Thursday, September 6, 2007

The original flooring is dead. Long live the floor.

We think we're nearly ready to pull the plug on all our hopes of restoring our dining room floor. We were so excited a few months ago when we realized that there was original wood flooring under the dining room's nasty carpet. But it's wasn't exactly the fairy tale that others get to live, of pulling back carpet to find a beautiful condition original floor underneath. This floor wasn't in great condition, and we think there's a good chance that we'll never get it to even decent condition, particularly relative to the money and work we'd be sinking into it, because
  • it was never finished to begin with
  • it's probably much lower quality wood, meant as simply a subfloor to the linoleum that was in that room when it was originally the kitchen, the 30's version of a plywood subfloor
  • it can't be refinished until days and days and days of backbreaking scraping are done to take up the glue and felt from the old linoleum (floor refinishers won't touch it until every bit is gone)
  • we can't tell how badly it might be stained under all that felt and glue (it was a kitchen, after all, and a kitchen that had a fire no less)
  • there are a whole bunch of holes where water pipes and drain pipes and radiator pipes poked through the floor that would have to be patched
  • there is about 5sq ft that is missing and just has plywood in its place.
Add all those together, and it just seems not worth the effort. Not cost effective, not time effective, and no guarantees that I wouldn't slit my wrists with a floor scraper before we were 1/4 of the way done.

So we haven't said our final goodbye's or made our final decision yet, but the I think we're hearing the death rattle. I'm investigating other flooring - just to help us make a decision. I've emailed someone who, a few months ago, had a good price on salvaged heart pine - just in case we decide to go that way.

If we end up giving up on the original floor, I'll be sad but I won't mourn for long. I'll be too busy arguing with V over the fact that we absolutely positively could not even consider the possibility of putting back that badly stained 1x6 construction-grade lumber that the PO's used as "baseboards" throughout the house, not on top of newly refinished floors. No way, uh-uh, fuhgedaboudit. I will sneak out in the middle of the night and bring it all to the landfill if I must, in order to keep it from going back up in that dining room. V doesn't even fully realize yet that the battle lines have been firmly drawn on this issue and I WILL emerge victorious. But she'll be ok being the conquered one once she sees how nice it will look with baseboards that actually look good.

8 comments:

Robin said...

We refinished a never-before-finished heart pine floor last summer. I used Soygel to scrape up all the old carpet adhesive and miscellaneous yuck on it. Then we sanded and shellacked it. There are dark spots that persisted through all of that. But since it is just our TV room (the one the kids play in most, too), I don't mind the imperfections. It was a metric ton of work, though.

I hope you are happy with your result, whatever you decide. And be careful-- knitting is a demanding mistress. ;)

Lara said...

I feel your pain. We had a similar issue with our kitchen floor, we ended up sanding right away and not bothering to scrape up the lino - glue. It turned out great! You can see photo's at my website under the photo albums titled "House Of Hell kitchen"
Hope it helps :-)
ps, check out our knitting obsession!

Lara said...

guess it would help if I left the web address. It doesn't show up for some reason?
www.stealthgeeksobsess.typepad.com

Georgetown House said...

The problem we face with what's down on our floor is the felt. The glue itself is water soluble (we tried several strippers and solvents but nothing worked better than water), but that only means that it comes up a little easier when wet down. But because of the fibers in the felt, sanding it off just isn't an option - not only does it immediately gunk up the sanding pads, according to both pros I talked to, it immediately gunks up the machine itself. My feeling is that if the pros aren't willing to touch it with a machine (the horror in their voices once they determined it was felt was clear!), then we can't realistically expect to do so, either.

I'm just bummed.

(oh, and glad to be making more knitting friends! I"m going to need all the inspiration I can get - my desire is far greater than my skills or aptitude, that's for sure!)

Anonymous said...

We had an issue with a pine floor with lino felt glued on top too. We wet scraped for 2 weeks,and the floor underneath was stained and unfinished. We painted it white with porch paint, and it looks great. Its easier to clean than you would think, we just mop it. We wet the felt down with water to scrape it off, and then removed the adhesive with Diff wallpaper paste remover, which worked great.

Lara said...

Bummer, I guess the felt reeks more havok than the glue. Good luck. Be sure to post photo's of the project.

EGE said...

Hey GH that sucks but I understand -- I like anonyumous's idea of painting it, though. But I also understand it might not be everybody's taste -- especially when you were dreaming of hardwood.

PS Did you know you got tagged at blogher? Dig it: http://blogher.org/bringing-labor-labor-day

Dara said...

From experience, I'd say you have two viable options:

1) let hot, soapy water do the work for the first 2 hours, then bring along with as many friends as you can convince to spend a couple of hours on their hands and knees. Get a floor guy to remove the plywood patch, sand and refinish, or just paint the floor (porch paint and you can stencil around the edges or do painted "tiles").

2) rip the whole thing out and put down Bellawood from Lumber Liquidators. Don't do the laminate route: most of it doesn't stand up to kids and pets and lots of cleaning (the edges curl up).