Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kitchen Renovation #1 - Refinishing the Kitchen Floor - Before & After

Just before Christmas Karen and I decided it was time to get to work on the kitchen again. A spring and summer chocked full of outside projects and fall clean-ups left little time for indoor work - so the kitchen had not been touched since last March - when I started building the slate patio.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring
Since we were hosting Christmas, I figured we would do the kitchen floor in two steps - 1) Removal of the old floor and under lineament and 2) Refinish the pine wide-plank boards that we hoped would be worthy of refinishing!

I also chose the floors - because being Christmas time - I needed a project that did not cost too much. This project is mostly labor - so basically free (Step 1 cost $0....but don't tell that to my back!)

The picture to the above right is my Before - a reminder of what the floor looked like originally (it so needed to go!) 

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring
Half-Way Through
This next picture is how the floors looked after a weekend of hell. I already wrote about how I ripped out the old linoleum and removed the horrible black tar in this previous entry. I did this work just in time for our holiday guests.

Refinishing Wide-Plank Pine Wood Floors - The Rustic Way

Step 1 - Remove everything that is not bolted down

As with most my projects - Lily (My Little Helper) was right by my side. The first step was to remove the refrigerator and stove from the kitchen. The only way to get the frig out was to take all the doors off.  Just goes to prove even the easiest tasks will expand. I was hoping to just wheel everything out - but instead spent the next 90 minutes removing every door - on both the frig and in the kitchen and breakfast nook. it was the only way to get it out of the kitchen and to its temporary home.

Lily was disgusted by what she found when we emptied the frig. She got right to work on cleaning everything 'good as new.'

Once a apart and cleaned I used a furniture dolly (hand truck) to get the frig out and over to the phone nook in our entry hall.

We then had to put it back together, plug it in and fill her up again.
Stove Dolly - Oven DollyNext I rolled the stove out of the kitchen on the handy-dandy dolly I made for it. I am actually kind of proud of this one.

I took a regular wooden dolly and cut it down just enough to fit between the legs on our stove. Then I built up the sides with 2x3's until they just fit under the stove.

Stove Dolly - Oven Dolly
Notice the legs are off the floor
I then rolled the dolly under the stove and turned each of the legs to raise them off the floor and let the stove rest on the 2x3 supports. Now the stove could easily be rolled out of the way (while I paint, rip up floors, refinish floors, etc). Truth be known, the stove has actually been like this for 10 months now.

Best of all - when we are not doing work - the stove is still fully functional. It has made it much easier than trying to lift this beast every time I need to move it.

We rolled the stove into the dining room for temporary storage.

The stove in the Dining Room nook
Step 2 - Set up a Temporary Kitchen

Karen set up our temporary cooking (and even more importantly - coffee!) station in the dining room.

She also emptied the pantry onto temporary shelves in the dining room.

Step 3 - Take Measurements

Technically this should be done earlier in the process (like before you buy your wood conditioner, stain and polyurethane)...but at least I did it before I started staining...then I went out and bought some more of each (while I was renting a sander) - so st least it was not a wasted/extra trip.

Common Core anyone???
Step 4 - Tape all cabinet seams

I thought this would be a dusty job - so I taped all the seams shut. Turns out the machine had a GREAT vacuum system - dust was minimal.

Step 5 - Rent a Sander

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring
When I did the floor of the Breakfast Nook - I used my handheld rotary sander. I broke one. Spent another $50 for a new one.

This time the project was more than 2x's the square footage so I decided to break down and rent a real floor sander. I have never felt so stupid, Lowe's rents this monster for $40 per day (less than the cost of my new sander). I also had to buy $20 worth of sanding disks. It made quick and easy work of the floors....and there was almost no dust!...much different than last time...I felt like I was in Sahara sand storm when I did the floors with my hand sander. Learn from my mistake. It is night and day. Rent the correct tool for the job!

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - RestoringRefinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

Step 6 - Sand the Corners

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - RestoringI had to pull out the shop vac, handheld sanders and plain old sheets of sandpaper to get all the corners and under the cabinet lips. Learning from the dusty fiasco I had last time - I purchased an adapter that connected my sander to the shop vac. You can see it attached to the back of the yellow sander in the photo to the right. Big difference!

