Friday, January 05, 2007

The Secrets What Lie Beneath

I am going to talk about many things, including why I hate carpets and wood strip flooring. Primarily, this post is to be about why we DID NOT move in on New Years weekend and what we found under those carpets. When I began ripping up the carpet on Christmas weekend, I noticed merely a few stains on the underside of the carpet, but a veritable potpourri of stains and damage across the ¼” x 2” white oak strip flooring beneath. Over-watered houseplants, incontinent pet syndrome and perhaps a few domestic mushrooms plagued this floor. And it seemed that water was left standing in many places, thanks to the sponging traits of carpets and their mats, which had warped and shrank the meager wood parcels that someone once called flooring. I cannot think of how to salvage this, even if I wanted to, that is. This does not to mention the plethora of heavily rusted staples from a previous much longer standing carpet. I dread to consider how that one looked prior to its demise.

You see, the carpet that *I* tore up was relatively new. My guess would be about 6 months old, long enough to spill a few things and filter a few dozen cartons of cigarettes. It still smelled like stale tobacco smoke, yet showed few actual signs of wear. I imagine that when the POs [Previous Owners] decided on selling the house, they did away with the previous carpet as the first part of prepping the sale. This older carpet might have been 30 years old or more, but had left many signs of its trialsome life behind.

So after concluding that the oak strip flooring was unsalvageable, I decided to rely on the original floorboards. The bedrooms still had them, although one bedroom had its boards painted brown for reasons yet unknown. My parents had come to our rescue to help us out; being the seasoned homebuilders/renovators that they are, this was a MAJOR relief.

The original ¾” old growth quarter-sawn tongue & groove Douglas Fir boards told me a tale of woe surpassing that of the puny oak strips. First of all, being thin and narrow wood strips and NOT t&g, they require a plethora of nails to keep them in line. And when some PO decided that wet mopping a wood floor was a good idea, this army of nails decided to rust and leave corrosion stains through the floorboards in too many places (though not shown here). This means that no amount of sanding will remove the stains, though I suppose some bleaching might work. Well, the same continued for the incidents during the carpet years because as wood strips, the dust, silt, cleaners and water seep through each gap, and reside evermore underneath, spreading out with every step of the foot.

Not only that, but when those malevolent strips were first put in, the installers seemed to have used some pick axe in the poor flooring to nestle up the oak nice and snug (but not snug enough). These ½” deep holes are found about every 3 feet, and some of them, like you see here, had been sloppily mis-placed. We figured that the amount of time/effort/money it would take to redress those wrongs and apply an adequate finish to the dougfir, we might do better with a whole new floor on all accounts.

So after much deliberation and sleeping on it, we decided upon and found a great deal on ¾” x 5” pre-finished Ash, and it has a 50 yr guarantee on the finish. Here is a mock-up. We are quite pleased with how it compliments the baseboards. This will be our task this weekend, but it means that we should have the ceilings painted beforehand…AND WE HADN’T EVEN CONSIDERED COLORS YET! But thank goodness that this is Roxana’s area of expertise, color theorist as she is. I trust her explicitly.

Here you see a corner of our living room all bare a neekid. Just a little shellac here, paint there, and a floor to come soon, and voila! All this week has been about preparing to paint, which means we have to finish with the stripping, neutralize the residual stripper left behind and mask off everything else. To neutralize the stripper, we are scrubbing the wood and adjacent surfaces with mineral spirits, and then washing it all down with a 10% solution of cleaner (Simple Green, in our case) using nylon abrasive pads.

Perhaps I shall soon provide an addendum to my Chemi-Strip Primer, or more "advanced" techniques, I am such a profession now.
Our next post will be about painting the ceiling and the colors chosen. Phew! (This is now an expression in our 2 ½ year old’s repertoire and a hoot to see). Until then...

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5 Comments:

At January 07, 2007 11:51 AM, Blogger Steph said...

Yikes. I need to have my husband look at your blog the next time he bitches about stuff we have to do to our house!

 
At January 07, 2007 11:57 PM, Blogger Oblio70 said...

Suffering is all relative; the longer a relative stays, the more you suffer [just kidding]. Actually, I probabally complain as much as he, and yet, I imagine the owners of "This Old Crackhouse" recount their myriad of woes on 20 hour daily cycles, ad infinitum..yet I doubt that. The joys of home ownership must be balanced with a certain ammount of suckage to make it as sweet as we imagine it to be.

 
At January 09, 2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous davidLBC said...

That thin 2" oak strip flooring is impossible to get in my area. I had to mill flooring out of thicker pieces of oak to replace bad sections in my house. Even then, the old oak and new oak don't have the same grain and don't take stain the same way. It's sad you see your floor so badly damaged. Perhaps you can offer pieces from your floor to others in your neighborhood looking to fix their floors, rather than landfilling it?

 
At January 09, 2007 5:05 PM, Blogger Oblio70 said...

It seems that that oak strip flooring is over-common here in California. In homes from post-WWII through the early '70s. For that reason I never gave it much consideration; however, because it was placed over the orginal old growth quarter-sawn douglas fir (which is in good condition in one bedroom and salvageable in the other)and caused [near-]irreparable damage to that floor it has provoked my ire. I am also chagrined at the fact that it does damage easily and allows dirt and water between the joints and traps it there. It's caveat is that parts can be repaired easily by replacement (but who ever does?).

As for my oak strips salvagability for parts, I can only imagine maximum 2' sections that have not shrank from the pet/water issues it confronted.

I could tell that the strip flooring was put down fairly early in the house's lifetime. Because it was installed before the wood was ever painted (7 layers), I would guess that it could have been from the 30's or as late as the 50's. I will be looking through the pile within the month however before I cart it off. I will post it here in an entry/post, should any be usable.

 
At January 10, 2007 2:54 PM, Blogger shirtees.net said...

Ha! We had pulled the carpet from our living room and our wood floors look much the same as yours... carpet stains, water stains, smells, etc.

Youve done a heck of a lot more than we have. Our first 6 months (almost 6 months now) has been fixing basic problems around the house and evaluating our money situation to see how everything fits together. We have a clear idea now what things cost (we just got our property tax bill :| ) so now we cant jump into the renovation much more. Our goal is to make it a two story house with a basement (it current has neither). Our major hurdle will be the Historic District we are in and their fight to keep everything exactly as is. I understand that, but I'll be damned if Im going to raise 8 children in a 980 sq ft home like the previous owners did! My wife wants a view of the mountains from an upstairs window and Id like an entertainment center in a basement... or at least a place to brew some beer. How to chat soon.. my email is daveXXX@XXXshirtees.net - remove all the XXX's

 

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