Finished, Except Not Quite

Dad applied the finish to the floors. The pictures aren’t fantastic because a) I had to shoot jpg, not RAW, b) I used a flash and c) my computer isn’t set up, so I’m stuck using Microsoft’s basic picture editor.

Living Room (Recoated)

Office (Refinished)

There had been a huge splotch of white paint, as well as a few footprints in white paint, on the dining room floor. I think I did a pretty good job of getting rid of it with Oops!. You can still see a tiny bit if you’re crawling around on the floor, but I’m not sure when anyone will be doing that.

Dining Room (Recoated)

Dining Room Paint?

I am so excited about the upstairs bedrooms. The color is a rich, golden brown. The scratches and dents look great under the color—it looks like an old, well-used floor.

When I walk over the floor in the mornings or evenings, and the sun is streaming through the windows, the light plays off of the grain. It looks like I’m walking over tiger’s eye stones.


Upstairs (Smaller Bedroom)

There are some imperfections. But I am so happy that Dad and I did this ourselves. Plus, the average cost of refinishing is $4/sq ft in our area and I will take imperfections in the interest of saving thousands of dollars!

The final layer of polyurethane went on Monday. Since we needed to let it dry before moving furniture or painting, we stayed in a hotel for two nights and enjoyed not working on the house. Then we went back to wall prep (again…so tired of wall prep). Hopefully, we’ll start painting soon!


For the office (main bedroom downstairs), I bought “natural” stain. My dad teased me about it. He said he’d never seen anyone use natural stain before, but when the stain went on, we were both really pleased with the color.

Of course, this was about the moment that I realized I had forgotten to finish edge sanding the office! Whoops.

Office Floor in Natural Stain

We used about 1 1/2 quarts of stain in the office (two coats). We mixed the remaining natural color with three quarts of golden oak (one shade darker) and started applying the stain in the closet upstairs.

Even though the stain was only one shade darker, it came off much, much darker than downstairs. Dad and I briefly considered using a different color stain, but decided to go with it. I suspect the wood upstairs is a different kind than downstairs, and that affected how the stain put out. (Our neighbor, who is in the building business, says it’s likely the main floor is white oak and the upper floor is red oak.)

After doing one coat of stain, we mixed one more quart of golden oak in, and did a second coat.


Stained Closet Upstairs

I really liked the look of the stain when it had finished drying. It brought out pet stains as well as the grain. The grain is so pretty!

Office, Dry

Upstairs, Dry

Larger Upstairs Bedroom, Dry

Finally, the stairs. The stairs were in really good shape, but ended up with a lot of little dings due to my Evil Rise Staple Removal Project. Dad suggested we go for a “distressed” look, so we picked up Old English Scratch Cover and rubbed that onto the stairs. It soaked into the nicks and dings and Good Man and I are really happy with how it turned out! Because the stairs are already rather slippery, we decided not to recoat them. We also left the banister, which is worn perfectly smooth from years of use, unfinished.


Sand and Dust and Grit

We spent the first week in the house living in our old apartment. Dad and I went over to the house daily. We fixed nail pops, did wall prep, painted the ceilings, and ripped out the carpet upstairs and downstairs.

Once all of the carpet and staples were up, we started getting really dirty…

Four Pad Random Orbital Sander

Using a Random Orbital Sander Around the Edges

Never-Ending Dust and Grit

I swept and swept, but it seemed like the dust would never end! A friend from work came over and just swept while Dad used the four-pad sander and I edge sanded. She said she didn’t feel very useful, but I was getting blisters from sweeping (Mother would be so proud!), and she saved us a lot of time!

The next day, I brought my vacuum over, and that was a much better idea.

Upstairs After Sanding

In the living room, dining room, and hallway, we just scuffed the finish on the floors so we could recoat the floors.

Scuffed Living Room

The upstairs floors had been in really poor shape. We found divots in the floors from previous refinishing, and a lot of deep gouges and scratches.

Dad and I decided to sand down to bare wood, but to leave deep scratches and gouges in the interest of saving wood. It wasn’t worth it to sacrifice a lot of wood to get rid of the scratches.

Now, we would just need to see how it would stain…

Scratch in Upstairs Closet

First Night

First night in the new house.

Splayed out on the office floor and admired the light reflected on my arms—really shiny floors!

Used our outdoor brick BBQ and a cast iron skillet to make brats and baked beans with Dad.

Slept on a plastic-covered futon in the basement with Dad ten feet away. So romantic!


Painter’s Tape Mystery

As I was crawling around on the floor in the dining room (something I’ve been doing a lot of lately), I found some paint along the baseboard. I used my 5-in-1 to scrape it off. I did find it strange that the back of paint was pale blue.

