The Great Floor Disaster of 2017

During the demolition we had one of those magical finds you only see on HGTV (right after I swore off the channel as #fakenews): we found original hardwood flooring underneath the linoleum tile. It was pristine condition and absolutely gorgeous, except for one minor issue: it wasn’t the same wood as we have in the rest of the house.

On one hand, it’s original flooring, *swoon*, but on the other hand, it’s not going to flow with the rest of the room. Talk about a conflict!

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Plan 1 of this saga: Do nothing. Our contractor swore that the wood would match up, not exactly with the rest of the house but close, with some polyurethane. It would be gorgeous *original* hardwood floors. Just give it a couple coats and a little bit of time – it’ll all be fine. Turns out, it looked like bare wood with some polyurethane on top… definitely not the look I was going for.

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Plan 2: Try a polyshade(colored polyurethane) on top of the floors so we can create a tint without actually coloring the wood.  While an easy, quick, harm-free fix, it just wasn’t going to work. When you’re spending all this money and time on renovating your kitchen and updating everything from the electrical to the faucets, it would be pretty embarrassing to have the floors look like a budget DIY job.  Despite our contractor’s best try, I wasn’t sold.

Plan 3: Find a stain that our contractor would put down. Kyle and I went to the hardware store and stocked up on those small stain cans. After much tested trials, we didn’t feel confident in any of the options – or our skills in recognizing which color worked best.

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Some of these colors did match pretty well, and actually might have been fine, but after they set in over 24 hours we found the colors changed significantly. 

Plan 4: Try again with someone who has matched woods and floors “hundreds of times” in DC. I spent a week digging into this and found a local company who had dozens of reviews on every site, example pictures of their projects and everyone I spoke with was beyond confident in their abilities to do the job – it’s what they do after all and they’ve seen it hundreds of times.  

It pains me to tell this story, but I’ll do it one more time.

The workers showed up on time, and got to work right away sanding down the floors (again) to remove the two coats of poly. They then asked me, “what stain color do you want us to use?” – and that’s the minute I should have sent them home. I didn’t go with my gut, so …

I asked how they didn’t know this already – isn’t that what they were here to do? I asked what stain they believe is best for matching the woods and helping the transition boards transition to the rest of the boards. I then called the company to ask why nobody told the flooring guys what the job was.  Yet, we moved forward still. 

To be fair, the guys did a pretty darn good job mixing up a custom stain. However, they missed an step before putting it down: they didn’t do a wood conditioner. The stain looked great at first but then after about an hour it sunk in way too far into the grain of the wood leaving really dark rings that looked like yellow and black zebra-print. 

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I don’t understand why my communications degree fails me in explaining that I want the floors to transition between each other. It’s fine that they don’t match but… it has to look like it was done on purpose.

I won’t go into details about my reaction but the owner of the company had to come out to apologize for the “worst job he’s ever seen” – and say the only remedy would be to tear up the flooring. Or, of course, live with it.

Plan 5: We’re ripping it up. I know, it’s a sin to remove original anything from an old house – especially the floors – but at this point I literally hate the floors for all the pain they’ve caused me and my cats. I don’t see how I’ll be able to be in my kitchen and keep a scowl off my face if I glance at the floors. I have no choice but to take them out.

Stay tuned. The exact plan is still being worked out with our contractor but I have a feeling it’s going to be okay in the end.

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2 thoughts on “The Great Floor Disaster of 2017

  1. Oh my. I have photos just like this on my blog. I laughed out loud at the pic of all the little jars of wood stains. It’s very difficult to match floors even if it’s the same wood. You have to decide for yourself and not keep anything you’re going to dislike later. Can’t wait to see it resolved.

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