The Great Foyer Floor Debacle. Part 3

The final process of my foyer floor.  I know. You’re getting sick of it.  Well imagine how I feel.

The new threshold I built with antique barn board against the very orange living room floor pre-refinishing.

To recap.  A couple of weeks ago I completely lost my mind, the result of which was ripping out my foyer floor. On a whim. On a Saturday morning when any sane person would be eating their weight in bacon. The foyer floor was relatively new (in my 180 year old house), had a horrible finish and I’ve never liked it.

So I pulled up one little piece of it out of curiosity.  Then, like a possessed Chucky doll, I whirled around the room with a prybar ripping floor boards out, splitered remnants of wood flying through the air in my wake.

Beneath was a lovely, glowing maple slat floor. I was satisfied for exactly one minute and 37 seconds, at which point I started considering what might be under that floor.

So I ripped it up too.

Which brings us to the original(ish) pine floor which was revealed. When last we met it was Sunday night and I had just finished hammering down the boards on the area I patched with nails I had to steal from my sister.


8:00 a.m.

My floor refinisher shows up, refers to me as Mighty Mouse and says he knew I’d get it done.

I point out the horrifying difference between some of the boards I’ve laid and how without sanding down the joists, I couldn’t get them to lay flush with the rest of the floor.

Nooooooo problem he said.

O.K.  I wish I’d known that last night because instead of crying myself to sleep I could have counted Kardashians like I normally do.

9:00 a.m.

Sanding guys arrive and start sanding floors.



Sanding is finished realize the hemlock is a totally different colour than my other foyer floor.

9:00 p.m.

Fret over colour of patch job. I’m not sure why I’m fretting. It’s an old house with a billion different types of old original flooring, none of which matches perfectly.

Decide to try bleaching it.



8:00 a.m.

Check flooring and discover bleaching changes tone of wood but does lighten it.



Bleach floor by simply soaking a cotton rag with a bit of bleach and wiping it on to the wood, making sure to push it into the grain.

Let dry.


Wish I had lots of visually impaired friends to invite over because they would walk in and declare my house cleaner than they’d ever smelled it.



Got my hair done because that’s what one does whilst in the middle of a disaster.

7:00 p.m.

Scraped out dirt from boards.  Need to get my hair done again. Estimate 72 pounds of dirt found in boards plus 1,894 straight pins.  This area must have been the home to a sewing circle of very drunk pioneer women.

9:00 p.m.

Applied first coat of sealer.


4:00 a.m.

Woke up to look at floor. Stared at it through blinking, sleepy eyes.  Realized sealer made floor darker which it wasn’t supposed to. In fact was guaranteed not to.  Had FIT. Decided now (4:00 a.m.) was as good a time as any to continue on with the next step.  Sanding.

Grabbed sandpaper and started sanding.  Once both the living room and foyer were sanded I contemplated going back to bed for a while.

Because I was now wide awake I decided going back to bed was stupid. Since stupid is my new normal …

5:00 a.m.

Went back to bed.


9:00 a.m.

Woke up, vacuumed, went over floor with damp cloth. Did first coat of my actual floor finish.  Sequestered to kitchen for 2 hours while finish dries enough to sand.


4:00 p.m.

Apply final coat of matte finish.

Does not appear matte.  I’m starting to feel a bit, um, nauseous.  So far the floor is darker, yellower and shinier than I wanted.

Apply another coat of matte finish to see if that makes it mattier.

7:00 p.m.

Go to bed because what the hell else am I going to do? Watch tv online for a bit, fall asleep snuggled up with my toasty warm laptop and hairy cat.


Either I, or my floors have calmed down.  Love them.

The end.

This weekend I’ll reinstall the quarter round I had to remove and fix some areas that are now a bit curious because my foyer floor is almost 2″ lower than it was a couple of weeks ago.

So I’m going to have to fix some trim work.

All of this, the sweat, the tears the tearing up.  All a smaller price to pay for being able to have a 2″ taller Christmas tree every  year.


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  1. Aimee says:

    Oh my god, I want to see those floors! 😜

  2. Melody says:

    So, how messy is the sanding part? I’m having my wood floors sanded Monday. Floor dude says he has a special vacuum attachment and it’s not so messy. Don’t think I believe him.

