Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shine On

After our very, very long weekend of sanding and staining, we were super excited to get to what we had heard was the fast part . . . the polyurethane. Thankfully this time the estimates were right and we got each of the 2 layers of finish down in about an hour a piece. With much help from our friend and seasoned home renovator, Greg laid the first layer on Sunday afternoon. We let that dry for the major part of the week and the second and final coat went down after a good buffing on Thursday or Friday evening. The dry time would probably be faster for anyone who wasn't doing this in the cold temps of January.

Before each layer we had to meticulously vacuum and wipe the floors with tack cloth to get every speck off the floor so as to not encapsulate any trash in the finish.

By this step in the progress our minds were long gone and I don't think we even brought our camera out to the house so all of these are from our cell phones. Classy, I know. But we have some before and afters and that's the best part anyway!

We chose a satin finish for the poly. We wanted a little bit of shine to show off the floors and the grain, but we didn't want something so shiny that the slightest smudge was obvious. We have been super pleased with the satin so far.

Greg pouring the poly on the floor. As he would pour, Mr. McCoy, whom I don't have a picture of, would come behind with a lamb's wool applicator and spread it, seamlessly, over the floors.

The dining room with coat numero uno.

Side by side before and after. Can you believe the transformation?

The hallway after the first coat of polyurethane had time to dry. Keep in mind it's from my cell phone . . . in real life the shine is even.
And with that, our hardwood floors were done! We let the final coat dry for about a week before we did much walking on them. Though it was hard to take a break from the house with our long to-do list hanging over our heads, it was nice to have a normal life for a week. We needed that forced break!

Sanding - 19 hours (35 if you count our individual contributions)
Staining - 10 hours (or 20)
Finishing - 5 (or 10)
Total - 34 or 65 hours

Cost - $400 (approximately, our Lowe's receipts are combined with so many supplies for various projects)

Totally worth the sleep we forfeited. Especially when we look at the floors and think, "We did that!"
One more time . . . so beautiful!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Color in the Lines

I hope you all realize that this blog is definitely not being written in anything close to real time.  We have been spending all of our "free time" working at the house leaving no time to do much of anything else.  I felt the need to point that out so people aren't thinking, "Well, no wonder they haven't moved in yet.  Lazy bums . . ." Not that ya'll would think that, you are much nicer, I'm sure.

So, back to a month ago.  After sanding for an entire day, we got about an hour of sleep and headed back to start staining.  Staining, that's quick, we should have it done in half of a day, right?  Haha.  Ridiculous that we even thought that.  We had stained plenty before, but always furniture.  I'm going to blame the time estimate on our complete lack of sleep.  So thankful that neither one of us is a doctor. 

We chose Minwax's Dark Walnut as our stain color.  Greg tends to prefer medium wood tones, cherry especially, and I tend to lean towards really dark wood colors like espresso or ebony finishes.  This was a good compromise.  A dark enough stain to achieve a rich color that I wanted but you can see the grain and it has a bit of a honey tone to it when the natural light hits it.  

We had read lots of blogs and articles on staining floors and the method we decided upon ended up working really, really well.  I would stain 2x2 foot square outlines on the floor and then Greg would come behind with a lambs wool pad and fill in the square.  This allowed us to work across room in a methodical way (you have to be careful to always stain with the grain of the wood and work towards an exit) and ensure that the rows blended well together.  Using the brush where the rows met instead of the lambs wool meant I could feather the stain at the seam instead of the thicker coat the pad left.  

And somehow we didn't get any pictures of the next step (we were either rushing or delirious), but it's highly important.  After we let the stain sit for about 5-10 minutes on each row we took clean, white rags and wiped off the excess (again, going with the grain).  This ensures an even color and further allows you to feather between rows.  This step is why you can't just paint it all on really fast and be done in half a day.  You have to make sure you are not staining father than you can reach to wipe it off.  We also found it was helpful to have one person (Greg) do all the wiping so that the pressure was even throughout the room.
Finished bedroom, unfinished hallway. 

Master bedroom with stain, no polyurethane yet.

The living room.  You can't even tell where the seam of the replacement wood is.  Notice how the finish is still a really rough finish.

