) and the floors turned out okay.  Nothing to write home about, but okay.  To compare, the professional finish was cleaner (the professionals had a dust-less system which turned out to be about 95% dust-less), faster, and the final product was exponentially better.  At $4/sf, it was worth every penny.

It’s hard to even remember the floors we found last October! But here’s a small reminder:

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No more pink carpet.  No more water-stains.  No more pee smell.

All I can say is, hardwoods: here’s to your next eighty-eight years!

xoxo

p.s. Baby Wilder is 9 months old today and just learned how to make raspberries (aka farting noises) on mama.

p.p.s. I’m obsessed (OBSESSED!) with this kitchen remodel.

p.p.s. Hope you like the new site 🙂

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2 Comments

Comments

  1. love the kitchen love the floors the best finish EVER! satin waterborne BUT, the patch job in hall way will never “even out” not trying to be critical here but why wasn’t this laced in? the difference is one is plan sawn (modern)and the old is Quarter sawn (your houses era)This second was the way alot!of old flooring was used. I have sanded and finished thousands of these floors I ran a sanding business 30 yrs love WOOD if you refin other projects in your business theirs a way to test this so this error can be avoided by conselting w/a old floor people that have seen these wonderful jewels( Nice job)

    • Ah you caught that! We didn’t lace in the hallway floor because…get this…we were lazy! I know, awful answer, but it’s true. The air intake used to be there and we made a late decision to relocate it. Then we cut corners and didn’t lace in the floor. Of course I notice that patch everyday and it bothers me…I suppose it’s kharma!

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