Sweat Equity

Happy Independence Day! Did you have a nice July Fourth Holiday? "Nice" might not precisely describe ours, but I can say that it was definitely productive. Thomas and I went to visit Maredith in Louisville on June 30 and just got back home late last night. What a labor-intensive “visit” that was!




As you can see in the photo to the right, Thomas and Maredith spent some time finishing the lattice privacy screens in her back yard. The screens were a welcome addition, but they had suffered in the wind without that "finish" board he's adding, which made the project look...well, finished! Please note that OSHA-approved scaffolding he, er...custom-designed for this project...patent is pending.



Before the major project began, we enjoyed meeting Terry and LaDonna for dinner at Max & Erma's at The Summit. There's always a lot of laughter when we get together...always so good to see them. I think we've seen more of them since they (and Maredith) moved to KY than when we all lived in GA!



Well, we couldn't postpone the really BIG project anymore. It was time to: (1) rip out the old carpet (living room, hall, and guest bedroom); and (2) refinish the hardwood floors that were hiding underneath (Maredith has wanted to do this ever since she bought this house a year ago). Here're the "before" photos (left) of the living room floor as the old carpet and padding has just come up (Charley says "yucky...I didn't do that!") and (right, below) of the guest bedroom floor with its strange, brown, Armstrong adhesive...can you read it in reverse? What a mess that was to remove! It took both machine and hand-sanding.


Thomas said he’d managed to make it through more than 30 years of marriage without having to refinish hardwood floors. Hopefully, it’ll be at least 30 more before we have to do that again. Almost everything we had read online had warned us what a monumental chore this was…most sites said “hire a professional.” Now I understand why!

Still, we are dedicated DIYers, aren't we? That means...Field Trip! Time to visit Lowe’s before we get started. Good thing we did, too, as we found they had the whole “system” for refinishing floors: you rent this whiz-bang rotating orbital sander (Varathane EZV), which has three replaceable, velcro pads; then you buy the replacement sandpaper pads which come in packs of three (convenient, eh?) in various grits of 36, 50, and 80, which you use to get a progressively smoother, sanded surface. Lowe's also had the Varathane stain, the clear finish, and all the applicators, etc. Sweet! I just love it when there is a “system” and a list of steps to follow!!

Then the work began in earnest. Thomas and Maredith spent the Fourth moving furniture and then ripping up the old carpet and padding. And, what they found underneath was both good and bad. The 50-year old flooring was sound and intact (good), but the carpeting had trapped 25+ years of cats and dogs and who knows what and had left some serious stains…SERIOUS stains (bad). Online suggestions to deal with the stains said use hydrogen peroxide…straight..so I headed to Walmart for several bottles of the largest size I could find. We used them all to attack the stains, doing a pretty decent job to many of them. Maredith took a vacation day (?) on Thursday, so they rented the sander then, bought all the supplies, and put me to work “mowing” the floors (that’s what it felt like…a really SLOWHEAVY lawn mower…back and forth, up and down, over and over and over and over…). I bet I walked a couple of miles over three days! Meanwhile, they bagged up the old padding (really nasty stuff…REALLY nasty) for the next Trash Removal day…and set about “repurposing” (that’s seems to be the HGTV word of the year) the old carpet. It is now “resting in peace” under a deep layer of mulch, being used as the ultimate weed-blocker for Maredith’s new garden paths, in both front and back yards. Of course, all of this was done on the hottest day of the year (96 degrees…not a cloud in the sky)…and Maredith said that the inside of the house, where I was still sanding floors, was hotter than the outside (NOTE: the first step when sanding the floors: turn off the air conditioner, so you don’t spread the dust throughout the house).


Finally finished the sanding process on Saturday, with Thomas and Maredith using the hand sanders for the edges where the big sander couldn’t reach and filling the thousands of nail holes with wood putty…and while they returned the rental, I cleaned up the remaining dust…wiped down the floors with mineral spirits (smelly stuff!)…then, began the staining part (more smelly stuff!!). Boy, was that easy after the tedious sanding step! Thomas finished up the staining, and Maredith (after waiting for the stuff to dry for 24 hours) applied 4 coats of the clear finish (allowing two hours to dry in between coats), finishing at 2:30 a.m., Monday morning. Drum roll, please! Here are the "after" photos of the finished floor in the living room (left) and in the guest bedroom (right, below). What a difference!

One really great thing about Maredith’s house is that her basement is partially finished, so we were able to “escape” to a relatively calm, cool, and dust-free place…otherwise we would have had to retreat to a motel to save our sanity. Since the finish has to “cure” for at least 72 hours before any real use, it’s probably a good thing that “our” bedroom is in the basement, so Maredith has just packed up and moved there, now that we are gone. Charley Dog came home with us (to stay with the Drool Gang for a few weeks), so she doesn’t have to worry about his big feet and nails messing up the fresh surface. Of course, the main level of the house still looks like a bomb went off with all the furniture here and there and wherever it would fit (she has her TV armoire, coffee table, a bookcase, and a couple of side tables shoved in the kitchen; the chairs and ottoman, along with the sofa are crammed into her office; and, the mattress, box springs, and bed frame and furniture from the guest room are wedged into her bedroom)…you can barely squeeze between the furniture to reach the refrigerator and the coffee maker…and you can just forget using the stove! She's already asking: "now, when are y'all coming back to help me get all this furniture back in place?"

I think I might need a few weeks to recover...but, Charley's already looking a little sad...could be missing Maredith, don't you think?

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