The hallway coming out of the kitchen.
Contrary to our 1/2 day plan (again, hahaha) we finished up around 8 that night.  About 9 or 10 hours of staining for approximately 1000 square feet (we took a couple breaks for food).  We left feeling completely worn out but really, really excited at the incredible change from only 48 hours ago!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sand Man

Now, the fun part! Friday morning, Greg drove on over to Lowes, picked up the 200+ lb beast and got to work sanding all of the finish, ancient mastic, and water and, gross, pet stains up off the hardwoods. I joined him around 11 when I was able to pass Zach off to my mom. Vacuuming with Zach is a challenge, I can't imagine him chasing the sander around trying to jump on it for a ride . . . that and all the dust not being a great environment for baby lungs.

This is Greg sanding Zach's room. It took a little over an hour to sand that room (about 120 square feet). We had to stop the machine every 15 minutes or so to check the sand pads and scrape off any melted wood filler from the previous finish, empty the dust catcher or replace the sand pads.
Look at that! All the junk came right up!

Changing out the sanding pads . . . which we had to do every 20-30 min as they would wear down.

My turn . . . much more fun than scooting around on your knees sanding the edges with a palm sander, though I did my fair share of that, too.
It took us a good 9 hours to do the first round of sanding with the 36 grit sand paper. It was certainly slow, but effective.

We took a break for dinner, transferred Zach from one set of grandparents to the other, and ran by Lowe's for a few things (including a work lamp for the living room since there's no overhead lighting in that room) then got back to work around 8. We had the machine for a 24 hour rental and hoped to power through the next 2 rounds of sanding (50 and 80 grit) by morning so we could return the machine by 7am and also start staining the next morning.

Our friend Topher came back by to help with same sanding around the edges for a couple hours, and then it was down to this . . .

Greg passing over the living room with some of the finer grits. This was the hardest part because you couldn't see the change, you could certainly feel it, but it was difficult to track your progress moving around the room.
I knew it was getting late but I told Greg not to tell me what time it was. I kept trying to convince myself it was only about 10 . . . together we went through half a case of Mountain Dew, more soda in one night than in the past year!

We finally finished up at 4. Yea, 4. We cleaned up, powered everything off, loaded the sander in the car and went home to sleep for an hour or so. We got all the sanding done before the return time though, success!

And when we made it back to the house the next morning we saw this:

Aren't they beautiful? Don't they look brand new? Super success!

Next up: Dark Walnut Stain.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fixing the Hole

The Floors were a major, major project.  One that we knew would be a big, time consuming deal; we just didn't know how time consuming. As one friend put it,  it is not for the faint of heart.

 After ripping up the carpet and pulling up roughly a bazillion staples, we were ready to start the real work.  We set a date for the rental of the sanding machine from Lowes, Greg took off Friday from work to give us a full weekend, and we stockpiled all the supplies we could foresee needing.

Unfortunately, one thing we forgot about until the night before we started was this gaping hole in the corner of the dining room.  It was an old vent from when the house used oil heat (thankfully the previous owner was an HVAC guy and immediately updated the system when they moved in).  Because that room was covered in carpet, the vent had been sealed with a high tech solution of duct tape and paper plates and hidden under the carpeting.  Well, we obviously discovered the vent when the carpet came up, but we piled  several tool boxes over it in a make shift way to stop the draft. (I know, shocking that the paper plates weren't sufficient!)  Out of sight, out of mind until sometime Wednesday or Thursday.  

The vent, it's actual size was about 8x8, quite large.

After riping up some surrounding flooring to get to the hole better.

After Greg patched the subfloor and pulled up more hardwoods to give us a more realistic area to relay flooring.

The new floors, a lot like putting a puzzle together. 

And this is a "ramp" that Greg and our neighbor/friend Topher worked many hours on.  It's that strip of flooring across the doorway that you can see to the very left of the previous picture.  The dining room is an addition and sits about an inch lower than the kitchen so they engineered this flooring patch to have as seamless a transition between the two rooms as possible.
 So, this is how Greg spent about 10-12 hours over 2 nights to get the floors ready (I helped about 1/2 the hours) . . .  Next up, this big guy:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Everything Room

Here's an update on the one part that we aren't doing ourselves: the laundry room/mudroom/utility room/overflow kitchen storage. Pretty much homemaker central.

