This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Discovering my floor

A while back we decided it was time to rip up the ancient carpet in most of our downstairs and restore whatever floor was beneath it. Like many of our home-improvement plans, it had no definite date, which meant that it could be done anytime in the next five years. However, a couple months ago one of my sons decided that he and his wife would come to Rensselaer and help us complete this project during his wife's spring break. (She teaches Kindergarten.)

When March arrived, I decided it would be smart to see what was under the carpet that had been in the house since we bought it in the 1970s. I pulled back a corner and found a hardwood floor (probably maple). The carpet was kept down by a tack strip along the wall. Under the carpet was a pad that was stapled along its edges. I found that removing the tack strip and pulling out the staples was not beyond my level of competence.
The plan was for my son to come on a Wednesday, move the furniture, pull up the carpet, sand the floor, stain the floor, put down a polyurethane finish, apply shoe molding where it had been removed to install the carpet, and then move back the furniture. I began to realize that not all of this could be done in the allotted time, so I needed to do as much prep work as I could.

(The electrical outlet that you can see in the above picture is part of another home-improvement project--rewiring. That is also an adventure full of unexpected discoveries, which is the reason it is not in the wall, and may be the subject of some future post. Or maybe not.)

Pulling up the old carpet revealed some surprises. There must have been a rug over part of the floor because it had less finish on it and was lighter in color. (You can see that part of the floor on the left.) Between the two main rooms a section of the old floor seems to have been removed and replaced with boards that are a bit narrower than the old floor.
I got most of the furniture moved and all the carpet out of the house by the time my son arrived on Wednesday. The patched section of floor extended into the dining room, and it did not join smoothly to the old floor but was depressed. There was some folded newspaper (not shown) dated 1967 that smoothed the transition so it would not be noticeable in the carpeted floor. My guess is that is when the carpet was installed. It was a very good carpet and the installation seemed to have been done very well.
After my son and his wife arrived, we finished moving the furniture and finished all the prep work.

The next step was to sand the floor, which we did on Thursday. There are two businesses in Rensselaer that rent floor sanders, Superior and Big Dog. There are also two kinds of sanders, drum and random orbit. The drum sanders take off wood faster, but require more skill. The random orbit sanders take of less wood, but are easier for amateurs to operate. We went with the random orbit sander, and because only Big Dog had one, that is where we got it. The rental is not cheap, but is still a good deal when you look at how much a floor sander costs.
The sander has four rotating disks to which the sanding pads attach. It is very heavy and kind of goes where it wants to go. The normal procedure is to use a coarse paper for the first few passes, and then to finish up with a finer grit. The sawdust is extremely fine--it has the feel of flour.

The next step was to stain the floor. The center of the floor, the part that had been the palest, picked up the stain better than the edges. By the time we got to this step, another son and his wife had joined us, so the staining went very fast. It needed to dry over night.
On Friday we applied three coats of polyurethane. It went on faster with a pad than with brushes. This was a rather slow day because it took a couple hours for the polyurethane to dry enough so we could apply another coat.
The hardest job on Saturday was to apply shoe molding, a rounded board that covers the gap between the base molding and the floor. My son brought some tools that helped a lot (my tool box is quite primitive) and he is very talented working in wood. I let him and his brother do the work, which involved a lot of cuts to make it fit just right.
We got the last of the heavy furniture moved back on Sunday morning shortly before our four helpers had to leave. It will take us another week or two to finish re-arranging all the things that had to be moved.

So if you were wondering why my posts have been short and superficial for the past couple weeks, this project is the primary reason.

By the way, Superior no longer has its bike sign, and Big Dog has its annual open house on April 28 from 10:00 until 2:00.


reMark said...

I knew this would be a post some time. I saw two of your "boys" cutting shoe molding outside your place Saturday morning. Thanks for the pics.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on accomplishing this huge project. It will make you smile for years to come. I do not have the where with all to do that to our old floors.