Wednesday, October 15, 2014

do you want fries with that?

I wasn't kidding when I said I was committed to restoring the original rift sawn oak faux bois finish on the library floors....
















As proof of my dedication, I present to you my Golden Arches mustard floors.

I had hoped to have to do the finish from scratch only on the middle, unpainted section of floor, while filling in the worn spots elsewhere.  Since the bonded rosin paper made this impossible, we had to decide between painting everything, or sanding to bare wood and waterloxing.  While I love the pine, it does suggest a slightly rustic and informal feel - certainly not appropriate for a principle room downstairs.  Although a painted floor wouldn't normally strike me as the more formal option, seeing the bits of finish still in good condition, as well as identical floors in other grand houses in the area of similar age, makes me sure of my decision.

Standing, the original finished looked just like rift sawn oak, pictures don't really do the artistry justice.  Also, I have lots of rugs and VERY big furniture.  So if I completely botch this little enterprise, I'll be devastated, but I doubt the rest of the world will notice.  The first step is matching the undercoat...


Easy enough when there's a stray un-grained patch (the triangle in the middle).  Even if there weren't it's easy enough to look at the rays in quartered oak to figure out a good starting point (hint - ignore all reason and good taste and choose the most obnoxious color possible).  The color ended up being the common butterscotch paint you see in many antique homes.  This makes sense if you think of floor finishing on a price schedule, the butterscotch could be painted on, and grained later if the client changed their mind or wanted to pay the additional cost.  In the case of our house, the grained finish border was present in at least 5 of our bedrooms.  Evidence points to original wall to wall carpeting in this room (stray fibers under the baseboards), and tacked down linoleum or carpets in much of the upstairs (many, many tacks pulled up and dug from between floorboards).

To prep for the paint the floors were de-nailed, then scrubbed (mostly in an effort to rid them of rosin paper), then sanded with 40 and 80 grit.  The sanding was just done with an orbital sander taped to my shop vac.  The idea of flattening these floors is a joke, so big sanding equipment wasn't called for.  After sanding I dug out all the cracks with a dental pick, and vacuumed at every stage (vacuuming around here is a lost cause, but I have to at least try to do things right).  Under the base coat of yellow were white and gray primer coats - most likely lead based - and I'd pay a king's ransom to buy more of it on the black market, the stuff is amazingly durable, as is whatever they filled the gaps with (some old timer told me it was tinted linseed oil based glazing putty?).....

After sanding this was where we were at....  Not particularly pretty is it?  Hopefully I can begin to rectify that in a few more days...

Monday, October 13, 2014

beer and pry bars

As soon as the piano left the premises, I got busy ripping up the last of the oak.  The hammer and pry bar were helpful, but I think it was the chai beer from Brew Gentleman, a local microbrewery that helped the process along....


The floor overall was in good shape, the only unpleasant surprise was how potent decades-old urine can be on a humid fall day (all those stains were there for a reason).  It meant that none of those oak boards could be saved, but it seems the enzyme cleaner (and the original paint finish on the pine) should minimize the residual stench.



The bad news is that about 50% of the building paper was fused to the shellac and paint on the floor.  My fingertips are worn to the bone after trying to scrub the paper off (hot water and a green scrubbie), but despite generating many pounds of snot like soggy paper, it's not enough to save the original faux bois finish, so I guess doing a true "restoration" is out.



And despite my best attempts at complete denial, fall is in full swing...


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

breaking news

As the friend I've been bitching to about this would say, "people are heathens."

The house next door to me continues to cause grief.  It's a large and very attractive Prairie Foursquare, and today it's been painted white and is having it's original three over one sashes and storms thrown away in favor of blank expressionless vinyl.

Yes flippers, take a historic home sandwiched between two big restored Victorians and paint it white, black and plastic.  Surely this will bring the buyers running....

Thursday, October 2, 2014

heavy lifting

So, the piano ran away to join the circus...


 Here's hoping she takes pictures, or better yet, writes us a postcard inviting us to the set...


 Incidentally, the guys picking it up didn't know it was only being rented, and after the hell of loading it, took great pleasure talking about the scene where it was to be set on fire.

 Hilarious...