Flooring, part 2

For every DIY story, there’s a sinister subplot where something goes wrong. In keeping with that, I’ve split the story in to parts 2 and 3, so each can have a separate disaster.

Part 2

After completing the flooring install, we had to move on to the larger project of sanding and refinishing the floors. We had intended to do this prior to inhabiting the house since that would have been ideal, but with the logistics of moving, it was too complicated to coordinate with multiple moving volunteers and exiting the old house in a timely fashion. But now, the dirty and decrepit floors, missing finish in more places than not, desperately need to be refinished. The process is rather intrusive, so here was our plan.

Move everything out of the first floor in to the garage, upstairs, basement or guest room. remove all the quarter-round from the base boards and remove all vents. Set all nail heads on top nailed boards well below the surface. Send girls and wife to Yakima to escape. Seal off the house. Rent equipment from Interstate rentals. sand. a lot. Fill gaps and cracks. Sand again. Stain. Finish with 4 coats of polyurethane. Move back in.

It was all supposed to happen while Michelle and the girls were gone, but on Friday, I started getting sick. No matter. My dad and I picked up Saturday morning and finished a few last prep items before picking up the sanders from Interstate Rentals (Awesome people, great prices, local business). We started with 20 grit on the drum sander and 36 grit on the edger and my dad worked the kitchen, edges and hallway while I ran the drum sander in the office, living and dining rooms. We took off a lot of wood, and the 20 grit left some pretty serious gouges. So we moved on to 36 for a pass before it was quitting time. We rode down to 5th Quadrant for a dinner and beers, then came home. I didn’t sleep too well for a second night and my throat had started to really hurt.

Sunday, we were back at it with the sanders moving up the grit, though we found that the large orbital sander did much less damage than the edger, which took off a lot of wood in a hurry. By the time we reached 100 grit, I was in serious pain. I was probably dehydrated and after 2 nights without much sleep, I was out of it, so I took a break and ended up taking a 2 hour nap. My dad continued to work and put a coat of filler in the office. I got up from the nap, choked down some potato soup and went back to bed.

Monday morning I felt like hell, but I had to get the sanders back to Interstate Rentals. We kept the large orbiting sander for another several hours, and my dad and I managed to get the rest of the fill down. We used Famowood filler, one of golden oak, and one of red oak because that’s all that CrossCut had. It’s a lot of work to put on, and sadly, you end up sanding off 98% of it. So, after wrestling it in to the cracks, crevices and unfortunately, the divots left by the drum sander, we sanded off the filler with the orbital using a 150 grit screen. The orbital lacks dust collection, so we ended up doing a lot of shop vac work as well. Dad ended up sanding all the edges with his older palm orbital sander because I somehow tore the pad on his Festool sander. I felt horrible about it since I was being especially careful with his new deluxe tool.

Many a person has speculated that being around all the dust is what caused my sore throat, or at least exacerbated the problem, but I think they’re wrong. I wore a respirator the entire time. I purposely bought a good respirator knowing that I’d be wearing it for a week. And while wearing the respirator in 85-90F heat, you tend to get a little muggy. So the entire time I had the respirator on, I was working in a clean, humid environment. It was actually more comfortable to be working with the respirator than not.

We finished early in the afternoon and I crashed again on the floor at his house. My dad was a little bummed because we had the perfect opportunity for bachelor nights with mom and my wife and girls out of town, but my not being able to eat and the pain kind of dampened the mood. Out of desperation, I rode my bike over to Walgreens and picked up some chloroseptic spray since several people had recommended them. I also picked up some coconut M&Ms thinking in only 15 minutes, I’d be able to eat something again. I was wrong. 15 minutes later, I applied the spray. Nothing happened, so I went to bed. 2 hours later, I woke up and my throat was raw and burning. Damn you snake oil merchants!

Tuesday I woke up hoping for some sort of respite. My dad checked my throat and didn’t see anything that looked like strep, just a really red, probably from all the glycerin in the throat spray. I finally emailed my doctor’s office (yeah, KP lets you e-mail the docs, and they typically respond really quickly) and the someone in the office responded that I should come in for a rapid test. I did, got swabbed, and was told I was negative for strep, but to hydrate, rest, and stay home. The nurse also recommended popsicles if I was having problems drinking water.

After numbing my throat with a popsicle, I drank a pint of water and got back to work. I started staining the floors with General Finishes’ water based Golden Oak stain. It looked best in the tests we did prior to the sanding on the new white and red oak and on the older flooring (I busted out a piece from the closet to compare). It went on fine in the kitchen, though made it look rather red. However, as I applied it in the office, then in the living and dining rooms, it started to look really bad. Maybe it was the heat (90F), maybe it was all the extra filler, and maybe it was just punishment for something, but my floors looked like crap. Cheap faux-aged pier one furniture crap. Splotchy, ruddy, and with huge lap marks. When I went home on Tuesday, I felt crappier than I can remember feeling in a long time. Dehydrated, defeated and pissed off. My dad was trying to find a bright spot in the mess when I crashed for bed.