    • Karen says:

      It wasn’t messy at all. I took everything out of both rooms including art work. They covered my bookshelves with plastic as well as my chandelier. Then they put plastic over any doorways into other rooms. There really wasn’t much dust to clean up at all and frankly I think most of the mess was from me pulling up and repairing my floors. ~ karen!

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m still puzzled on why you ripped up the lovely, glowing maple slat floor.

    • Karen says:

      Because the whole point of it all was to get to the original pine floors. I revealed them in the upstairs when I first moved in. The living room was already revealed when I bought the house. That just left the foyer and the dining room. The only reason I would have left the maple is if I thought there was a really good chance the pine flooring underneath was unusable. I took a calculated risk and went for the pine floors. Now the house has the same (original to when it was built in the 1800’s) floors throughout the house and they’re even all going in the same direction, lol. ~ karen!

  4. gabrielle says:

    Oh I feel the pain. I’ve got an Ontario gothic farmhouse (1870) with a centre hallway that is 22ft of original boards that needed refinishing when I moved in. Except for the patch job which turned out to be an extremely dark cedar.

    In the subsequent 30 years I’ve learned to live with it. Also where the front door frame doesn’t go down to the floor. Plus a lot of other stuff too.

    My last words on earth will probably be: thank god it’s somebody else’s problem now.

  5. p says:

    You floor me!

  6. Deborah says:

    I ripped out the wall to wall carpeting in my 1892 house to find plywood covered holes, damaged areas and paint on most (probably lead based, which also influenced my decision to let Refinisher with hepa filter sanders re-do them). Bought salvage yellow pine to more or less match (from old house demos), but the amount of repairs needed (every room) was more than I wanted to take on.
    So hired refinishing co to patch etc.
    Finally decided on Pallman’s Magic Oil.
    Terrible name, but a great product.
    Very low VOC and odor, dries quickly, and soaks into the wood as it is a oil finish with hardeners added.
    Used clear/matte finish, and love it.
    Yes, it is a deep yellowish orange, but as the only warm tone in the rooms it looks phenomenal and absolutely nothing like any new flooring, no matter how high-end. Yes, there are boards of heart pine much darker than the rest, and the patch boards sometimes do not quite match, but hardly noticeable now.
    I also scraped out the filler between boards, as it does keep popping out anyway, despite all refinishers who gave me bids saying “don’t/looks bad/I will hate it and then I t will be too late change after refinishing”. Wrong!!!! Love the gaps, the old hand made nail heads winking at me here and there.
    Well worth the money to get 2,000 sq ft plus 2 flights of stairs done.
    If you have an old floor under there, be brave and think about refinishing. Don’t be dissuaded by the it will look bad arguments regarding nail holes and the like. These are some of the most beautiful floors I have ever seen, and they look “right” in my old house.
    Feel guilty about farming out this job, but conserving MY energy for plaster/drywall/trim refinishing/electric upgrades/etc.
    Old houses are never finished, but always charming and unique.

  7. Marie says:

    Thank you for distracting me from Trump these past few days. I’m sorry you had to tear up your house to do so.

  8. Nancy Ann Page says:

    Judy! Cheer up! If the bugs are fleas, in only six months they will be gone….that’s how it was with me with the help of a many-degreed veterinarian, several applications from a bug control company, constant vacuuming, shampooing my dog and my hair everyday. I couldn’t help it, he is a little 20 lb orphan who’s blind and sleeps with me….

    Nancy Ann

  9. Mary W says:

    Hey, 2 inches can make a world of difference! Yea for the Christmas tree. Yea the worst is done. I can not wait to see if all finished. When is Canadian Thanksgiving? Over or to come? Is that why you are waiting till the weekend – to get guests to help? LOL

  10. Elaine A. Senft says:

    hi Karen…looks like we’re all waiting here with bated breath!, did I spell that right??? …I’m exhausted too!!! this Friday to come! …yea….

  11. Lise Cameron says:

    Hi Karen…I think that your floors will be beautiful and it will have been worth all your frustrations and hard work..I cannot wait to see the end result….Could you please email me your cream of corn recipe as I would love to make a pot full..I always look forward to seeing you first thing in the morning…Cheers…

  12. Vanessa says:

    I’ve been lurking and enjoying your adventures for a short while. Thank you, your emails are ones I always click through on. (…not sure about that grammar but I just got back from Saskatoon so I’ll go with it as is)
    But I gotta ask…what are you going to make with all that maple?

