Last updated on June 13th, 2017
Fifteen years ago, when we purchased this old (1826) house, we turned one of the upstairs bedrooms into a library. The floor was already covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. I once lifted a corner of the carpet, only to discover the floor boards beneath were in terrible shape. “Not worth refinishing,” I thought to myself.
Enter Michael Kerner, the old-house flooring specialist who recently refinished our entrance hall. He lifted a corner of carpeting just as I had, and discovered, with his well-trained eyes, heart pine boards that maybe would require only minor repairs.
I remained skeptical. Who, after all, could predict what we’d find under other carpeted corners, and elsewhere in the room? Ugly plywood, perhaps? “Well,” said Michael, “there’s only one thing to do.”
With sweat dripping from our brows, we emptied the room of eight large bookcases, hundreds of hard-bound books, plus two couches, one chair, and a horrifically heavy, marble-topped coffee table. The bookcases were temporarily relocated to the upstairs hall. Furniture was crammed into other upstairs rooms.
As my heart thumped nervously (house projects always excite me), Michael — seen above, inserting a new razor into his cutting gadget — sliced away huge sections of carpet and under-padding. And what did he unearth?
He unearthed a couple of miracles, baby. Heart pine in the center of the room…
And old spruce under the window bay.
He also found 2,847,569 carpet tacks. Over the next few days, Michael removed every one of those tacks while I ate bon-bons and sipped champagne.
Once the tacks were raised, and every 19th-century nail was counter-sunk, and one badly-chipped floor board was flipped over, Michael proceeded to sand the floor. And after he sanded the floor, he sanded some more! Then he sanded yet again, just to remove his sanding marks.
What’s the sign of a good sanding-job? The floor should feel as smooth as glass when you swipe your finger against the grain.
We opted not to stain the floor, but to let the wood retain its natural color. The color deepened dramatically after MIchael applied a clear sealant.
The final step was to apply a matte finish of polyurethane. Poly is super-durable — a big requirement for me.
Here’s the library floor before the polyurethane dried. What a shine!
But I prefer the no-shine glow of the finished, dry floor.
Today, sans its wall-to-wall carpeting, the library feels both cleaner and healthier. A dry, microfiber dust mop removes both pet hair and dust. Scuff marks from shoes are quickly wiped away with a dry (or barely dampened) cloth. It’s an easy floor to maintain!
Got any repair or improvement projects scheduled for your own home? Talk to me in the comments field below.
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