The Middle Part

There are three phases to any project. There is the beginning phase when you are excited about the outcome, have enough energy to run a marathon; full speed ahead. Your momentum is high and so are your spirits. There is the final phase, where you see it all coming together, just a few finishing touches and you are ready to roll. Gratification at it's finest. Unfortunately, there is this long grueling, frustrating middle part. It typically lasts the longest and makes you never want to DIY something again in your life. But then this silly final phase makes you forget all of that, it's strange...

Well, this was a spot on analogy to refinishing the hardwood floors we found under the carpet. I started on a Tuesday morning, excited about the end product of beautifully refinished floors. First thing in the morning I was at Home Depot to rent, what I thought, and was confirmed by mr HD employee, was the proper sander to sand down my floors and prep them for a fresh coat of polyurethane. I hauled the machine into my house (it is NOT a light object, bruises on my legs will prove this). Put on the sanding pad and got to work. The sun was shining, the floors looked like they were being sanded, all was well in the world.

After you sand 'the field' as the peeps in the biz call it, you need to sand the edges. For this, an Edger comes into play. This is a small spiral sander which is pretty hard to maneuver. After edging one run with the edger I knew something was wrong. The edger was taking SIGNIFICANTLY more off the wood than the sander was. I called around to a few places and the wonderful people at Pete's Hardwood Floors told me that the peeps at Home Depot gave me THE WRONG SANDER. This was after six hours of sanding! The edger was doing it's job, but the sander was not sanding deep enough. Feeling defeated, I returned the equipment to HD, made plans to get the correct sander on Saturday and poured myself a cocktail...

Fast forward to Saturday. I woke up stressing about the floors. You see, sanding is a very important task in this process and can basically make or break your floors. Polyurethane will show all marks. It's like a highlighter for your floors. I hauled to HD to pick up the correct sander and edger and dragged them into my house. I could immediately tell the difference. The Drum sander got down to where the edger was hitting. Things were looking up. Each room needed 3 swipes with both the sander and the edger. You start with a really harsh grit of sand paper to remove the previous stain/poly (36 grit) and work your way up to a finishing grit (80-100grit), in both the field and the edges. Unfortunately, the edger cannot reach the corners of a room, those have to be done by hand. Thank the lord for my parents for keeping me sane and helping me sanding out the corners of each room!

Finally, the middle part of the project was nearing the end. Sunday afternoon we considered the floors to be 'done' with the sanding portion and put on the sealer. I am using the Dura-Seal line which has one coat of sealer (seen in picture below), and two coats of polyurethane. At last, we are at the final stages of the project. The floors look beautiful and are drying as I type. This step makes me forget the long hours of sanding floors on my knees."Oh, i'd totally refinish floors again!" haha jk lolz. Maybe once my fingers heal and my brain completely forgets the middle part. Although, it is pretty satisfying knowing I saved around 4k in this whole process... silver lining :)

I'm always SUPER stylish, BTW. #safetyfirst

So now just two coats of poly (drying 24 hours between) and these babies will be DONE.

oh, p.s. see anything wrong about this photo?

It's kinda hard to see, but under the window there? A HOLE in my wood floors?! You see, back in the day wood floors were installed, and then some interior designer was like "CARPET IS ALL THE RAGE INSTALL IT EVERYWHERE" which was AWESOME for me because it kept these floors in legit condition. However, HVAC vents were in the floors, which were to be covered by carpet. So they boarded that up and relocated (why?) the vents (seen above covered by paper towels and tape!) to a new location leaving holes.

This just wouldn't do.

So! Off I went to Bauer Brothers Salvage in North Minneapolis. This place is AWESOME. When homes are to be renovated/demolished they deconstruct (#thesistopicforthewin) the homes and bring all the amazing historical pieces there. INCLUDING some red oak flooring, which is not sold in 1 1/2" anymore. So after digging through bins for an hour I found enough to patch the three holes I had in my floors.

Ugh, it looks so easy with just two pictures. After measuring the three panels to cover, and correcting the depth of the subfloor to fit the new wood, I cut the pieces down to size. There were nails in all the pieces, most were rusted. So I spent an hour or so getting those out. Then fit them in and nailed them down. Super not fun, but super worth it. Once they are sanded down they will fit in muuuch better to their nearby red oak friends!

Swipe and Seal

Let's take a break in the big-overhaul projects and focus on a tiny little one that can save you from future big projects! Water. Water gets everrrryywhheere, and you need to make sure you are controlling this throughout your house. If water gets into places it shouldn't, it will start to rot/mold/bring on horrible things. So, look at all the places water is used (kitchen/bathroom, for starters) and look around the edges of your shower and counter tops. These joints need to be sealed. If they are not, water will wiggle it's way into the cracks, and into the cavity of your wall where it will have a water party turning the inside of your wall into all kinds of nasty. You won't notice this, until mold grows, or walls start to warp/rot. Not fun stuff. AND, it can all be prevented with a little tube of caulk. SO. Run over to the hardware store and grab a tube of caulk (comes in a few colors, we chose white) and some painters tape.

**note: if you are preggers, wear a mask. This junk has a nasty stench to it that you don't want your babies to huff

Our subject matter is my sister's countertops, see where the cracking/crumbling is? Water will get in there, it just, does. SO, tape the perimeter so you can get a nice finished edge when you are done. Leave enough room for the caulk to fill the edge, but not look like a huge line of caulk. Ya want it to be there, but not THERE.

Squirt a line of caulk along the joint. Wet your finger and press the caulk into the join smoothing it out a bit. Have some paper towels on hand to wipe off the excess.

Then, while it's still wet, remove the painters tape and marvel at your beautiful caulk line!