    • Karen says:

      I’ve made a nice contribution to the dump. :) It was broken and couldn’t be reused without a lot of time and effort and I have to pick my battles with time and effort. ~ karen!

  13. Erika says:

    This is better than waiting for the next episode of Game of Thrones (ok. well, almost. Mostly because it’s been so long since last season and last one it’s not soon yet.) In the meantime, i’m as excited for the grand finale as i would for Game of Thrones. Shoud have done like for the show, keeping a precious wine in waiting for that particular moment. Wait i’m pregnant now. Guess i’ll just treat myself to a rare coffee to read the floor reveal friday !

  14. shawna says:

    We found that after the 4th coat of sealer, somehow the colours and finish just seem to soften and meld. Not after the 1st or 2nd, but the 3rd. so weird.
    Congratulations on your floors!!!!

  15. Debbie says:

    What I want to know (and I know your floors are “done”–is anything ever “done?”), is did you have to host Thanksgiving dinner as well as going through all of this? Inquiring minds want to know….if so, yikes! I really feel for you!

  16. Karen says:

    “Home to a sewing circle of very drunk pioneer women”😂😂😂

  17. Emily R says:

    What’s the plan for the floor in the dining room?

    Can’t wait to see the reveal.

  18. Mia says:

    Two days–that’s like forty-eight hours! Except not really. It’s after 8:30am on Wed, and you post around midnight. So subtract for that, plus for the day between and ……noooo too much math with hours vs days. I’m back to original statement: We have to wait 2 more days?!!

  19. Hillary Windrem says:

    All of this and no finished picture?? You sadist!

  20. Katie C says:

    Now, Karen, really. Did you know you can just hop over to Home Depot (well, Canada’s version of that) and get wood flooring–real or even fake!– installed in, like, two days? No vomiting or additional quarter round needed. Or any physical effort, really. Just a thought. :-D

  21. Kari in Dallas says:

    Oh. My, Gawd, Karen!

    I’m glad you love them, but holy freaking shit, what an ordeal. Can’t wait to see the, finished!

    • Karen says:

      Yeah. Tiny bit of an ordeal, lol. Just a tiny bit. It’s making me rethink EVER getting any sort of addition. ~ karen!

  22. Heather says:

    Mighty Mouse is a good nickname for you. Then again, maybe not. You’re certainly mighty but I would never ever think of you as mousy. Way to go, Karen. Your energy is supernatural! Love it! Nice floors too! Makes me wonder why I don’t just get on with painting my bathroom ceiling.

    • Karen says:

      You’re spending way more time and energy *thinking* about painting your bathroom floor than you ever would by just painting it. I know this because I do the same thing every year with my taxes. :) ~ karen!

  23. Teri on the Wet Coast says:

    Awaiting the reveal with bated breath.
    You are amazing! I’m ‘handy’ and own real tools but I want to be you when I grow up.

  24. billy sharpstick says:

    So, what happens to that two inch step, to keep from tripping over it?

    • Karen says:

      The only place other than the trim work where there’s a 2″ transition is into the dining room (and actually it isn’t 2″ it’s quite a bit lower) and that floor being pulled out to get to the pine below too. Yep. ~ karen!

  25. Emily R says:

    So exciting!

    But what about the dining room floors?

    I’m also excited to see how you addresss the trim. I have a similar issue from an old settling house.

  26. Patricia Dejean says:

    I am happy to know that I’m not the only one who scrapes out the cracks in their floors. I cannot tell you how much fun it is to get the rice grains out of the kitchen floor. Or the spaghetti. My cracks range from cappellini to fettucini sized. There are days I dream of a smooth linoleoum surface. But then it would have to be old lino with big roses around the border! I keep thinking perhaps I should fill all the
    cracks with various sizes of pasta and varnish over them in order to create a sweepable surface. The straight lines of the pasta might blend well with the straight grain of the Douglas fir. I’m happy to hear your floor is coming along. Been there, done that. And still have more rooms to do…. Pat

  27. Ann Brookens says:

    Wait! Where’s the picture of a finished floorboard? YOU’RE MAKING US WAIT????
    Also, how much dirt did you vacuum out of those cracks, anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.

