can we get an award? lol

blackcats13December 27, 2009

An award for "what were the PO thinking?!?!" We finally got to pulling up the rest of the dining room carpet (living room next). What a mess! Of the 11' x 12' 7" room, the first 8' x 4' or so of hardwood is damaged. After much thought, the best we could guess was that there was a 'flood' of some kind. There are drywall screws and roofing nails pounded into the boards, and places where someone took a saw to the lengths of the boards! Here are some pictures with the questions at the end.

1. The whole room. We've been told that for a time, the previous owners (who lived here about 50 years) walled off this dining room and turned it into a tiny bedroom for 2 of their teen aged girls. Can you imagine?! You can see where the stud wall was - it's the cleanest part of the floor, nicely outlined in white paint. The pink rectangle is the damaged part, we assume the floor is the same under the china cab.

2. Here is a close up of some of the damage. Our best guess is that maybe the girls had a fish tank, family went on vacation and tank leaked while they were gone? They come back to expanded and warped flooring, dad has a fit and saws the boards to fit then nails the boards back into place?

We were hoping to rent a sander and refinish the floors, but what do we do about the damage? Is it hard to cut/replace? Would it cost a lot to be professionally replaced? And advice/ideas/suggestions?


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Those black spots look like old adhesive. Was the carpet glued down? If not, probably linoleum was on top of that floor in a previous era. I'm not understanding your remark about a stud wall. Has a wall been removed?

Old wood floors are like a history book. They can tell you about previous cellar doors, old staircases long removed, coal furnace ducts and cold air returns long gone, walls torn down, covered-up fireplaces.

Linoleum and then wall to wall carpet led a lot of people to cobble up old openings in a floor instead of carefully replacing wood planks, because all one is interested in is providing a flat and strong subfloor.

We recently removed the carpeting and pad from my upstairs office in this 1820s house. The original flooring is present in all rooms and it would be so nice to sand them down and finish the house off in it's previous glory. However............ what I found is a cobbled up area immediately in front of a fireplace where the old hearth had been removed, and two other cobbled up areas where the old farmer had installed ductwork for a coal furnace since we have a coal mine on our property. The next owners just slapped some boards down and covered it up with something.

I am seriously considering repairing those areas, but that is going to take some work. Hard to tell what happened to your floor. The house may have been abandoned at a previous point in time and had massive water damage. Pipe may have broken and walls repaired but floor covered over. It almost suggests carpet was down when it happened, and then lay against the boards and remained wet a long while. I'd be sorely tempted to put a new wood floor over it, but salvage the old one underneath to preserve the integrity and history of the house.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:17AM
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We were guessing some kind of linoleum was glued down there. Re the stud wall. It is now and originally was a dining room. However, the previous owners turned it into a tiny bedroom for a few years and the wall to separate that room from the hallway was added, then removed later. We know this because one of the daughters lives a block away and the neighbors on either side of us have lived there for 50 years as well. So the clean-ish area of wood by the table legs was where that wall was.

The carpet we pulled up was not glued down. I suspect there was older carpet that was replaced at one time as well because a lot of the staples I pulled out of the floor had a different color padding stuck under them then the color of the padding I pulled up. I think the 'bedroom' area was tiled and that must have been from before the carpet.

So, never abandoned, but yeah, probably water damage. We considered putting laminate down as a last resort since that's all we can afford in terms of 'new' floor. But I really think (hope) the living room is in better shape and wouldn't that be odd to walk from real wood to fake? Also there would be a slight height difference. Or, we could just fix the dining room, and really pray that the living room is good and doesn't NEED to be refinished right away.

Ugh. The "what to do" decisions are what makes things take so long, not the actual work!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:32AM
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Are there closets in the house where you might be able to find undamaged boards to replace the ones that are most badly affected?

We took up layers of vinyl & linoleum in our 1920 kitchen and had a lot of nail holes, stains, ets. in our wood floor to deal with. For some people, seeing the old damage is part of the character of an old house, and adds to the value of the refinished floor. However, you don't want to have holes that could cause hazards, so those you will want to fix.

I guess you are doing this work yourselves. A company experienced in refinishing wood floors would probalby be able to strip the old flooring (oak?), put in new planks cut to the right width, and then sand down/finish the whole floor. I don't think you'd ever know what was new wood and what was old.

Another important consideration is how old is the flooring and how many times has it been sanded? At some point you'll run out of wood. Old floors had plenty of wood; the newer floors are not meant to be sanded more than once or twice.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 12:23PM
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Hm. Yeah!!! Closets! WHY didn't I think of that?! (pregnancy brain - that is why) I don't know if we could harvest enough, but it would definitely help! I don't mind character, but these floors are really bad. Just a sad wreck, kinda like most of our house. I wanted a fixer upper I could bring back to life, I'm thinking I got a money pit! Would love to hire someone, but I'm thinking we'll end up doing it ourselves, or possibly with the help of a carpenter we know. The floors are pretty old, but I'm not really sure HOW old. I don't think they've been refinished much, if ever, but they are 2.25 in width and I thought wood floors from the 20s/30s were wider then that?

I'm dying to know what the kitchen floor looks like - ours is also under about 4 layers of vinyl and linoleum. But that room is a HUGE project and it'll have to wait.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Unless you've successfully used a rotary sander before, I'd hire a pro. I see too many diy jobs where you can follow the series of "waves" in the floor. Aside from replacing a couple of the boards you've shown close up and getting rid of surface nails, I'd say that floor will come out fine. It will have "character," though. However, you'll get a much better deal pricewise by doing all the floors at once, not piecemeal.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 8:38PM
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No, there are narrow wood boards on homes of that age, as well as wider ones. My folk's house has beautiful hardwood floors, built around 1930 and they're all narrow boards. Ditto what worthy might be surprised at the cost to have them at least repaired, the nail situation taken care of and sanded.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:33AM
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Hey blackcats! I didn't know you were expecting. Congratulations!

