Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hardwood flooring 101. Our first home improvement project was to tackle re-laying the hardwood floors. In hopes of improving the appearance of our house for sale, the previous owner took out the carpet in the living room and put down hardwood flooring. Great idea, right? Well, for some reason, we have yet to figure out, he put the hardwood OVER the carpet padding. Imagine walking across the wood floor and having it squish a half inch with each step. Also, he put the planks down in rows without staggering them. Picture straight lines across the floor where all of the planks ended ended every four feet.
So, we removed the wood planks and threw away the carpet padding. We did some research online to see how it was supposed to be done. It couldn't be THAT hard, could it? The planks are tongue and groove; we'll just take them out, cut some of them, stagger them properly and put them back down. Easy, right? Well, they were GLUED together and came up in groups of 4-5 that we could not separate. Plan B? Price new wood floor. Ouch. Price carpet. Debate.

We were hosting Christmas, so we put the wood on the patio to have room for guests and food and presents. We put down a cheap area rug on the concrete. Classy, aren't we? But, it worked.

The wood spend a couple days outside in the fog. Our realtor suggested using one of the glued together sections of the wood flooring in the entry to protect our carpet. So, we brought some in to get a feel for how it looked. Well, the planks came apart. Who knew? Fog will loosen the glue that sticks wood floor together. Then we decided to try the rest of them and THEY ALL CAME APART! Back to plan A.

Now, the fun part. You have to get the blue foam stuff that has the moisture barrier on the bottom to keep the moisture from coming up through the concrete and damaging your wood. Good idea. You also need these little black spacers that you put between the floor and the wall to create an "expansion gap" so to floor can stretch out. You need really good glue, in a fancy glue gun. You shouldn't need glue, but if you have bits of dried glue already in the grooves, they are not going to go together smoothly. And you need a fancy metal thingy that pulls the wood pieces together tightly if you smack it with a hammer. It also helps to have a good sense of humor! So, here we go. First you stack your wood and make sure it's level. A kids train will do this; if the train rolls, it's not level. Just kidding. It just seemed to fit this picture which I thought was cute.
First thing, you want to remove the baseboards and the nails that did not come out when the baseboards popped off. Maybe you would not have to remove them. But we plan to paint the walls and replace the baseboards anyway. So off they pop.

The first couple of rows are the hardest to get lined up and straight. After that it's pretty easy until the last row. I love the glue gun! At this rate, I might just become a "handygirl."

Laying wood floors is hard work. You want all the help you can get. So call out the big guns. Take a picture of them "helping" then put them to bed :-) The boys really wanted to help.

Ok, very bad picture here. I had to use the timer on my camera to get a picture of us both working on the floor together. Notice I have the glue gun again! Here we are about 2/3 of the way done. I must have been so exhausted when we finished, because I did not take a picture of the completed job. But, if I do say so myself, it looks pretty good. And, it does not squish when you walk across it.

Our current project is painting. The previous owner had an interesting sense of "style." And, well, ours is different. We started last weekend with priming the living room and front bathroom. This weekend we were going to "color" the living room and prime the hall. But, an extended family crisis put that on hold. So, maybe next weekend. We plan to be here a while; so there's no real hurry, except that I want to have a house warming party... eventually.

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