I’ve Made My Floor Decision.

It was the pine under the dining room floor that clinched it.

 

I’m ripping up the floors.

There are many of you gasping at this moment, many of you saying YES!! and many more of you wondering what you should have for dinner tonight.

I have 4 rooms on my lower floor and 4 different floorings. That’s a lot of different floors.  It bugged me.  Not a huge amount, I mean I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night, throw myself on the ground and start banging my fists and crying, but it did bug me a little bit.

What bothered me the most were the pine floors in my foyer which the previous owners put down for no apparent reason other than to match the adjacent living room floors.  They covered up strip maple with new, knotty pine from Home Depot thinking it would blend seamlessly with the 180 year old pine floors in the living room.  It did not.

It looked like new Home Depot knotty pine floor beside 180 year old pine floors.  So when I pulled up the knotty pine and found a beautiful floor underneath I was thrilled.  That elation lasted for about 30 seconds before my curious started jiggling.

I wonder what’s under the maple?  Turns out it was same 180 year old pine that’s in the living room.  Now I was in trouble.  But the maple looked good running into the oak of the dining room. They didn’t match per say but at least all the boards were going in the same direction.

Then I found pine under my dining room floor and all hell broke loose in my brain with eyeballs flying and facial twitches twisting.  After a few days of thinking about it I came to grips with who I am.

I’m Karen.  And I’m curious.  And I’d never be able to truly rest until I knew what the floors were like when they were brought down to their original glory.  Or grossness.  Regardless, I was going to have to find out.

Also I was forced into making a decision when my floor guy called me and said he’d be at my house to start work in a week.  12 hours after he called, my living room and foyer looked like this.

 

Which means my dining room became this …

 

Everything from the two front rooms got moved into my dining room so I could rip up the foyer floors, scrape the filler out of the living room floor cracks and have everything ready for the sander on Monday.

The floor sanders will have to do the job in 2 stages.  The first two rooms, and then the dining room because there is literally nowhere to put all the furniture to do all the rooms at once. The crack filler I’m talking about is the mixture of sawdust and glue that floor refinishers sometimes put in between large cracks in old floors.  It makes everything uniform and eliminates cracks.  However it also pops out in places after a season or two of contraction and expansion.

Over the years the half or even more of the crack filler will come out leaving the floors messy looking.

Without the filler the cracks are MUCH more noticeable, but also more authentic looking so I’m removing it all by hand and leaving the cracks as is once I redo the floors.

The original way of filling these cracks in floor boards was to push rope into them.  When the floor contracts and expands, the rope contracts and expands with the floors.  The point of the rope wasn’t just aesthetics. In fact, it mostly wasn’t aesthetics, it was to stop things from falling down cracks and to insulate any drafts from coming up.

Any of the filler that just pops out easily popped out itself years ago so the remaining stuff is hard to get out.  I’m using whatever tools I need to get the job done.  A carpet cutter, screwdrivers and in certain places my Dremel Multi-max.

For those of you who were worried about pine being too soft for flooring, it’s what all of these heritage homes had.  So if you love the original old features in this type of house (which I do) you embrace this pine.  Also, old growth pine like the original flooring found in these houses is much harder than any pine you’d find nowadays partly because it was old slow growth pine and partly because of the age of it.

So there you have it. After weeks of thinking about it and quite frankly knowing I’d end up doing this in the end,  I’m ripping my floors out.  Actually, I already have. Sometimes you just need to let yourself slowly come to terms with things.

Like the fact that once I ripped up the maple floors I realized I’d need to make some repairs to the pine floor.  Which meant I’d also have to rip up the pine.

K.  Rip up the pine, source antique floor boards, re-support and repair the pine floors and build a new threshold from foyer to the living room.  In two days.

In addition to ALL of that, and perhaps even worse – I have NO idea what I’m having for dinner.

Have a good weekend!

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I’ll be posting more as I rip out my floors.←

 

67 Comments

  1. You remain an awe-inspiring force of nature.

  2. Carolyn Schneider says:

    What are you doing with the wood from the floors you ripped out? New chicken coop?

  3. Kipper says:

    I’m wondering if an iron set at low steam or a heat gun could possibly loosen the glue/h2o filler more easily and not damage the wood. You are amazing!

  4. Melissa says:

    Oh! I pulled stuff out of the cracks between my old floor boards, too. Screwdriver worked the best, sometimes an exacto knife. Incredibly tedious but worth it.

  5. TucsonPatty says:

    It will be beautiful and worth it and I cannot wait to see it all. I have two weird thresholds from wood to concrete covered with acrylic paint finished to look like 18 inch tiles so there is no grout and no scrubbing of grout. Had a lot of stubbed toes before I figured out how to fix the transitions. Good luck.

