You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2008.

I added the images to the first entry on the floor sanding. Feel a little silly as having seen the finish sanding on those areas, they look so much better than they even did at that stage.

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(no, really, it’s not that)

So, yesterday, they laid and poly’d the last piece of floor – yay, right?

Well, maybe not so much. See, I didn’t think they’d get to it quite yet, and my herb starts (you know, from *february*?) were upstairs… and needed watering. So, our bathroom has one door to the bedroom (which had been done earlier and was dry), and one to the dining room by the stairs, and we figured we could, with a bit of acrobatics, jump from the bathroom door to the bottom step without touching the fresh poly in the dining room.

See, those childhood ‘don’t touch the lava’ games were training for real life skills.

But wait, it gets better than that. We could have gotten to the bedroom – except that in a rare feat for us, we locked the front door. And as all our knobs are on the flaky side, we use the deadbolts. So, that just got harder.

A little thought, and M realized there was a third way into the bathroom. They’d installed a cabinet that backed into the basement stairwell, the back of which was pulling off and needed replacing anyway. (it was, get this, a piece of sheetrock finish-nailed to the wood as the only structural backing in the cabinet). Off it came, out came the shelves, and there we were. M, undeterred that he had to essentially leap the stairwell to get there, entered the bathroom, unlocked the door, and up we went!

The floors do look very nice, though the stain doesn’t really match what it was previously – the grain is darker and the places between lighter. I’m guessing this is evidence of a non-penetrating type stain in the past? The new floor blends in well enough which was a worry. Personally, I think that the scribbly-twisty grain in the new stuff makes the old look that much better, while M prefers the tight, crack-free fit of the new.

Other, more mundane, but probably useful activities involved finally beginning to organize the tools and ‘miscellaneous house parts’ in a manner conductive to living in the house, rather than just working there.

Also, we found someone willing to install a 12×12 vinyl floor for under $1000. Which saves us from a nasty, gluey mess diy-ing the room that was supposed to be the ‘cheap and easy’ one.

This weekend, we’ll probably start – dare I say it? – moving things.

(though we won’t move in until the kitchen vinyl is in – probably a two to three week wait on the materials)

Over the past few months, we’ve contacted probably close to a dozen flooring contractors. Including the big name renovation company that never returned my calls, the lady who spewed her personal problems all over us, the general good-old-boy fix it man related in some way to the neighbors, and the countless others who either couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t want to put nice, new flooring (preferably pre-finished) over that nasty old stuff, or gave us vague assurances, that, yeah, they could run their big sander machine over it and see what happened. We’ve finally found someone we reasonably trusted to deal with them, someone who seemed to understand the difference between old pine and both modern hardwoods and new pine (warning, irony coming), who didn’t need us to countersink all 5 bazillion top nails, or perfectly shim all the ends before he started. Of all things, this was guy was recommended by the person who sold us our water softener. But he was the best we’d found in a very long hunt, and we wanted them done.

He started Monday. We went by that evening to look at what had been done. There was this terrible anticipation driving out. Would the wood beneath be worth it under the nasty finish? Would there be giant cracks and gashes and terrible things he’d done to it without us there to say not to? Granted, that’s a little extreme, but the floors were my baby in this house, the one thing we were to afraid to touch ourselves for fear we might irrevocably mess them up, and I desperately wanted them to not, well, be ruined.

Well, the result is: I love my floors. I’m such a dork, because I took a ton of pictures, and put them on the computer, and touches them up, but I didn’t upload them, and now I can’t get them. But I love my floors.

They are smooth, and gorgeous, and the grain is straight and wonderful, and the boards thick, the blemishes gone, the cracks more even and less noticeable, the patches effective and seamless.

office

There are these eight boards that reach all the way across the office room that are just abso-crazy beautiful. All 7″ wide, with barely a swirl in the grain. Identical. Probably cut from the same tree. I counted the grain on one and there are 94 rings. They’re my favorites.

nice board

Oh, and they aren’t pine (remember my irony warning?). They are, instead, wide-plank OAK subfloors. Red Oak. It’s beautiful. For once, there is something in this house that isn’t just a ‘well, we think plaster walls are cool’ or ‘neat and good enough’ but really, truly, great. ‘Original 100 year old wide-plank oak floors – newly refinished’. That could go in a MLS listing and make just about anyone drool.

finish coming off

They still need stain (the natural look just doesn’t match the dark trim), so I’m still nervous like a parent sending her kid away to camp that things will turn out, but things are looking up.

finish coming off 2

p.s. We also still need to install new in the dining room (we decided so much of it was bad that it made more sense to use it for patches elsewhere than to try to fix it up), but the discovery of the red oak means it will be much easier to match.

Laura at (not so) Urban Hennery posted about shocking her well, and I realized we actually *have* been doing something at the house, it’s just been so slow it doesn’t feel like progress.

Anyway, I’d never heard of shocking wells before we moved here. Apparently, you throw a bunch of chlorine down them a couple times a year to get rid of iron bacteria. Most of the neighbors in our area do it, and we wanted to start as fresh as we could before replacing the softener, so we went ahead and gave it a shot.

We bought an ‘official’ kit from a local water softener office. I think chlorine is chlorine as far as effectiveness is concerned, but the granules were easier to deal with than liquid, and we wanted good instructions and measurements the first time through.

The process was pretty simple. Pour the chlorine down the well, run the water with the hose going back into the well for a while to get it distributed, then run the faucets in the house until you smell chlorine. Then wait. We’d thought it was a 24 hour process or something, but apparently you only want to do 8 or so to avoid damaging the pump. Then you run the water again until it doesn’t smell like chlorine (a few hours).

That’s where we got a little scare. When we ran the water afterwards, it stayed cloudy even after the smell went away. We’d had a hard time getting the water to clear after installing the new pump, and were afraid again of having to drill a new well if it didn’t clear. We let it run overnight into the yard, which was what we’d done when the pump was being installed (thank goodness all this is going on during a wet spring, not a summer drought). Thankfully, in the morning it was better. It really seemed to knock a lot of crud out of the pipes – grit and strange colored water would come out of the faucet when you cycled the water for some time, but a couple minutes standing at the sink turning the water on and off seems to have fixed it for good.

And I am such a convert. The water here used to be *nasty*. I know well water, I don’t have a problem with it. M’s family has some pretty icky well water, and I can deal with it, even when it turns my toenails orange from showering. This water was nasty. It smelled horrible, iron and sulfur and just nasty. Tasting even a drop off your wet finger was not advisable. B – A – D. After, it just tastes like well water. Still not yummy well water like my grandmother’s, but you could drink it, if you were thirsty. It was a good experiment.

In other news, we’ve found a guy to do the floor who actually seemed to recognize that there was a difference between our old-growth pine, and normal hardwood or modern pine. And, he was willing to do the prep like countersinking the top nailing and other things we’re not sure about himself. There was another company specific to old house restoration that we were considering, but given that after two calls, they still can’t call us back to schedule an estimate, I guess they don’t really need the business.

Now we just have to decide whether to sacrifice the upstairs, or the dining room to get patch boards. The dining room would be a better choice, as it is large and in poor shape, but it would require a pretty big transition from old to new wood between it and the office. We’re trying to decide whether that would look too strange.