I've seen floors in that kind of shape come out looking like a million bucks. I believe you need to get all the adhesive off before you try to sand. My landlord swears by a scraper and days of hard labor. I prefer milk paint co's 100% orange oil.

Chalk the nails up to patina. you are on the right track!

And I think your dr furniture is lovely.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:42PM
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Thanks! I'm still in the first trimester but feeling great! We just finished pulling up most of the original living room area. We already checked and know that the area that used to be the front porch just has plywood under the rug so we're leaving that for the moment. I'M SO GRATEFUL!! The LR floors are fine! I forgot to take a pic. They don't even need refinishing. We just need to get off a lot of paint drips clean and ... polish? Or something. And the baseboards don't meet the floor and need to be replaced anyway (not old). But, not a money pit yet!

Sigh. Getting all that adhesive off will be quite the chore. Good exercise I guess ;) I'd leave the nails as they were except they are roofing nails :( And drywall screws :(

Someone is coming by tomorrow morning to take a look. I've asked DH to get a quote for: 1. Fix dining room floor - just replacing boards or whatever; 2. Put down wood where the porch was (probably won't do this) 3. Sand and finish both rooms. At the least we can hopefully get it fixed and do the rest ourselves.

Worthy, we'd prefer to have it done professionally, but we'll see how the quotes come in. I've read that the ... U sander? is easier to use. Or maybe once the repair is done and the mastic is gone we can put down a couple area rugs and refinish it later when we have a little more $. The kitchen will have linoleum (or vinyl depending on budget) so we're not worried about that room.

Whatever happens - I hate my house so much less now that most of that very nasty carpet is gone. Also, today DH finally replaced the ceiling tiles in an upstairs hallway that he tore down the first week we owned this place. What a difference it makes! He said "it no longer looks like ..." and I finished "we live in a crack house?" LOL

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 10:56PM
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Nothing like a pregnancy to bring on a remodel, LOL. I started my kitchen when I was just getting over the nausea. The plumbers came to install fixtures the day I delivered.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:24PM
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My landlord swears by a scraper and days of hard labor

There are easier ways.

A renovator friend had a century house where the first floor hardwood was actually leveled with some sort of tarry adhesive before the tiles were set. Her floor refinisher used screening discs--lots of them--on a disc sander.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 10:11AM
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Be sure to get a 2nd opinion!
I bought a house in horrible shape... peeking under the (icky!) carpets, I could see hardwood floors. Once the carpets were removed, there was white and black 'crap' stuck all over it.

The first guy that looked at it told me it could NOT be removed by machine/sanding because it would gum up everything. He said to remove it by hand. I scraped one day until my arm felt like a giant lobster's claw and had only managed to remove a few square feet. I found another guy to come look at it and he said: "no big deal! my machine will take that off in no time!". I hired him. :)

My LR, DR, and bedrooms also have 2.25" oak flooring. There was severe damage and buckling of the DR floor in one section due to water damage from an unattended leaking roof. The 2nd guy told me it would be cheaper to fix it myself (rather than have him do it) and he suggested taking wood from a closet. Luckily, a friend noticed that the hardwood in the closet was 3" wide! so be sure to check that. lol!

On the damaged section, he told me to chisel out the bad section... I couldn't find the tongue-n-groove oak in 2.25" to replace it, so he sent me to a hardwood mill to have custom pieces cut. My repairs came out great -- thanks to him. He said my only mistake was that I should have ordered "2nd" quality oak so that it would better match the existing older wood. i.e., my fix was 'too perfect'. :)

I was bad about taking any 'before' photos (it was all just too ugly!) -- but this shows the buckets collecting the dripping water before the carpet was ripped up. That white-ish and blue crap around the carpet edge was just some of what was stuck to the floor.

And here's an 'after' photo (with much more work to be done!) from a slightly different angle:

PS: yeah... the odd-shaped cut-out in the wall was changed (but remains, despite my father's recommendation) because the kitchen cupboards had to be lowered for me to reach them. That cut-out gives me a *perfect* view of everything from the kitchen, and makes a great 'pass through'. :)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 8:44AM
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Shows what can be done!

I'm sure you put the smoke detector in a more suitable place. P.S. I second Dad.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 11:40AM
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Oh that is beautiful! And I love the division between the rooms ... something I dream about having one day! We have a 'divider' between the rooms, but it was "updated" in the 70s. Dark wood paneling and spindles. Another project that will have to wait, though I might at least paint it white in the meantime.

We got our quote back from a highly rated (angies list) company and it's not tooooo bad. The repair will cost us under 700 and the refinishing of both rooms, including staining, was under 900 (I don't have the quote in front of me). They said the mastic was so dry it would be no problem to sand it. There's an 11% discount because of Angies List, so that puts us within an acceptable amount. Well worth it to get it done. The DIY route takes FOR-EV-ER for us. Replacing the plywood in the area that used to be the front porch will have to wait. I'd always known that area was not going to match anyway and occasionally I think about ways to set it apart 'purposefully' maybe a completely different color or flooring or something.

Next up - baseboard trim (has to be DIY) and another rug for the 'new' floor (runner for path through dining room).

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 2:24PM
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