  28. TucsonPatty says:

    I am having a hard time cleaning my kitchen table right now. I am still up at 3:00 a.m. – if that helps. Busy NOT clearing the kitchen table, or cleaning the rest of the house… You are amazeballs, Karen.

  29. Brian Campbell says:

    You have a great sense of humor. I too, am going to tackle my foyer. House was built in 1950…. wish me luck.
    Your admirer, Brian Campbell
    Fort Wayne Indiana.

  30. Valerie says:

    Ok-it’s “your”. Not “you’re”. It’s late. I’ve had a really hard day. But obviously not as hard as yours-so no idea what my excuse is.
    But actually, now that I mention it, I’d like to itemize what I did today and what went wrong-just to introduce an additional bit of humility to your process. But I’m too tired to go over it.

    • Karen says:

      I do get a lot done but my house is in a perpetual state of disaster either inside or out because of it. I don’t think I’ve gone more than a couple of weeks without something being ripped apart and eating peanut butter out of the jar for dinner. Your, you’re, yore friend karen!

  31. Valerie says:

    Your process reminds me of the time when I had to take massive does of steroids and suddenly found myself painting the basement at 2am. Difference is…you’re project is huge, disruptive, and you’ve kept up this manic work pace for how may days? And I thought I got the award for cra cra. Regardless, can’t wait to see finished product. You are a warrior princess and I would marry you if I would marry anyone.

  32. judy says:

    I am exhausted and speechless,at a loss for words and just wondering what it is about you that makes you like a hurricane or tornado or a mystical perpetual motion machine. I am so impressed with your brilliance and accomplishments that I am going to bed even though I have to sleep with the dog with bugs. Bugs that love me. Can’t keep her off the bed because she launches into howling like a banshee and will not stop. I have never ever given a pet back that I adopted but this 15 lb monster is pushing her luck. Gnite

  33. Laura says:

    Can’t wait to see the finished floors. My new house (closing tomorrow) has old splitting oak floors that likely cannot be refinished again. I decided I would try to whitewash them, and my handyperson almost threw something at me. I did point out that if I was planning on replacing them anyway, might as well be creative. But now you’re inspiring me to patch the damn things. Sigh. Either way, can’t wait to see YOUR floors.

    • Karen says:

      If they can’t be refinished again but are smooth you could always paint them. Painted floors in old houses also look great. ~ karen!

  34. Catt-in-Kentucky says:

    I’m exhausted! How are you doing?😘

  35. Laura says:

    I love your process & a happy ending. Not loving the delayed gratification!!

  36. Liz says:

    Hi Karen
    Have you decided not to leave the pine floor naked -you know nothing on it?
    I sanded my dining room pine floor and just left it. I love the look and the feel of it. I can’t wait for the reveal!!

  37. Kippy says:

    You are amazing. I would have curled up into a ball, sobbed and then called flooring professionals to do the work. Mighty Mouse? More like Wonder Woman.

  38. Julie says:

    Amazing! You’re going to love the fact that you decided to “go all the way” with the floors and take them all up. Even tho’ there were tears and (I’m assuming a little liquor) the result will be just as you had hoped. Congratulations on the bouncing baby floor!

  39. Suzanne says:

    Whoa Nelly, did I miss a photo of the finished floor? The suspense is killing me!!!

  40. Sandy says:

    Whew!! So glad you love the floors. Can’t wait to see the final results. Sure they’re going to be gorgeous. Off to bed whilst awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Michael in The Villages, FL…former Stoney Creek/Hamilton resident.

    • Karen says:

      Awaiting the hurricane? Aren’t you supposed to get out?? Get out! ~ karen!

      • billy sharpstick says:

        Nah, she’s down by Disney World. They’re protected by a magic bubble.

        • Sandy says:

          Magic bubble?…lol…that’s what we call it here. Funny story, we were on our way to Pensacola Beach from Memphis (on a road trip) when I called the condo & was told emphatically DO NOT COME HERE. Bad idea, so we came home…to the magic bubble.

        • Karen says:

          Oh that’s true! I didn’t think of that. ;) ~ karen!

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