Project #3: Floors
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
In the bottom floor of our 1901 home, we have 3 rooms with original heart pine floors, and 2 with pine floors that are slightly newer than 119 years, but still old. When we moved in, the heart pine rooms were in bad shape. There was some termite damage, they were peeling, and some boards moved under our feet as we walked. It was clear a good portion of the boards needed to be replaced. But our main question was: could they be saved?
We decided to heed our own advice by getting multiple consults about the floors. Our first one came from a simple online search. He felt strongly that the floors could be saved, however, he did not have access to any heart pine wood. His quote came in at around $2,800 for refinishing what was there.
Our second opinion came from the man who did our neighbor’s heart pine floors. He also felt the floors would be beautiful when complete. He admitted some areas would need to be fully replaced, and he had access to the wood to do it. His quote was $3,200.
I can’t recall how exactly we learned about company #3, but it really doesn’t matter. He basically took one look at the floors and recommended turning them into subfloors. We didn’t receive a quote from him.
We ended up choosing the second company to do the work. The price was right, they had access to heart pine wood, and our neighbor loved the work they did for them. They were also able to fit us into the schedule at the perfect time: after the kitchen demo and before the new cabinets went in. It would not do to put in brand new cabinets, then run a sander up against them. Additionally, the bottom half of much of the kitchen’s walls were the same as the floors: tongue-and-groove heart pine. The bottom of the floors was what was facing out. This was a bonus because it gave us more wood we could use (which can cost up to $15 per linear foot). We can’t say enough about how important it is to match the grain and color – in addition to the age.
Clearing the bottom floor was a painstaking process that took weeks to either sell or move our furniture and belongings. In all honesty, we loaded up the master bathroom quite a bit. The hardest part for me personally was going 9 days without the ability to do laundry!
The plan was to take on all of the downstairs pine floors: the living room, dining room, and master bedroom with the original heart pine, as well as the kitchen and laundry room with the newer-but-still-old pine floors. Sasha worked meticulously. I’m unclear of this exact process, but it involved sanding 6 different times, replacing some boards, repairing others, sealing the wood, disguising the sealer, us spending an afternoon locked out of the house, and a few days in which we were only allowed to wear socks.
Here are some before pictures:
As you can see, they were rough, a little yellow, and peeling.
In the middle of the week-long process, we also asked him to stain the kitchen floors, so they’d be closer in color to the dining room, living room, and master bedroom. He agreed to tint them. We also asked him to stain the stairway landing to match the stairs, repair the stairs, and replace some of the wood on the front porch. These adders brought the total project from $3,200 to $4,000.
Overall, Sasha did a GREAT job. He’s a true craftsman, or perhaps artist is the right word. I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who takes as much pride in his work as he does. As you can see from the after pictures, his work brought new life to floors that are practically ancient. You’d never know by looking at them. He was also patient when we had to delay the project half a day to have the structure company come back out and lower the floor in one area.
A bonus to this project is that it was more affordable than putting in new floors because we didn’t need materials. It will be at least 10 years until we need to worry about the floors again.
The only hiccup we had on this project was a miscommunication about the kitchen floors. We were thinking Sasha could stain them. He assumed we knew he could only tint them. The result was a color we weren’t initially happy with. He quickly tinted them a different color, and now I’m very happy with them. The kitchen is certainly going to be beautiful when it’s done, although it was pretty sad to cover up the floors with ram board within a few days of their completion. Stay tuned for the kitchen write-up.