It's a nice little winter project, ya know, while we are stuck in this vortex of frigid weather, why not seal up our house a bit!

Just keep digging...

Once the cabinet was out of the bathroom, we needed to dig down to the floor boards to start with a fresh slate. The concrete was already cracking, as you saw, and I didn't want to risk tiling over it and having cracked tile in a year. I'd cry, and have to start back at square one, which sounds horrible. So, knowing that I'd have to tackle a few inches of concrete, I asked the guys at work (we specialize in concrete) what the best way for me to demo this. After a few suggestions involving dynamite, we settled on a chipping hammer. So that night I went to Home Depot to rent one. While renting it, I got a few "is it just you using this?" "If it were me i'd take this one, but you should take this one" and I settled on the smallest chipping hammer they had (I need to lift more weights, apparently)

This thing worked great. A project I didn't expect (but hoped!) to get done in one night actually happened. It works like a little jack hammer drilling into the cracks in the concrete. It broke it up into smaller manageable pieces that we could pry up with a crowbar.

Piece by piece we dug them all up until we saw the wire mesh. This was hiding under the concrete and was held down by little nails. We popped those up and ripped the mesh out to reveal the floor boards.

Such a glorious sight. the next step is to clear out the sides to make room to install the sub floor and underlayment which the new tile will rest on. To remove the perimeter tiles carefully, as to not ruin the wall tiles I used a mini-crowbar and a hammer to chip away at the grout. Then once it started to wiggle, I would reach behind the tile and slowly pry it out.

And now we are all set to install the subfloor! But that project is going to wait a bit while we handle some plumbing issues and make those wood floors we uncovered all new and pretty. T-minus one week until I move in, so hopefully this stuff gets done in record time! Cross your fingers for me :)


Carpet in the bathroom is so....last weekend.

I hated the carpet in the bathroom so much that I didn't even have time to take a good enough picture of it before I was ripping it out. You can see a little of it in the picture below. Same color as the toilet seat cover, so that was festive. 

I grabbed the corner and started peeling it back. Prior to ripping my HOPE was that the carpet would come up, I could chisel the carpet glue off the pristine tile, and the floors would be awesome and done. Silly, silly girl. 

Started out okay, then this.

Which, looking at the photos LOOKS okay. However when you walk on the tile there was a nice....crunch. Water had gotten under the tile (probs from soaking in the carpet) and damaged the adhesion. So, simple fix, chisel the tile off, and re tile. BOOM easy. haha...jk lolz.

The tile came up super easy (victory!) unfortunately, mr.homeowner not only tiled under the vanity, but then build the vanity to withstand a bull trampede. So that was sups fun to remove. I didn't want to sledge hammer the thing because the bathroom has this weird angle-wall-door situation where a standard vanity wouldn't fit. I could just install a pedestal but then I would loose ALL the storage in the bathroom. So salvaging the vanity was crutial for a happy functional bathroom.

So. Step one, remove vanity. This required a trip to the HD (second of the day!), the sink wasn't installed with a shut off valve, which would have been OKAY if this would have been an hour fix, but we knew it wouldn't. So we removed the cabinet, installed shut off valves which brought us here...

In older homes, for whatever reason, people used galvanized metal pipes. What is a bummer about those is that these pipes rust, so water flow decreases over time and you might see a nice amber color in your sink (rust). This is the case in my house. The home inspector let me know that water flow in the house was low but not detrimental, so I knew at some point these pipes might have to be replaced. After ripping everything up, we thought it might be a good time to get a quote for these babies to be replaced, stay tuned for that awesome mess.

BUT! The fun doesn't stop there. After ripping up the tile, we removed the toilet so new tile could go in. Unfortunately, under the tile is about 2 inches of concrete with a wire mesh...

 It ALLL needs to magically come up so I can put new underlayment down and install the new tile. 

Looks like I have a date with a chipping hammer!

Carpet removal: Round 1

First on the list was removing the carpet on the first floor. I want to refinish the floors before I move in to save myself from saw dust in my ears and varnish up my nose and into my brain.

Tools needed for successful de-carpeting party to occur:

Removing carpet is pretty straight forward, you use a crow bar to loosen the corner of the carpet.

Peel it back and rip it off the perimeter nail beds. A good yank should do it. 

Use a utility knife to cut out sections. We cut sections around 4' wide to make them easier to carry around. Then, just roll them up and haul them out. The carpet pad comes up pretty easily. Grab some heavy duty bags and bag it up as you go. 

We hit our first hiccup when the owners left a few pieces of furniture behind (long story, they just did). Most of it we moved/removed successfully, but this couch was not willing to fit through the door and we didn't care enough to carry it out the front door/take down door jambs. So, we grabbed the circular saw. Sorry for the blurry picture below, I just really like this one because I started out  with good intentions of sawing it in half. The saw literally only cut through the fabric and died. And then I got scared and gave it to my Dad. Then him and the boy sawed/donkey kicked it into several pieces.

I wish I had more process pics/videos of this because it was funny/awesome. The couch was very well made (shoutout to Lazy-e-Boy for making REALLY STRONG couch frames) and we were lacking in the proper tool realm, so we had to get creative.

Once the carpet/carpet pad/pleated curtains were out this place started looking like it belonged in 2014. This is also the step that my mom came in and saved the day. 

She went staple crazy and make the floors walkable. Some of the staples were elevated so they could be picked off.

Others held strong and needed to be pried out.

THEN, once those staples were removed, we removed the nail beds around the perimeter of each room, hid the holes with some wood glue and smiled at our work. 

All in a day's work! Literally, it took us a day. Next up on the hit list: bathroom carpet...your days are numbered...