Saturday, September 05, 2009

Floor transformation

Since we moved into our 100+ year-old farmhouse almost two years ago, we've been longing to have our bedroom floor stripped of its glossy blue porch paint. In March 2008 (eek, has it really been that long?) I stripped the atrocious blue-and-pink vomit-of-flowers wallpaper, and we had the underlying plaster walls repaired. Since then, Gordon painted the walls, and now we have finally stripped the original (100+ year-old!) maple floors. Ray and Joyce, who have done quite a bit of work for us around here, worked extremely hard at it and did a fine job. Here's the play-by-play:

Ray says "Thumbs up!" to the removal of a section of damaged floor where a chimney used to be. There was a ton of creosote build-up in and on the wood, and it was not salvageable. The black stains on the floor beams are creosote. It's amazing the house never burned down. The kitchen is directly under our bedroom, as was the old wood-burning cookstove. The kitchen chimney was removed some years ago.

The circular thing in the picture is where a stovepipe came up through the floor.

See all the charring and creosote on these boards? They still smelled heavily of woodsmoke, which I guess the paint had been sealing in, since we never noticed it before.

Despite her best efforts, Joyce couldn't find any old matching floorboards to use for repair, so she got some new maple and voilà, the floor was fixed:

The paint removal had begun at this point. Under the blue paint was battleship-grey paint!

Sophie and Tristan check out the newly-stripped floor. They haven't been allowed in there since, and man, I have to cut their claws before they set foot in our bedroom again!

Here is the floor post-chemical stripping, but before sanding.

Then Ray and Joyce went at it with the orbital sander (a hard and dirty job!) and here is the result:

Ahhhhh! No more blue!

After that, three coats of non-yellowing varnish with a matte finish...

There are lots of scratches and dents and even an oil stain on the floor. I don't know what they were doing up there over the decades, but they were really hard on the floor! We knew it would be impossible to get the floor completely perfect but that's just fine with us There's a ton of character and history in these old maple floor boards.

On the other side of the white partition is a narrow staircase to the kitchen, perhaps for the farmhands, who may have slept in our room back in days of old. We have a normal wide staircase in the centre of the house. Since it's just the two of us here, the open-to-the-kitchen bit isn't a privacy problem for us, except for when my in-laws visit and sit in the kitchen talking loudly at some ungodly hour of the morning.

The baseboards were missing on two sides of the room, so Joyce carefully made some to match the originals . I think she did a fantastic job.

So there you go. We'd like some new bedroom furniture, but otherwise, this room is done. Now we just have to paint every other room in the house, and refinish the rest of the upstairs floors. Another year. We are so happy with our bedroom floor!


  1. Anonymous10:38 am

    Oh WOW wow wow wooooooooowwwwwww!!!! It's almost a shame to put furniture back in there!

    The floors are truly beautiful ... and i agree about the dings etc ... all of them tell a story (unfortunately we'll never know what that story is, but it's there!) The floor people did a GREAT job.

    I'll bet you go there several times a day just to gaze at the floor :D ... I would!

    Congratulations! :) ... really enjoyed (appreciated your effort) seeing it from start to finish :)

  2. Just beautiful! It's so fulfilling to bring a wood floor back to life. And I'm with you about the character of old wood floors. They have a tale to tell in their beauty.

  3. Wow, it's gorgeous Nat!! Hard to believe what people will do to hardwood floors. When hubby and I lived in his first house, we ripped out some ugly linoleum in the kitchen and found bird's eye maple underneath. Why, WHY do people cover that sort of thing?
    Yours look AWESOME!!

  4. Very Nicely done! I can so relate. Our house is 100 this year and we are and have been working on many projects. It seems like it will never end. So when it does, and with results like this, it is terrific.

  5. While the improvement is phenomenal, I want to state for the record that I like the "hideous vomit of floral wallpaper" that you have in your guest bedroom.

  6. Oh Angela, bird's eye maple. Who in their right mind would put lino on that??!!

    HWB, howzabout I save the scraps for you when I go into that guest room with the wallpaper steamer? :) Cuz it's coming down.

  7. I seriously can't believe this is the most popular post of all time on my blog...


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!