|My refinished staircase. $5 plus an hour or so of labor.|
(Sorry, I don't have a 'before' pic of the stairs.)
|Bedroom One "Before"|
|Bedroom One "After", turned out way better than I thought! |
Not bad for $10 worth of paint and an hour or so of work (minus drying time).
|Bedroom Two "Before"|
(Look at that plywood! Aaaah!)
|Bedroom Two "After", $10ish dollars worth of floor paint later.|
|The landing before. Horrible. Just horrible.|
|The landing after, my paper bag floor!! ($62 in supplies, and I have leftovers!)|
My new house has hardwood floors. Original, installed in the 1920's hardwood floors. And they're gorgeous. But they don't go throughout the home. The addition that was built in the 1960's was built with an unfortunate tile flooring, which has since been covered up by carpet in the living room and sheet laminate in the dining room. But the kitchen, the "middle room" as I currently call it, the master bedroom, and the long hallway leading to the newly remodeled bathroom all have gorgeous mahogany floors.
The stairs, the upstairs hallway/landing, and the two bedrooms upstairs were all carpeted because, according to my landlord, all of that was part of the addition. But the more I cleaned, measured, planned, and started getting ready to move in, the more I came to the realization that there was no way the upstairs was an addition. It had to be part of the original house. Which meant that underneath all that worn, bleach stained, 20-something year old carpet, there had to be hardwood floors. And I wanted them. I wanted them bad.
At first I told myself that "someday" I would tear up all the carpet upstairs. But I know for a fact that any big projects I don't get done before I move won't ever get done, realistically. I was already pushing it logistically and financially with the move, and couldn't afford to take on another big project, but still....mahogany floors. Hundreds and hundreds of square feet of beautiful, eighty year old hardwood flooring that just needed to be freed from underneath the confines of that horrendous carpet. I was sure all it needed was a little TLC.
But I didn't have time for TLC...I just needed to do what absolutely needed to be done, and get moved. One day, out of morbid curiosity, I asked my landlord during casual conversation if he would be okay with me tearing up the carpet if there were, in fact, hardwood floors underneath. (He, at this point, still wasn't convinced that the upstairs was part of the original house.) He said he didn't care.
That sealed the deal. What was at first a thought in the back of my mind became an obsession. The hardwood floors underneath that grimy carpet that was somehow becoming more disgusting by the day were calling to me. It was like something out of Poe's Telltale Heart. No matter where I was in the house, or what I was doing, I could hear them, just begging for me to save them. "Help us.... free us....love us..."
I had to do it. I started in one of the bedrooms, where the carpet was already starting to peel away from the wall a little. I pulled it far enough back to see what was underneath. And what I found was....HARDWOOD FLOORS!! Sure, they'd need to be cleaned and polished, but I was up for the task. What would that take, a couple of hours?
I pulled more and more of the carpet away from the tack board, ripping up the rotting padding underneath it. The floors weren't in as good a shape as I'd hoped, lots of splattered and spilled paint, but they weren't horrible. They were definitely fixable. When I was done with one bedroom, I moved onto the next. The floors were in pretty much the same shape, beaten up but repairable.
I spent the next hour or so blindly pulling up carpet and padding, not really paying attention to the floors underneath until I was done. When I finally did step back to look at my finished product, I was....horrified. Why, oh why did I tear up the carpet?! There was a reason it had been put down, and the reason was that the floor underneath them had been abused and beaten beyond recognition. They had been worn, stained, splattered with paint, and even butchered! On the landing and in the bigger of the two bedrooms, the hardwood floor had been cut out for some unknown reason and replaced with plywood. Plywood! Right in the middle of the landing, in a long, narrow, unhideable strip.
(Update: I have since learned from a previous owner that the original flooring was cut out in places and replaced with plywood when they redid the duct work upstairs.)
I was beside myself. I had two options. Recarpet, or refinish the floors completely, neither of which I had the money for. I scoured the internet and sought opinions. I thought and thought. And I finally came up with a plan. The stairs, which had endured the least amount of abuse, I would sand and refinish. That couldn't take too long, and wouldn't cost too much if I did it myself. The landing, I would try a technique called "paperbag flooring" that a Facebook friend had mentioned. And in the bedrooms, I would paint with wood floor paint, since most of the floor space would be covered with furniture anyway.
COST: I spent less than $100 on supplies....a gallon of Cocoa Brown Wood Floor Paint ($30), a gallon of Elmer's glue ($12), two rolls of brown craft paper ($10), three quarts of water based polyeurathane ($40), and a tin of some sort of stain/polish called Restore-A-Floor ($5).
STAIRS: For the stairs, I skipped the sanding step and went straight to refinishing. I used Goof Off to remove the larger paint splatters, but left the small ones. They added character. I applied two coats of Restore-A-Floor, allowing two days of drying time in between.
BEDROOMS: For the bedrooms, we put up blue tape to protect the trim, and applied two coats of Dutch Boy wood floor paint. After two coats in each room, I still had about 1/8th of a gallon of paint left that I can use for touch-ups.
PAPER BAG FLOOR: My biggest dilemma was over what to do with the landing, which had a ginormous plywood plank down the center. A friend suggested "paperbag flooring", which I'd never heard of before. After a good amount of research, I decided it was my best option. I ripped brown craft paper into 6-12 inch sections, wadded them into balls, and dipped them into a glue mixture (3 parts water, 1 part Elmer's glue). The process was easy enough: dunk, squeeze, flatten out on the floor, overlapping the pieces. But it was very, I repeat, VERY time consuming. After about five hours, I was to the "let it dry" stage, which is an overnight process. The following day, I began the process of applying multiple layers of water-based polyeurathane. I allowed a couple hours between coats, and decided today that I want to add a few more coats for good measure. I applied coat number five earlier this evening, and will do coats six and seven tomorrow. It's not perfect, there are a few ripples and you can still see the texture of the floor underneath. I could have done better prep work to prevent that. I could have stained the floors once I was done laying the paper. And I could have sanded the polyeurathane between coats, but I didn't. I like my floor anyway. I think it has character.
All in all, the amount of time I spent working on the floors was the hardest part. Lots of aches and pains, lots of late nights, but totally worth it in the end. And the fact that I can say I did it all for less than $100 is pretty stinkin' awesome if you ask me.