16 September 2011

Refurbished Flooring

Each time we "vacationed" home during the summer, there was one project that demanded our attention:  the dining room floor.  Since our time was extremely limited, what should have taken a few days drug on and on for months.  After tearing up each and every board, we removed the nails, scraped off the grime and fit it back together.  Once it was all laid back down, it was time for the finishing touches.
That meant sanding.  Heavy duty sanding.
After waiting nearly two weeks to rent a floor sander in Ames, we broke down and drove to Ankeny.  It ended up being cheaper which always thrills me.  It was an orbital-type sander, so all I had to do was slap on some sturdy sandpaper and hold tight.
The first couple of rounds were pretty rough.  Sometimes holding onto the sander was like riding a bucking bronco.  It would catch on an uneven piece of wood and go nuts.  The trick is to hold on to the massive machine until it wears down the rough spot and glides along the floor again.

We put in a few hours the first night after the girls went to bed.  We knew we were making progress when we'd empty the dust collector.  Mercifully, the sander had a vacuum attached so a majority of the dust was contained.

I started bright and early but it didn't take long for the whirring to wake up the kids.  It's not child labor if it isn't forced, right?
 (In case anyone's panicking and about to nominate me for Worst Mother of the Year, the machine wasn't actually on. Promise).
After all of the severe bumps wore down, it was just a matter of getting everything as smooth as glass.  That took a loooong time.  My feet got tired so I decided to scoot around behind the sander on a wheeled chair.  Well, at least until I stood up to get something and Evelyn stole it from me.
I spent nine grueling hours sanding away.  I was concerned that the sander would roar loud enough to require ear plugs but it wasn't any louder than my brand new vacuum cleaner.  The girls were able to nap through a good portion of the work or watch me from their seats as they ate meals.

When Evelyn could barely walk across it without slipping and falling, it was finished.  We went through several sheets of expensive sandpaper but it was all in the name of household beauty.
Evelyn helped me clean up while simultaneously entertaining herself (I love how easily children multitask) and we loaded the beast of a machine into the car.  Jack had been so thoughtful in making me a loading ramp but he failed to test it.  I ended up using my brute strength to shove it in.  Thank goodness I'm not a weeny.

The final debate: stain or no stain.  I'm not a fan of pale, jaundiced-looking pine flooring so I selected a light oak, promising myself I would not return to the store should I abhor the color.

It turned out looking nothing like the can claimed.  I gritted my teeth, sent picture messages to my mom and sister and decided . . .
. . . to let the wood do the talking.  There are some awesome pieces of wood with beautiful grain that just seemed a shame to hide.  Though the floor is light, I'm incredibly happy with how it opens up the room and really brings out the luminescence.
There were a few touch ups with some latex caulking that dries clear, but that was minor compared to what that wood has already been through.
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how well the floor turned out.  It's (mostly) finished!  It was a huge undertaking but it was time well spent.
Anything would look better than what it did, no?
I would have been the last to guess that there was such gorgeous material beneath that marred, lumpy facade.  In this case, I am more than happy to be absolutely wrong in my preconceived notions.

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