Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Stained Past: The Story of The Hardwood Floors

Monday December 9th, I took our loaded up van and the girls and headed to my parents house.

I was loaded up with dishes and kitchen stuff. We were trying to keep costs down with moving...less for the movers to pack.

The girls did great! One of the best drives we've had from Iowa to Illinois. And knowing it would be the last definitely made me calmer during it. Any less than perfect moments were alleviated in my mind by saying "You never have to do this again."

Tuesday I headed straight to the new house. (Girls staying back with my mom.) And I had a goal of staining that day because we were desperately trying to get the floors done before the furniture gets there.
The timeline originally looked like this:

  • Sand-out the corners and bullnose above the entry
  • Stain
  • Let dry 48 hours
  • One coat of poly
  • Let dry 12 hours
  • Sand, coat, dry
  • Sand, coat, dry
  • Done

That's a ton to get done in two weeks, all on my own, alone.
Did I mention I've never done any of this before?

When I got to the house on Tuesday the weight of that, mixed with some monthly hormones coming in on the tail of a week of packing with a three and one year old around, and driving 8 hours in one day, then 1.5 to the house the very next....I emotionally died.

I tried to move a ladder over to work on the bullnose, but it was a different kind that can fold all sorts of ways and I didn't know how to use it, so it got stuck in a letter Z. Not useable.
The tools I had weren't right, so they kept coming apart, and actually melted at one point during sanding (yeah...it got returned...not right.)
And I was devastated that I wouldn't be staining that day...or actually in any of the days coming up. I had a ton to get done first!
I called my mom, my dad, and Blake and whine and or cried to all of them...a lot....many times that day. It was NOT good.
And I basically got nothing done due to the many issues I ran into.

Wednesday I got my head in the game, brought my dad's functional tool down, and got to work.

This part ending up taking the better part of three days -- nonstop sanding.

I needed to sand out all the corners and itty bitty edges of the rooms.
The sanding tool I used for days on end

My awesome sanding outfit

The bullnose I stood on a ladder to sand (and sand) ...it was SO beat up by the carpet staples. This was a TON of work. And my arms wanted to fall off. 

By Friday I was finally able to stain. Friday was now four days behind a tight schedule mind you...and I only got two rooms done.
Because by the time I could bust out the stain, I had to really rush to beat "the clock" of a snow storm rolling in.

Now I had read online prior that staining a DIY-sanded-floor can be tricky. And I was nervous to do it, but Blake and my parents kept telling me it would be fine. Blake had done it in our first house. It would be fine.

We had picked out Minwax's Dark Walnut because we thought it looked nice, would hide previous pet stains in the wood, and I had read on someone's blog that its dark without being so dark it shows everything.

I went for it. Did the best I could.
And the middle of the room looked nice.

The edges...
And where I overlapped in areas also looked bad -- see two lines running down the left side?
That website telling me that DYI staining with DYI sanded floors was not a good idea was not lying.

You sand the edge of the room with something called an edger (yeah...makes sense) and its harder to do, and so the stain shows all the flaws. Like a beacon of doom!

I came home and showed my parents this picture and my dad was like, "Oh, you can't leave it like that." 
And I just wanted to crawl in a hole.
I had worked two weeks on these floors now. (Carpet removal, sanding, detail sanding, and now stain.)
I didn't know what to do.

My dad ended up canceling all his plans and coming to my rescue.
I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't.
We were in a bad place now. One I didn't know how to get out.

We packed everybody up (My parents, me and the girls) and headed down to the house.
This was a crazy day anyway.
I had scheduled our new fridge to be delivered and so I needed to be there.
But there was a snow advisory out so I wasn't sure if I should go. But like I said, we packed it up and went. They roads actually weren't too bad at all. Especially the Interstate.

Once we got there
we put up a baby gate and let the girls play in the family room with toys and a tiny DVD player.
My mom was right around the corner helping get the kitchen in order.

 And my dad tried to fix the edges with a belt sander. He painstakingly worked the edge into a good state and then tried to stain it over.

even after that, the stain looked bad.
Not as bad.  It did look better.
But stain is like a highlighter for where the sander has been.
It showed all these new strange marks you don't want to have on your floor.

He tried all sorts of things.
But nothing was gonna get the floors and the stain to be friends.
So we called it.

No stain.
Going natural.

My poor dad.
He went out and rented the drum sander and the edger all over again 
and got the two rooms I stained back down to bare wood.
(I'm so glad I only had time to get two rooms stained before!)
Stain goes in deep, so it was a lot of work!
He worked into the night.
We all slept there on air mattresses.
Then he got up and sanded some MORE.

