Saturday, February 11, 2012

Joe Makes Me Think

Joe The Floor Guy called Friday afternoon to say that he was coming by to look at the floors and give us some free advice.  I immediately began to worry and fret, and that became contagious.  By the time Joe got there an hour later, Charlie and I had convinced ourselves that we'd torn up the floors beyond repair, that we never should have started this stupid project, and that I'd be better off just covering it all up with carpet.

When Joe showed up he walked through all three rooms, took a look at the still-yucky floor in the other parlor, told us that there really isn't an easier way to get the glue up than to tediously scrape at it, and declared that we did a pretty good job. 

Then the trouble started.  Joe verified my opinion (and Mare's too) that these aren't the original floors.  "You have wide pine under this stuff," he said.  "What's on there now is red oak, but it's a cheap floor and not real thick.  It'll last awhile, though.  You know, you could take this stuff up and restore the original floors...."

I'd been thinking the same thing, remembering when Mare and I did just that on another old house he used to own. 

Charlie read my thoughts.  "Oh, no.  Hell, no.  If you're gonna do that, you're on your own.  I didn't go through all this sanding for you to pull it up."

"It would be a big pain in the ass," Joe said, "because it's all hand-nailed and you'd have to fill in all those holes."

"Like I did when I took off the outside of the house," I said brightly.  "I had to fill in billions of nail holes in the original clapboards."

"Oh, Lordy," said Charlie.

"Well yeah, compared to that this wouldn't be so bad.  We've refinished floors like that before and they look really good when they're done," said Joe.

"Oh, Lordy," said Charlie.

Joe continued, "If you're gettin that idea, what you need to do is go downstairs and look up at the floor from underneath to see how much patching and stuff there is.  It'd be a big job for you, but it'd bring back the original floors."

"I wonder if they raised the baseboard..." I mused, then looked at the wall closely. "Nope, looky here. You can see the seam between the plaster and the top of the baseboard. I bet only the shoe moulding was raised. That would mean I'd just have to pry that off, not the whole thing.  Oh, gosh, Joey, now you've got me thinking...Mrs. Kelly would be happy if I put back the original floors."

"Then Mrs. Kelly better come back from the dead and help you do all that," Charlie said.  I sense a mutiny.

Joe left laughing.  "Let me know what you decide."


  1. "Oh Lordy" -- good luck with your decision!

    Jean - MN

  2. My first thought was, they covered those floors for a reason.

    My second thought was, slap a finish on it and call it finished!

    My third thought was, a restoration purist would not be satisfied until they saw the original floor. And I have a feeling you will fall into that category.

  3. I'm not telling you what to do, but when we pulled the floor up in the dining room this weekend we found tar from one end to the other. New vinyl will be getting installed instead of refinishing the floors. As the saying goes, "You can't fix stupid."

  4. only one thing to do.... go to basement and look up the the floor to SMALLEST or biggest area, depending on how much you want to repair or replace (I would pick smallest!) and look up as Joe recommends. Drill a VERY small hole at the edge and see just how thin the "original" floor is before deciding to remove the present layer. Count whatever amount of nails you can see, triple that amount and you may have the amount holes you will have to repair. Considering you may find that you would need to sand again and make it even thinner, you might want to stay with what you have and save lots of heartache and backaches. Be cautious, Milah and Christine have said some wise things!

  5. Milah, That was my first thought...then I remembered thinking the same thing about the shingles on the outside of the house. Something tells me I won't be that lucky twice though. I'm probably sticking with the floors I've got.

    Christine, YIKES!!

    Anonymous, Scary stuff....good advice. Thanks.

  6. I think you'll be happy with the red oak floors. Once you drag all your furniture back in and throw down a rug or two, no one will know it's not the original.

  7. That's not exactly the word I used, but yeah, we'll go with that.

  8. My first impulse was go for it! But now I'm thinking the current floors are apparently quite nice, and you don't know what you'll find underneath. You can't find that out without ruining the current floors, yes?

    You can always change your mind later.

    I still haven't gotten over finding the original Douglas fir floors in the bathroom of my old house (I think I told this story before) when the vinyl was taken up to repair rotted wood by the toilet. But there was not enough undamaged wood to leave the fir exposed. I just about swooned when I saw the original floor, though. That bathroom must have been amazing.

  9. ooooh dilemma indeed.

    I think I would leave the floors you have. For one, you know they're all there. I can just imagine tearing up the existing oak and finding out 3/4 through a room that a large portion of the floor underneath is irreparably damaged or replaced with plywood, or something like that.

    It's one thing to tear up nasty carpet and cross your fingers that you can use what's underneath. It's quite another to tear up a floor you like in the hope there's something better underneath. You can always go spelunking when/if the oak does wear out.

    That's another thought - people put carpet and linoleum over wood floors because they decided they didn't want wood floors anymore. If they put a new wood floor over the old one, either they were just being extravagant, or there was something seriously wrong with that floor.

    Our house is going to end up having original floors in 5 rooms, and new oak over the old stuff in 3 rooms, because those three rooms just don't have enough floor to salvage.

    As for filling in nail holes? Pshaw. What are a few (thousand) nail holes?

  10. Honestly... I'm BADLY curious and will pick at almost anything, but there's no way on earth I'd take up a newly sanded oak floor in order to expose pine!

    Yes, pine can have some beautiful grain, but so does oak, and pine is a lot softer. Pine also tends to shrink much more than oak, so you'll likely find gaps all over the place, worst case something like 3/8". Not to mention the nail holes... this isn't like the siding where all patch work disappears under a few good coats of paint!

  11. I can't open the comments. Whats happening?

  12. Anonymous, I couldn't get to them earlier either, and now they're formatted in an entirely different way than before, which makes me think Blogger was doing some tweaking that somehow made comments temporarily unavailable.