Because this is an integral part to us moving in (we have to finish this room in order to move the appliances out of the kitchen in order to install all the new cabinets and a dishwasher) and we're wanting to move in as soon as possible (now's not the time to teach ourselves hard core plumbing and electrical work) we hired a contractor to build it for us. This was part one:

Framing in the screened in porch

Adding a window - Zach, mom will always be able to see you . . .

The outside view. It's a real room!
Part two will be adding the electrical and plumbing! More pictures soon . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lock and Key

Along with pulling up the floors, one of the first projects we undertook was changing out the locks.  The fact that we estimated 1-2 hours to change out 3 handle locks and deadbolts and it took 2 days should have been an indication that we were not being realistic with our move-in timeline . . .

Assuming that this would be a quick, no big deal project, I didn't take many good pictures of the process, sorry!  We had 2 options when we decided to change the locks: we could use the existing handles and dead locks and have them re-keyed or we could go ahead and change them all out to something new.  After weighing the various options we decided to buy new locks and went with the Kwikset Smart Key system.  This system allows us to re-key the locks ourselves anytime we need to.  

After purchasing the new, beautiful locks we pulled the old ones off and realized that instead of cutting standard sized holes, whoever had put them in took some short cuts and only cut the bare minimum hole to jam the locks in.  Enter Greg's drill and chisel.  Many, many hours later, we have door locks that protect our house, look wonderful and are installed correctly!

The boys working

Our new door handle!
The kicker to all the hours spent on this is that Greg and I are hoping to replace the exterior doors sometime later this year (see the picture below to understand why . . . not fans of the 60's slanted windows) and we'll have to go through the whole process all over again . . . at least we'll have experience on our side next time!
We hope to buy new front doors later this year to rid ourselves of the slanted windows and the odd deadbolt location.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adios Carpets

We closed on our house the week before Christmas, Zach and I got the flu (or some other wicked virus), then Greg got the flu, then it was Christmas. So we only got 2 work days in before Christmas. We were able to get the locks changed (more on that later) and start on the floors.

If you look at the before pictures you can get a small sense of the shape the carpets were in. Especially the picture of the dining room (the previous owners used it as a den). My other pictures unfortunately weren't at the best angles to show off the carpets. Well, I was excited to finally get those bad boys out of there. I found some how to videos on you-tube and read a couple internet articles so armed with my razor blade, pry bar and a mallet I set out to find those hardwood floors. Greg had to work that day, but I kept him updated with phone calls about the progress roughly every 3 and 1/2 minutes.

I started with bedroom #3:

Having problems seeing the hardwood? Yea, me, too. It was little deflating to do all the work to get the carpet and then the mat up and find asphalt tiles circa 1967. One tile had a big chip out of it so I pulled it up to see if the hardwoods were hiding underneath. Nope. Only subflooring.

Onto the next floor, the master bedroom:

Yea . . . Green carpet matting. This was underneath the layer of floor matting that was installed in 2000, definitely a relic from an earlier decade. This was glued down completely, but when I scraped off a small piece I could tell for sure that there were hardwoods underneath. Half of a score!

Next up, the hallway:

The hallway apparently had the same green matting glued to it at one point but it was scraped somewhere along the line before being covered by carpet again.

After that I called it day.

I picked up again after Christmas, this time with a team!

Allie and I crossed our fingers, said a prayer and yanked up the carpet in bedroom #2 (Zach's room):

Yay! No mats glued down, no linolium tiles, just hardwoods.

And another prayer for the dining room:

Aside from about 4,679 staples in the floor, and several cat urine stains, that floor is looking ok, too.

Here's the aftermath (also waste from the laundry room project):

I couldn't have done it with the team I had! Mom, Chelle, Allie and Evan all came and scraped up the green matting and helped with the last 2 rooms of carpet. They were heroes and got the whole master bedroom scraped in just a couple hours! (see the hardwoods?!)

And Zach made sure we were all on schedule.