Here is a picture after all the sanding was done:

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

All-in-all - it only took 2.5 hours of actual working time (not including trips to the store, etc.) to get to this point. Quick enough that I figured I could start staining that same afternoon!

Step 7 - Pre-Treat, Stain and Polyurethane

Staining Process
    • Apply a pre-stain conditioner - especially if you are staining a soft wood.
    • Apply your stain according to directions. Stains get wiped off after waiting a few minutes. PolyStains do not get wiped off.
    • Wait for the stain to dry.
    • Apply a second coat if you want a deeper color  (I went with one coat)
    • Apply polyurethane according to directions - I used a lambs wool applicator
    • After it dries lightly sand with a very fine sandpaper
    • Wipe off sanding dust with tack cloth
    • Apply 2nd and 3rd coats of poly following the same steps. Do not sand after your final coat.
Step 7A) All wood - but especially soft woods (pine, maple, etc) should have a pre-stain conditioner applied to make sure you do not have any blotching when you stain. Of course - that applies to new, perfect wood - the pre-stain may helping blotching - but it really highlights every imperfection in our rustic wood!!!! No worries - I have seen this before.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring
The Pre-Stain Conditioner - really brings out the imperfections!!!!
Step 7B) Based on the success of the Breakfast Nook - I used the same stain - Minwax Polyshades in Mission Oak Satin. It is a stain and polyurethane in one. It is not intended for floors...but since when do you have to listen to directions, right?! Since this is a poly - you do NOT wipe it off. You apply it and let it dry. As you can see here - it dried to a very uneven finish (it was soaked up by the floors)...but that was expected. All I cared about was the color. It is exactly what we wanted. The dark color hides the imperfections much better than a light stain - and add to it that you do not wipe this stain off - it really hides many of the 'bad' spots well.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring
Uneven sheen and all - they are looking great!
Step 7C) As I mentioned above - the Polyshades are not recommended for floors. That is because the stain does not truly penetrate the wood like a traditional stain. It can rub off over time in high traffic areas if left on its own. However - I called MinWax - yes I am that guy - and asked, "but what if I then applied 3 coats of real polyurethane over the polyshades? Would it then withstand the rigors of foot traffic?" They said - yeah that should work. Also - the polyurethane gave the floor a nice and even satin finish.

Don't forget to sand between coats!!! I sanded the polyshade lightly before the first coat of polyurethane and then again in-between each coat of poly. You must, must, must sand the floor very lightly with fine (I used 220 grit) sand paper. It will leave a white dust that you then vacuum and get up with a tack cloth. This sanding is imperative if you want a nice smooth finish after your final coat. Speaking of the final coat - do NOT sand after your final coat.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

If you look closely you can see the white dust
Hint: One more additional hint when applying polyurethane - cover your vents - so that they do not spit any dust or hair onto your floors while they are drying. Since this one vent was the only source of heat in the kitchen on a very cold day - I did not block the vent with cardboard - I tape a light weight rag (think cheap undershirt material) over the vent. It acted like a filter. It blocked particles, but let some heat through.

The Products:

Here are the products I used to get the finish we desired.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

If you can handle the back-breaking and PITA task of removing the linoleum, sub-floor and black tar - the actual refinishing is not all that strenuous.  Also since most of the job is labor - this restoration is relatively inexpensive (I spent approximately $150 on materials and rentals) - especially when you consider the dollar per impact factor (i.e. -  low cost, high wow factor).

The After Pictures

The floors came out bea-u-ti-ful.

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

Refinishing Wood Floors - Wide Plank Pine - Restoring

Not bad for a weekend's work:

  • Lily and I started Friday night by removing everything from the kitchen.
  • I sanded Saturday morning.
  • Pre-stain and Polyshade Saturday afternoon
  • 1st Coat polyurethane Sunday morning
  • Trip to the Albany Institute of History & Art Museum Sunday afternoon - My response to: "what are we doing that is fun today?"...plus Paige is studying Egypt in school and they have a real mummy on display!
  • 2nd coat of poly Sunday at 6pm
  • 3rd coat of poly Monday morning at 5am before work 
    • ....Hi my name is John and I am just a tad compulsive

Now to start tackling those hideous cabinets!
Stay tuned...


  1. I'm inspired to tackle my kitchen.

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