Nothing says Welcome Home like tools, extension cords, sanding dust, ladders, and messes. At least that’s what I’ve decided this summer, because in our home…
…the entryway, and so many other places, are littered with these accoutrements.
We’re in the process of a DIY floor refinishing project. When we bought our 1871 home in Upstate New York, every inch of floor (and stair- and there are both a front and back staircase) was painted dark chocolate brown. A carefully lettered sign: “Please Remove Your Shoes” taped on the front door by the realtor was the clue that all would not be well with the paint. Indeed, within a few weeks of moving in it was peeling everywhere, even though we DID remove our shoes, always having done so at home. Worse, where the paint peeled between floorboards, a hard white, chalky substance was revealed, creating a strange animal print with patches and stripes… definitely not the look we were going for.
We began to discuss ideas for stripping the floors, removing the white stuff, and refinishing with a proper stain and perhaps poly. But did I mention EVERY INCH in the 2200 square foot house was covered with paint? The task was daunting; we discussed it for years. Finally, two summers ago while I was away for a few days, The Big Man (my husband) rented a drum sander and got to work. Three passes in each downstairs room took off the paint and revealed lovely, knotty soft pine. We marveled at being the first to see it in decades- there were up to five layers of paint in some places!
We then started the slow process of removing the white stuff. We tried several methods and tools (including a grout grinder attached to an electric drill), but the best was the most old-fashioned: on hands and knees, or butts, tediously “chinking out” the white with paint scrapers, hammers and screwdrivers used as chisels. We’ve spent most of our spare moments the past two winters getting it out.
But there was still more work before we could think about a new finish: Notice the exposed ends of the stairs in the picture above: paint somehow had to be removed from all those detailed angles and corners. At a yard sale last summer, I bought a heat gun, glory be. The Big Man used it to remove paint on the stairs, and I used it in corners, around molding, and on thresholds. Probably the best five bucks I’ve ever spent. After all the paint was off, everything had to be sanded again- with an electric hand sander where possible, or increasingly arthritic hands where not.
By now, we are intimately acquainted with our floors, and we are days away from actually being able to lay down color. We’ve discussed that for years as well, and are experimenting with different products for the best results. More on that to come.
Though I did mention… we’ve only done the DOWNSTAIRS rooms (and the stairs). It will likely be another year before the upstairs is complete, due to the slow tedium of chinking out the white. But it feels GREAT to have gotten this far.