I showed you the awful ‘before’ condition of my upstairs floors a couple of weeks ago.
That photo doesn’t even really capture how orange they had become over time. I think I mentioned in that post that these floors were already in fairly rough shape when we purchased our house in 1988. And we’ve never done anything with them in all of this time. Yep, they were very sadly neglected.
After getting the quote from the professional re-finishers and deciding to spend our money on a trip to Norway & Scotland instead, I started to give some thought to DIY alternatives for the upstairs floors.
I seriously considered painting them. I love the look of a painted floor like this example from vintageinteriorblogs.com …
I even thought it might work to add a painted checkerboard pattern like this example from pinterest …
But I have two painted floors already, my front three-season porch floor is painted.
And the floor in my photo cottage is painted.
I did both of those floors myself so I know just how much work it was, and the master bedroom floor alone is about four times the size of these floors. So a checkerboard paint job was definitely out of the running. I also know that painted floors are hard to keep clean and they scratch fairly easily over time which is not a great look. So after discussing it, Mr. Q and I decided that a painted floor in the master bedroom was not going to work for us.
Next we considered renting sanding equipment and refinishing the floors ourselves. I knew that applying the finish would be within my skill set, but I wasn’t sure about operating the sander. I’ve heard that they can be difficult to control and it’s easy to gouge your floor or end up with uneven sanding. Plus it’s really hard work.
We were discussing this during my sister’s move. On moving day we had help from some of nnK’s students. I’ve mentioned before that nnK (new neighbor Karen who lives across the street from me) is the athletic trainer at a local high school. She always seems able to pull together a crew of athletes from her school to help with any heavy lifting. Well, it just so happened that two of the guys helping us with Debbie’s move were also working for a company that refinishes gym floors this summer. They said they’d been learning a lot on the job and would be willing to give us a quote on refinishing our floors.
So we had them out and they looked at our floors and gave us a ballpark price, which was well under the price from the professionals. We knew we were taking a risk since these guys were young and relatively inexperienced, but they were enthusiastic and we decided what the heck. It was a way to spruce up our floors and not break the bank.
We set a date and I took the preceding week off work as a working staycation to prepare. During that week I painted all three rooms upstairs and we started emptying them out. Yikes! There was almost 30 years of accumulated stuff in those rooms! We started out being methodical and putting things out of the way on the front porch or tucked into corners, but by the end we were just throwing things anywhere there was a spot. Here’s how the Q Branch looked for over a week …
And here is where we slept …
I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was an exhausting week. Adam and Alek showed up on Friday to start the floors. It took them a good part of the day to get them sanded. It was loud, dusty, sweaty, hard work and as I was watching them I realized how glad I was that we hadn’t tried to tackle this project ourselves. By about 8:30 Friday evening the guys had sanded the floors, cleaned them, put down a coat of sealer, went home for dinner while that dried, came back and buffed the floor again and then put down a 2nd coat of sealer. They came back Saturday morning to buff again and put down a coat of finish, then again Saturday evening to add a 2nd coat of finish. Finally they came back again on Sunday to remove the tape around the baseboards and check their work.
I wanted a natural look with no stain and a matte finish. The guys chose to use this product from Varathane …
And now my floors look like this …
I absolutely LOVE the color. I wanted them to be pale and natural looking and that’s exactly how they turned out.
Lucy inspected them and was happy with the results too.
Keep in mind that these floors are 113 years old. They are maple and as I mentioned we opted to not stain them. There are some natural variations in the color of each board. They also have some deep scratches and other flaws, and there are spots where the boards are a little warped and thus didn’t sand evenly. I was OK with those imperfections and did not expect pristine, new looking floors. Also, the guys told me they didn’t know how to get under the radiators and I was fine with that. They struggled a bit with the edges and corners too. There is one edge that really could use a touch up and the guys were more than willing to come back out and fix it. But in the end we decided that since it would be covered with furniture anyway it just really wasn’t worth the effort.
My main goal with the floors was to get rid of the orange tone that they had developed over the years and that was accomplished perfectly.
Mission Possible is really starting to come together now. I have a few more details to complete such as new switch plates, re-paint the baseboards, replace the ceiling fan, and make a decision about window treatments. Be sure to check back next week when I share what we did for a headboard, and how I changed up the nightstands!