Flooring, part 3

This is the conclusion to the flooring saga, following part 1 and part 2.

Tuesday night, after leaving my newly destroyed floors, my dad and I tried to rationalize the damage. It’d be fine tomorrow. It won’t look so bad after we put polyurethane on, and so on. But then we broached the subject of sanding it again and starting over. That’s when I decided to sleep on it. I didn’t actually give it any thought because I essentially crashed. I woke up several times, but discovered a new trick. If you put a little lidocaine cream on your finger and rub the back of your throat, it makes the hurt just a little less so you can sleep.

Wednesday morning I was still undecided about the flooring, still felt like crap, and just wanted to rest. So I did. That and I did a few phone conferences with my mom in Nebraska (who said that if my dad thought it looked bad, it probably was), and my wife in Washington, who thought the pictures I’d sent didn’t look that bad. We didn’t want the added cost and time it would take to resand and then refinish, but we’d have to live with the results of the stain if we didn’t. Since it looked so bad right where you enter the house, I finally decided that I had to resand. But first, I needed to rest.

A couple hours, several popsicles, a few pints of water, and a showing of Blazing Saddles later, I was feeling human enough to rent a U-sand machine from Parkrose Hardware (also damn awesome) and go after the stain. We picked this machine because it’s simply four random orbit heads with a dust collection system. We weren’t looking to sand away decades of neglect, just one stupid afternoon of stain.

Wednesday evening, when I mustered the energy to sand, I was delighted to find how quickly it removed the stain (my dad was right), and how nicely it took away all the extra filler left in the drum sander divots and low parts. I only managed to do the 36 grit before crashing again, but I went to bed with a sense of hope and a tub of lidocaine creme. Surely, Thursday I’d be better.

Thursday arrived, and I still felt like hell. I called in to catch up with my boss and spent a few hours catching up on e-mail. Thankfully, it was summer term, and after most classes had ended so the immediate stuff was pretty limited. I then dozed off in a rocker for a while and woke in a panic, realizing I still had to get the sander back. So I rushed over and did another pass on the floors with the 60, 100, and 120 grit then rushed the sander out to Parkrose.

A short time later, Michelle arrived home with the girls and took on the cleaning while I rested. By about 5pm, we were ready to try again with the finish. We’d tried spot samples of Zinnser’s Bulls eye sanding sealer, a shellac without wax. It looked fantastic, and it’s what we’d originally wanted before testing the stains. The lovely thing about shellac, is that it goes on quickly, and with a lambswool head and a painting pad, we shellaced the floors in about 30 minutes.

Something odd had happened too. Since Michelle and the girls’ return, I’d started to feel better. It’s unlikely related, given that it had been nearly a week since the throat pain had started, but after a popsicle, I was able to eat some food and drink a respectable amount of water.

Friday, Michelle and dad went after the polyurethane and really closed up shop on the project. They put on a coat in the morning, and then we took Ella out for a birthday trip to the Children’s Museum. We’d scheduled the day off, and managed to have a great time ignoring the incomplete project at home. My dad, saint that he is, put on another coat of polyurethane while we were out. Michelle and he put on the last two coats as well, totaling in 4 coats. We used the Zinnser water based Polyurethane because we’ve had great luck with Zinnser’s other products, and it was $10/gallon cheaper than the Varethane, which we’ve used in the past.

How’d it look? Freakin’ shiny, that’s how. We chose semi-gloss because we knew there’d be a fair amount of dog traffic and didn’t want the wear to show off so glaringly. Still, the semi-gloss reflected giant patches of light onto the ceiling. It was a startlingly mirrored surface, but it looked fantastic.

The final cost of the project, which includes the installation of new flooring in the kitchen, refinishing the floors (plus the stain disaster), miscellaneous costs like replacing the damaged sanding head, purchasing a dead blow hammer, buying pizza for demolition crews, etc. came to $1132. (check out the tally) The cost of the “stain incident” was around $150, though I have no regrets now. During the process, in my pain and dejection, I was certain I’d never do this again. However, hindsight is corrective, and $1132 for the entire project is still less than a third of what it would have cost for someone to refinish the floors. That doesn’t include installing new floors in the kitchen, which totaled under $400, or less than $2.60 per sqft for both the material and installation.

So, despite a few moments of DIY Hell, a week of pain and poor health, we came out in pretty good shape. See the pictures for yourself. Now we just have to repaint all the baseboards and install new quarter-round. Check back in 3 months.