  6. Sandi says:

    After a long emotionally exhausting day of being far too exposed to American political drama I will fully admit I was elated to see you had made a decision. My gut reaction to finding out your news was so strong I seriously wondered what was wrong with me. 😉 Thanks for the respite AND the great floor news. 🙏🏻

  7. Suzanne LH says:

    So here’s a toast to old floors! Clink

    Wish that’s what’s under my 100+ year old floors. But it’s not…
    Ah well.

    You go, woman, and enjoy the results.

  8. 100% the right decision. They are after all the original floors, so are automatically historically and aesthetically correct for the home. Anything else is just a poor attempt at modernisation.

    Poor you trying to get the filler out! Ironic isn’t it, I mean the damn stuff either falls out or needs dynamite huh?

    I’m lucky, I keep an old blade for my plunge saw (best tool on the the planet, nay, the universe!) just for that very job. 2mm wide blade and it cuts exactly where the edge of the guide rail is so it’s quick to position over the joints etc.

  9. Linda says:

    Thank you for a diversion from a miserable day here in the US. Tough times ahead.

  10. MrsChrisSA says:

    You are most certainly one brave sassy lady! I admire that!

  11. Grammy says:

    I figured you would do this. Because it’s what you do, and because it’s the right thing. Your floors are going to be so perfect. I, too, spent the day engulfed in the ugly drama of American politics today. Thank you for the palate cleanser — now I’m in the right frame of mind to enjoy eating lunch with my grandson tomorrow at Grandparents Day at his school.

    I look forward to seeing the finished floors.

  12. Sandi Remedios says:

    I am excited for you. I can’t wait to see the results!

  13. Kari in Dallas says:

    Now I want to know what goodies fell between the cracks over the years!
    (I’m a rip it up down to the original kind of girl)

  14. Lofchick says:

    I’ll make you dinner, come on over 😉

  15. Joyce says:

    I have birch, cherry, maple and random width pine on our various floors. Like a crazy quilt! The house is third hand to us but only 30 years old.
    I probably would not have been as brave as you.
    Joyce

  16. Ann Roberts says:

    I grew up in a house with pine flooring with large gaps between boards. Man, oh man did I hate that. The amount of dust that collected in those gaps was amazing and horrid on any allergies. And you will never have enough time to vacuum every single gap often enough to keep the dust down. Personally I would want the gaps to be refilled if at all possible.

    But otherwise it is a gorgeous looking floor considering how many layers of floor went down on top of some of it.

    • Karen says:

      You would NOT believe the amount of straight pins stuck in the gaps in one particular area in the living room, lol. It must have been the sewing corner for someone over the years. ~ karen!

  17. Marilyn Meagher says:

    It’s going to be beautiful.

  18. Karen says:

    Pizza of course!

  19. Darla Ragland says:

    I knew you couldn’t stand it knowing those pine floors were under there! They will look great!!

  20. Veronica says:

    I think we all knew this was the endgame. I keep thinking about all the different levels of floors. Does this mean that previously uneven transitions will become more or less even? Also, I’d like to come by in a couple of years to dig up all the loose change that’s going to go between the boards, please.

  21. Jody says:

    How are your knees and back? Have you been able to stand erect since you started your
    Big Autumn Project?

  22. Noreen McKechnie says:

    I’m the 100+year old house I grew up in the dining room floor had some kind of polished hardwood floor around the edge of the room and untreated wide pine under where the rug lay!

  23. Bunguin says:

    Too bad you live in Canada and I in US (Massachusettes) – I have a pile of old, old pine I salvaged from a room in my previous house and I couldn’t bear to throw it away. I still have it in the garage of my new(er) house.

  24. Stephanie says:

    No big surprise here! LOL!
    I would do the exact same thing and not worry about eating for the next 2 days!

    Congratulations on embracing your true nature!

  25. Sandra Brooks says:

    From the very first post I thought… this floor is getting ripped up. Knowing you, and knowing that you know that original pine floor was lurking under there… it was inevitable. And the right thing to do. Because you would’ve always wondered and, well, your blog is NOT called The Art of Wondering About Stuff now is it?!

  26. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Getting stuff out from between the cracks can be very satisfying…. kinda like popping pimples.

  27. Liza says:

    So glad you made this decision – now I can’t wait to see the finished floors!

  28. Bryonna says:

    Your house is so lucky to have you as her owner. She continues to grow more and more beautiful thanks to your vision and very very hard work

  29. Cussot says:

    I’m with you on this. If it weren’t for my husband, I would have dug down to my original floors long ago. Must be an archeological instinct or something.

  30. Jeanne says:

    I was certain you would do this. I know my Karen well. If my knees would let me I would come help you. I want to defect from US anyway. It’s gonna be great to watch the process of your floors; not so much government in the US.

  31. linda in Illinois says:

    you will love the floors.. I know you will be much happier. Document everything you find, it is such a great adventure, like a time capsule. I’m very excited.