I kept scraping and discovered that at some point someone put painter’s tape on the floor. Then they painted, hitting the tape. OK.

And then they put baseboard over the painted tape. Except parts of the painted tape extend past the baseboards. I pulled out complete chunks, so this isn’t a case of the very edge of the tape being put under the baseboard. The baseboard was put over the tape.

I can’t figure out why anyone would go through the hassle of putting painter’s tape down, but not the relatively quick work of taking it up.

Quiet Promises

Written December 31st, 2011

I stood in the middle of the living room with my hands on my hips. I glared at Good Man, not saying anything.

“I know,” he said.

I could hear—and feel—three different types of music. Our neighbor was blasting his video game. Our downstairs neighbor was blasting Pandora. Our upstairs neighbor was blasting a song with some reused beat that makes me crazy.

“Promise me that come next New Year’s Eve, we will be out of here or ‘this close’ to being out of here.”

Good Man patted me on the back, “I promise.”


So we haven’t spent the night in the house yet. But my dad and I have been working there all week, and our neighborhood is quiet. People are out walking their dogs, kids are skateboarding, people are gardening, and families are laughing in their backyards. It’s not a sterile neighborhood, but it is quiet.

During work, I was blasting some music from the upper floor. I could hear it in the basement. Sound travels in our house. But when I went to check the mail? I couldn’t hear it at all.

After living with shared walls all of my adult life, I know I will really enjoy this change!

Water and Fire: Learning to Read a House

Dad tossed a screw at me. “This came from the closet track. See how rusted that is?”


“This house had some sort of water damage. That’s why they replaced the roof. People don’t usually replace the roof before they get damage.”


Ripping the carpet and pad out of the office was easy (especially since the room isn’t oddly shaped like the upstairs bedrooms are). Taking off the tack strip and quarter-trim, however, was a different story.

We had noticed that the quarter round trim in this room was a good 1/4″ off the floor. That wasn’t true for any other room in the house. I wondered if the trim had been applied after the carpet, but the carpet’s date was 2010 (the same as the carpet upstairs), so that didn’t make too much sense.

The tack strip and quarter trim kept splintering. The nails were stuck fast to the floor, and when I did manage to get them out, they were rusted. Also, the tack strip was a different brand than the stuff upstairs.

“Hey Dad, if you install carpet, can you reuse your old tack strip?”


“I think this room was carpeted before. They added the quarter-trim to this carpeted room when they added it to the rest of the house, which is why it’s off of the floor. And the tack strips are rusted because of the past water damage.”

Sure enough, in the closet I found bit of dark, dark blue carpet under the quarter trim. I felt like a successful detective.


When I pulled back the carpet in the office, my eyes immediately went to this.

Not a Pet Stain

Although it doesn’t show in the photo, there is a small hole burnt straight through, so you can see the basement floor.

At first, I thought someone had dropped a cigarette or something. But then I went into the basement and discovered it had been burnt from below.

The white concrete in this photo is the area where the breaker box is. Was someone balancing a candle on the ledge? Hiding the smell of something illicit, perhaps?

Fire Starter

They burned entirely through the subfloor, and the circle is about as big as the side of my fist.




The floors in the office are in much better shape than the ones upstairs. There is a bit of a snakeskin pattern when the floor is viewed at the correct angle. I think this is probably from the blue carpet’s carpet pad. It’s actually kind of neat.

Snakeskin Pattern

Good Man came over from wok yesterday, saw the floors, and started dancing.

Good Man Dances

Removing Staples

Then I put him to work removing staples. They had used those tiny rise staples in the closet (why?), and they were a pain to get out.

Good Man Does Some Work

Office Floor, All Cleaned Up

Finally, all of the carpet in the house has been removed!

Waiting for Trash Day

House: Carpet

“I don’t understand why anyone would use carpet. I abhor carpet,” Good Man said.

I do, too. So I started ripping out the carpet in the house. I knew the carpet was covering wood floors, and I was pretty sure the carpet pad was stapled down instead of glued down.

Upstairs Bedroom, Carpet Removed

Upstairs Bedroom II

Upstairs Floors, Stapleless (Mostly)

The stairs were probably the most fun to rip apart since I didn’t have to stop often to cut the carpet into smaller pieces.


What was not fun about the stairs were the staples on the rise. Ugh, those evil staples! I bought an awl and used that to get a corner loose. Then I hammered a punch under the staple, and used that to loosen the staple.

Today, a friend came over to help out. She ripped all of the quarter-trim off of the floors upstairs while I worked on the stairs. She was done while I was still working on the third step.


The 5-in-1 made fairly quick work of the anti-skid junk at the top of the stairs.

Good Man came to the house Wednesday after work. I think he likes it.

Happy Good Man