From the beginning there was one project Ian and I were going to do ourselves. I can’t actually tell you why we thought this was a good idea, looking back on it. I think saving money and feeling like we had some involvement in our renovation were the two main reasons. But after this weekend, I’d appreciate it if our project could just take my money and return my time. Thanks.
From day one, we decided to tackle the sanding, staining and sealing of the floors ourselves. We’d done this before with wild success and we felt comfortable taking on this project. It’s time consuming, but relatively simple, the perfect combo to save some cash and get involved.
Or so we thought.
The sanding part went fine. It was a throwback to the Hill Street House and all of the floor sanding we did there. I actually enjoyed putting on my old construction clothes, a face mask, some goggles, and getting to work. I forgot how mind-bogglingly boring and repetitive sanding the same spot over and over again can be, but stepping back every so often and looking at the overall changes made up for it. So did the beer breaks.
I was surprised how much I missed blasting our ‘Hair Bands’ Pandora station, getting completely covered in sawdust, and dragging around the monster sized shop vac all day. It was nice to roll up our sleeves (literally and figuratively) and dive right into a project, which was oddly relaxing. But detail work can do that to you – it forces all other matters of life into the peripheral and requires full attention to the task at hand.
But our relaxed and focused rhythm didn’t last all day. Halfway through Saturday we realized that the old wood floors weren’t losing all of their color. The varnish on the top layer was coming off just fine, something we could never say about the Hill Street flooring projects, but the actual color of the wood was not what we expected. And there’s no sanding that out.
After hours of test staining strips of old and new wood side by side, we realized our problem was two-fold. First, no stain was going to work the same on both the old and the new floors – we were going to need two stains. And one of them would probably have to be a custom mix. Second, I didn’t like how any of the stains looked on the old flooring. Matching them would be tricky, but do-able. However, not liking any of them was an un-fixable problem.
After much deliberation, hours of testing stains, and probably more stress than was necessary, we decided to bring in the experts. Monday morning I would meet with a stain expert to see what our options were as far as getting the yellow out of the old wood and matching the old to new. We have a plan B if staining them just won’t work. It’s not my favorite idea in the world, but it is a workable solution. More on that soon, if we have to go that direction.
There is something to be said for handing a project (and a lot of money) over to a contractor and saying, “here’s what we want, see you when it’s done,” and walking out the door. Not only do you hand over the physical labor, but also the planning, the stress, and the problem-solving. Unlike physical labor, there is no direct monetary value for these portions, but they matter – they weigh on you. And that’s what this weekend was all about. Yes we did some work, but more than that we did some head scratching, heavy sighing and lots of it.
Stay tuned, we’ll see where this goes… (eek)!