Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hardwood floors and the race against time

Now that we finally had painted walls, it was time to lay the hardwood flooring on the main level.  Yes, Mark did that himself, too.  To prepare for this project, he read a book, borrowed a nail gun and got to work.  I wasn't sure  his self-confidence and commitment to doing the majority of the work on this project himself was warranted.  But the finished floors proved me wrong.

We had a family gathering at our house before Mark began work on the flooring to say thank you to our painters and enjoy some food and wine (being pregnant, I obediently drank sparkling juice instead).  The subfloor was covered in black felt paper to prepare for the hardwood flooring.  I remember little about that night, but I do recall that one family member spilled red wine in the kitchen.  We were relieved that this spill happened on the felt paper and not newly-laid floorboards that were not yet sealed.

Because we had extended the house to the side, Mark would need to join new floor boards to the existing floor in the kitchen and dining room.  This task proved intimidating for a few reasons.  First, the walls weren't straight, so the existing flooring wasn't laid straight.  The new flooring would have to feather in the existing floorboards in a creative fashion to make the layout work.  Next, to make the new boards blend into the existing flooring (and avoid a clean break between rooms) he'd have to tear out some of the original boards.

The first row of boards that Mark laid in our dining room took several hours.  He snapped chalk lines and did a lot of measuring to make sure the first board was at the right angle to match in with the existing flooring and the flooring around the staircase to the basement.  I worried that this project would take weeks at this rate, but once Mark felt comfortable that the boards would line up, the installation sped up considerably.

I did find a way to help with the flooring installation.  I got to choose the layout of the floor boards, making sure to vary the lengths from row to row.  Mark then just had to slide each board in place, thump it with a mallet, then nail it in.

Once the floorboards were laid, it was time to sand and seal the floor.  We chose a water-based sealant because it was winter and we would have a newborn shortly after the floors were finished.  We were very conscious of using materials with a low VOC and other chemicals to minimize exposure to our baby.  It wasn't easy!  A lot of better options have come along since 2006.

The week that Mark sanded and sealed the floors on our main level was the only time we moved out of the house during the entire project.  We stayed with Mike and Deb, who worked with Mark.  I was very uncomfortable that week, as I was 37 weeks pregnant and would have been mortified if I had gone into labor while staying at their home.  My doula, Emme, reassured me that my body wouldn't let me go into labor at their house because I wouldn't be comfortable enough.  She was right, thank goodness!

1 comment:

  1. Great job!! Love the picture...those floors are amazing and well worth the time spent...