12 April 2012

Layer Upon Layer

Evelyn:  Ever willing to help!
It was painfully apparent when we laid eyes on the kitchen floor that something would have to be done.  After a hundred years, it was slightly crooked and had been redone innumerable times, the previous workers slapping layer upon layer of new flooring atop the old.  By the time we took our first tour, it looked like someone had ripped up linoleum from a layer of subflooring, not bothering to remove the rough patches of dried glue before slopping a deep brown paint over the top.
Not a lot of people look up (and in the kitchen, they would've had a real treat, seeing the cracking and patchy plaster, tubes of newly installed waterlines, drains and air ducts) but just about everyone looks down.  Most people were polite enough to keep their horror to themselves.  However, it's almost comical watching the faces of visitors during their initial visit.  Expressions are very telling.

So, when the kitchen came up on our list of rooms to renovate, we arranged a set of cabinets snatched off of Craigslist, rerouted the water and inserted recessed lighting over the countertops.  In every room, the poor floor always has to wait until last.
At first, Jack and I thought we could remove the painted subfloor and sand the planks that lay beneath.  Closer inspection made it obvious that it wasn't a good idea.  While weighing our options--buying tile, linoleum or hardwood floor--Jack decided to try his hand at floor making.  Our barn hayloft still had several good pieces of wood left so he made a few floorboards and wedged them into the corner.
Jack was still in Cedar Rapids on his first internship when he decided to begin the kitchen floor while Evelyn and I stayed behind, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Claire and working at ISU during the day and scrambling to get other projects done on the house at night.  We did our best to avoid stubbing our toes on the unfinished floor but thanks to the width of the wood, the project went quickly.  Over a few weekends when Jack was back home, the floor went from downright atrocious to lovely.
We tried a layer of polyurethane but when we perused the stain and finishing isle at the hardware store, we decided to buy a product that's used on bartops--it's thick, glossy and hard so instead of having to put multiple layers of polyurethane, it took one.
There are still a few imperfections here and there but the kitchen floor is now the most frequently complimented improvement to our house.  Thank goodness it turned out so beautifully or I'd be enduring a few more shocked grimaces as guests entered.  Phew!
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