(-- Oh and that fridge I ordered...
Too much snow...
they got behind, so it didn't show up until Sunday morning.
So it really was a great thing that we spent the night! 
I wouldn't have been able to work it out otherwise.)

Here she is...the lovely lady

Anyway, after my dad sanded I shop vac-ed the floors to get rid of all the dust,
so he and I could get the first coat of Polyurethane on them.

That stuff is fume-a-licious!
That is not an easy job.
You have to make sure you get it done before the smell literally overpowers you. So you can't go slow or you will seriously pass out in there.
I poured and my dad pulled.
We did our best and hit the road.

Coat 1

Ok...so now the problem is... me and my dad realize there is no way I am going to be able to do a coat of this stuff on my own.
I am no where near fast enough at it to get it done without dying a fume-a-licious death.
And with Blake in Iowa, my mom watching the girls, my dad at work, and anyone else I know either at work or at home with babies (some with babies in bellies -- soo definitely not gonna put them in the fumes) there seemed to be no one to help me get this done.
But we are sooo close to the finish line....we can ALMOST pull off this mammoth task of finishing the floors before the furniture gets here.
But we just can't quite.
we called up some pros to see if they could do the last two coats for us.

They quoted a little higher than we would have hoped. But as a team, Blake, my parents, and I said lets just let them do it because its the only way. (And we still saved over having the WHOLE flooring event done by the pros.)

Ok so the plan was in place.
We hired someone.
He was gonna go get the spare keys from my realtor (we hadn't had time to go get them from her ourselves yet.) and just get it all done without me having to be there.
(He had already seen our floors before...when we got the original quotes.)

I can relax. Ahhhh.

Then this morning my phone rings.
Its my realtor telling me that they keys don't seem to be for the front door and there's no way for him to get to the back door. (Fence. Snow. They might not be to the back door anyway.)
I jumped in the car and drove an hour and a half to get him a key.
These floors...they don't let me rest.

I'm actually really glad we hired him because the minwax poly we used wasn't drying as fast as it is quoted to.So had we used that three times, there would be no way it would have been ready for furniture on time. The first coat was essentially dry after two days, but gummy in places when the pro sanded it.
He worked with it and made it all work. (He was nervous, but I think its all gonna work out...we hope.)
His coating stuff works so much better. It dries in just a few hours, not days.
Plus his product is a clearer color, which makes the wood seem more blonde and less orange. And THAT I really like. I was hoping to avoid orange.
Moral of his part of the story, Minwax Polyurethane is not the way to go.

He put the second coat on today. And will put the last coat on tomorrow.
And he even said he will come out on Thursday just to check on it and tell us if it's ready for furniture. (Which I think is awesome of him.)

So fingers crossed, prayers said...the floors SHOULD be move in ready for our furniture which will be arriving on Friday.

2nd coat. Still wet. Its satin, so it won't stay THAT shiny.

This hardwood floor refinishing...not my cup of tea!
If we are ever in a situation where we need to redo any more....I seriously hope we can hire it out.
And if not...there will be NO stain involved. And I will not be buying Minwax ploy. (This is where to buy the pro stuff. At least in Illinois. But you can see the brand you want anyway. If you can't get this stuff...he told me to get the stuff next to Minwax called "urethane" instead! Good to know!)

In other news...
like I said...the new fridge is here! Hurray!
We went with the freezer on top model...we both discussed and seriously like those better than any other options. Even the fancy french door. This suits us great. I've never lived with stainless...so I'm hoping the finger prints don't drive me nuts. I haven't really had any time to really even look at the fridge yet, ha, so who knows.

I also have the majority of the wall paper pulled down in the laundry room. (Sorry forgot pics.)
But it still needs a major scrub down in there -- filthy!

I also decided I'm going to paint the stairs as a temporary fix till we deiced what we are gonna do with them long term.
They don't seem made quite right, plus, outside of that, I kinda hope to be able to change them so we have a square landing instead of a curved corner of triangles...so they might need an overhaul before any hardwood might be applied.
And I have no idea when that will happen, so paint will make them visually acceptable for now.

I'm going white on the risers, and "charcoal sketch" (which is a greyed-version of black) on the treads. 
And I think I'm gonna paint the newel posts and the banister charcoal sketch too. (Keeping the spindles white.) But I'm not worried about those yet. I just wanna get the stairs done before we live in it, so I don't have to worry about foot traffic.
Wish me luck on getting it done on time -- as you just read, so far my track record isn't the best!

We almost have a home!! Yay!!
(I'm still in total denial. I just feel like I work there. I don't feel like its mine. Although putting the dishes away kinda helped.)


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