  32. Shawna says:

    thank you for doing this now. We are *just* (3 days) finished patching our strip oak floors, weaving in repairs and extended the old wood into the kitchen. now there are only 2 types of flooring on the main floor. Initially everyone was skeptical – why go to all that work to install old flooring?
    The verdict: I LOVE IT. LOVE IT.
    My prediction: you will LOVE IT!!!

    good luck with all your work!

  33. danni says:

    yeah, I saw that decision coming a mile away… good for you, love the look of old wood, and the marks don’t bother me, just makes me wonder who walked these floors so long ago….
    I just cant figure where you find the time with harvesting and canning and freezing still going on!

  34. CONNIE VOLKMAN says:

    You are a brave and energetic woman. It will be beautiful.

  35. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Getting the stuff out from between the cracks can be very satisfying…. kinda like popping pimples 😏

  36. Marion says:

    You’re absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to see the final product, I know the floors will be lovely.

  37. Tessa Ryan-Lipp says:

    If authenticity is your goal, maybe you should be looking into oakum to caulk your floors?

  38. Mary W says:

    YEA!!!! As Lois Barron (1st comment) put it so well – you are a force of nature. I would have to add that the filler also keeps spiders from crawling up. Or in your case, centipedes or millipedes, or thousand legged whatevers.

  39. Mia says:

    Don’t you usually have a huge project going as you approach Thanksgiving in Canada? Well then, you were obligated to rip up the floors 🙂

  40. Catherine Naulin says:

    Oh Karen!
    You are SO SO brave! I can’t even face redoing our kitchen and dining room floors ’cause I’m flat out tired just thinking of the work before, during and after. I need a little of your energy. Can I have some PLEASE?
    Bravo on your decision. It’s going to look spectacular. Can’t wait to see the results
    As for filling crack between wood boards, I refinished a very old farm table this summer and left the cracks open. I now store a small paint brush in the drawer to get rid of stray bread crumbs. It works for me, and I love the look.

    Bon courage!

    Catherine

  41. Carole says:

    When we married, we moved to my husband’s family farm. For me that was moving from Fort Lauderdale to 13 miles from the St. Lawrence River in NY. The house was built in the 1840’s. Living room and parlor had wide old floorboards with large area rugs (not wall to wall, not tacked down). If someone opened the outside cellar door when the wind was blowing the right way, the rugs would rise in the center of the rooms, adding years of dust to everything. Our boys thought it great fun! I am sure your old floors will make you happy.

    • Tina says:

      We had an old house in Oregon. When my mother and dad refinished the old floors, my mother picked up the bits and pieces of candles at the church for months. Then she scrapped the wax in between the floorboards to stop the draft. I suppose it worked because 30 years later it was still fairly tight. But I love the idea of using old rope, too.

      • Karen says:

        That’s an interesting idea! I wonder if she dripped the candle wax as opposed to scraped it? ~ karen!

        • Tina says:

          I believe she scraped it as all of those candles then had flat edges. She also used old candles, rubbing them on the edges of the drawers and pull-out cutting boards so they’d slide easily. Then they sanded the floors a final time, the heat from the sander may have melted the wax, somewhat.

  42. Julie says:

    It is the right thing. If you’re going to do it right, you have to start…by doing it right. I’m jealous you’re “only” doing the floor. We have THREE ceilings in our bathroom for some god-forsaken reason. Le sigh…

  43. Valerie says:

    Excellent decision. You will be very happy if you put down new fir flooring – I know you probably want to locate antique wood but new fir wood has a classic look that can appear modern or antique – depending on your eye.

  44. Bonnie G. says:

    You are going to love those floors! Do be sure to cover the furniture even if it is moved to another room – there will be lots of dust. I am looking forward to the result!

  45. Lisa says:

    That’s exciting! I’m all for it. Looking forward to the reveal.

  46. Heather says:

    Can’t wait to see the final results. Good luck!

  47. Laura says:

    Can’t wait to see how they turn out. And how timely! We want to refinish our original hardwoods to a color that is NOT honey oak… I hope you do a post on different stains and how they age. When I chose honey oak, I never realized it would look orange as it aged. The guy who did them also used a poly seal on them, and it scratches so easy and looks gummy. Yuck! Now I want a change and something more timeless. And I always trust your advice!

  48. Suel Anglin says:

    Hey Karen!

    I am so grateful to be able to live vicariously through your many projects. The only advice your cousin from down south would offer, cover everything else in the place well. When that ancient wood dust gets loose… Oh, please take excessive amounts of pictures as things move along accompanied by thoughtful and smart-ass commentary.
    I can’t wait!

  49. Lynn says:

    Truly no doubt in my mind you were going to go for original pine once you saw it. An yes old pine is harder than what we have nowadays. If possible use plastic and tape to keep the dust down to a minimum, it will still get everywhere just hopefully not as bad with out this step.
    Oh an don’t forget to stuff your vents full otherwise after you just keep getting dust clouds for ever. That’s if you have forced air heating or cooling….

  50. danni says:

    I was 100% certain you were gonna do it. Looks like the right call! Congrats!

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