Four layers of flooring (two for the vinyl roll and two for vinyl squares) and countless bruises and blisters later, we have bare unfinished hardwood:
Wait rewind. Back when we purchased the house we knew the existing flooring HAD to go, especially the kitchen. We had hoped there was hardwood underneath everything. And to our surprise, we were lucky in the living room and office. So naturally, we let loose while painting letting it spill and drip everywhere.
At this point most of the painting, for the entire house, was complete (my main job during our remodel marathon) so I was itching to put some muscle, sweat, and tears into our home. Can you blame me for wanting to make use of my pry bar and heavy duty glove birthday presents? Plus, the boyfriend was neck deep in plumbing, electrical, drywall, and other important bathroom stuff beyond my skill level.
What’s a girl to do? Dig right in and insist that the entire floor would be removed solely by herself. “Don’t worry I got this.” may have slipped out of my mouth. Would I be eating my words? You becha. Admittedly, I was a bit intimidated considering a few months prior my construction/deconstruction resume consisted of hanging pictures and installing siding.
Of course he showed me the technique so I wouldn’t go all pry bar-crazy and break through to the sub floor. Let me tell ya when an experienced carpenter shows you, they make it look way easier than reality.
He simply positioned the pry bar underneath a portion of the flooring and pounded the hammer twice into the pry bar. His effortless-looking gesture pried a huge piece of the flooring up. He then tore a steering wheel-sized piece out and started a pile. Easy, right? Wrong. He has muscles, like guy muscles. My first attempt was more like multiple swings, a miss, and only a shift knob size chunk of the floor was my prize.
After watching me struggle a few attempts, he wisely repositioned my hammer grip (further down on the handle), guided me to extend my swing, and told me to use the pry bar to my advantage and wait for it… pry by wiggling stubborn pieces.
Sun was going down. Also it was hot, and I recommend closed shoes if you attempt this.
It only took me about two hours and one blister for the first and second layer. I’m happy to report that it got easier as I got the hang of it, and the chunks of flooring got bigger and bigger.
That is until the third and fourth layers. You see the first layer was made up of rolled out vinyl and the second layer made of cheapo plywood simply glued to the next layer. Whereas the third was made of vinyl squares glued to the fourth thick cardboard-ish material which happened to be nailed down. This added a layer of complexity.
After getting frustrated only pulling up dime sized pieces, I reluctantly called in the boyfriend to assess the situation. Even with all his man muscles and expertise, he was also getting small sized chunks. It was then that he determined the middle layer was glued to the last layer in turn was randomly nailed to what we had hoped were the hardwood floors. Which meant the two layers had to come out together, albeit tediously. Oh and there were staples and nails to remove.
The method had changed to hammer the pry bar until the pry bar head was under the floor then pry. Sort of like my first failed attempt. When I said tedious I meant the first hour in and I had only pried up a two foot square section. Needless to say the muscle wrecking activity took about six consecutive evenings after work to complete.
One could say it was the start of a love hate relationship. After the back pain and bruises subsided, we assessed the floor which now looked like this:
And a little closer:
Darker spots where the stove used to be
Looks like some veneer dripped when shellacking the cabinets
The floor wasn’t in as good condition as the living room, but we were determined to follow the ‘use what you got’ mentality. Plus, there was no way we were going to replace the floor right away after the love hate relationship began.
So the boyfriend busted out his mini floor sander to spot-sand some of the painted and dark areas away before we sealed the floors. No photos because this step was ultra dusty, plus he had a deadline and I wanted to get as many spots off the floor as possible. The sanding made the floor look spotty but at least it seemed ‘cleaner’ to me. We used a Shop-Vac then wet cloth to pick up as much dust as possible.
And here they are after we put two coats of polyurethane on them. We used the remaining polyurethane and application method from the living room hardwood floors.
You can really see the sanded spots in this shot. Also the fact that the base boards are pretty beat up too.
The dark spots are terrible.
The dark spots got substantially darker after the polyurethane coat. I assure you, they are clean. The primary reason it was so disappointing was because after all the effort, and no matter how much I clean, the floors always look dirty.
Someday, we plan to rent a floor sander and purchase stain to restore the entire house hardwood flooring we were lucky to have back to their glory days. I’m guessing the kitchen may be a lost cause, but will try hard to keep those bad babies. The boyfriend is considering wood bleach for the dark burned looking spots.
Want to follow along with the Kitchen progression? Here’s the Prepping for paint, Painting Part 1, Repairing Drywall, Painting Part 2, and Hardware Decisions.
P.P.S. I just started working out today prepping for the 5k Color Run in my area. I’m ridiculously excited, for the health benefits and the much needed energy boost. Cheers to building the endurance back up- of course that’s a straight up Vitamin C shot full of Orange Juice.