The Cary'd Away Legend

Those old wood floors though Main Photo

Those old wood floors though


How to refinish and when to declare them
Posted: April 22, 2019 by Stephanie Claar


When I first unveiled the wood planks from underneath the not very old, but very used carpet in our project on 3rd Ave in Twin Falls, ID, I was gitty. Like a child on Christmas or like when they hear the ice cream truck from a distance. I even remember hearing Brandon say something like "Steph you are like a kid. I see work; you see results." MANNNNNN were we BOTH right! 

1) The picture in the "featured image" of this entry is a picture of the toughest piece of this floor puzzle. No literally, it was like a puzzle! There were 3 places in the dining room floor that had been simply cut out with a skill saw. Leaving tons of cut marks in the otherwise flawless pieces around the missing pieces. Aside from this spot in the dining area, though, there wasn't anything that needed patching..... Until we got to the entry. 

2) The entry had been tiled over with what you'll hear often from me as, "Home Depot Special". It was not done properly, nor was the front door install and thus the wood underneath was all but ruined next to the door. They were too far gone to save. Due to the awkward transitions in the thresholds there wasn't a good place to pull the plug. As much as it pained me to admit we decided to "get two birds stoned" as Brandon always says.... and removed the wood floor in the entryway and entry coat closet to salvage the wood for the patch in the dining room. This method requires so very much patience. So, really, if you begin to get frustrated... this is one of those moments you stand up and admit defeat for the day and go have a burger at the closest local diner. Come back to it later. 

**Note: we tiled the entry by laying down backer board and laying a new charcoal tile.



^ This picture is "after" the patch was completed. I know right!?! Like, TA-DA! 




3) And so began the really hard part. Pulling ALL the nails and removing the screws, vacuuming, pulling all the nails and removing the screws again. Vacuuming again. REPEAT. Until the floor was prepped and ready for sanding. ** Note: the most important part is to be very sure you are not going to rip the paper with a nail or a screw. It is so frangible that the very slightest edge will send you straight back to installing new paper. This is both time consuming and expensive. 


4) We used a drum sander at first with the grittiest paper we could get our hands on. Went over the entire floor twice (vacuuming in between). **Note:Keeping a very steady pace is key here in this step. 



As you can see in the last picture (post drum sander) there was
A) still the remains of the edges 
&
B) a haze on the floor that appeared to leave the floor looking "dirty" 

5) On the edges, at first, we used a power tool that we purchased called an "oscillating tool". Even if you don't think you have a reason for this tool.... get one... it's my favorite tool that we own. We even stepped up our game and bought a corded one so the battery juice doesn't wear out.... google it. So many uses! After so many hours and several blades in. Brandon began his research and discovered the "edger". This sander is a rotating circular sander that allows you to get very close to the edges. **Note: keep in mind that the alternative here is to remove all the trim work and reapply after the drum sanding to avoid needing an edger. However, I did not want to disturb the plaster walls and risk cracking by removing and renailing the trim work.

**Note: This was the moment that we had "game changer" #1. Half a day's work with the edger and we were ready for the next step. This edger also took off the last of the VERY sticky icky back glue residue that would only gum up with EVERY other method or start fire....
  

6) The next step should have been to polly (apply polyurethane) the floors but due to our "dirty haze" look, I just didn't feel ready to seal it. Home depot we went.... I found a "wood ager" at home depot and it was a water based product that would have been best applied with a squeegee. I used a foam roller and sort-of floated it around on the floor. This brought the rest of the floor to match the haze color vs me fighting to get the rest of the floor to match the haze. **Note: game changer #2 

7) Polly was applied with the first coat. Followed by a light sanding. Coat #2 of polly and WALLAH! 

This process was TOUGH! So much that my forearms were sore for a few days and then my hamstrings and then my lower back.... It challenges you physically but also mentally at some point between step 4 and step 5 I posted this on my instagram after finishing the night out on my own while Brandon had to head out for his night: 

There are a lot of moments that make me remember how lucky I am to have found the partner that I have in my life.... he doesn’t always share the same high energy crazy dreams that I have but he ALWAYS supports them! When everyone tells him that the easy way is one thing and I tell him the most rewarding way is another... he listens to ME! I made it out with the crown jewel! ?? ?? ?? thank you @bcary32 thank you for it all! The beautiful babies, the beautiful life & having my back even when you would rather tell me no! Tonight as I set the sander down and my whole body wanted to jump in a cold lake I realized how nuts I am and how he must be as nuts about me as I am him! ??

I will likely say this a few times, but home construction is not for everyone. It is certainly not for every couple to do together and I say that not to sound like we have it all figured out; we have those moments. I say that because all couples have their strengths and weaknesses. This gig we have going on seems to play to our strengths and that is why I think it works.

Just like, I know for a fact, that Brandon and I could not go on a cross country road trip together. We will fly or we will not see Maine or Atlantic City. For reasons that would not play to our strengths. 

(See the CaryGirls instagram for before and afters of this full project.)

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