Monday, March 17, 2014

the fifth year is wood

So says traditional wedding anniversary lore. We buy lots of wood however, so that didn't seem so exciting, instead, I bought the trained monkey something wood adjacent.

not our house, but you get the idea

He's in love.

So in love, that the formerly formidable task of repairing the original oak floors was suddenly within the realm of reason.

check out that threshold, with the fir to the far left

These floors had been hacked apart when the house was subdivided, with pieces removed where they built new walls, and other sections (those that had never had flooring since they were under where the original staircase ran) had been filled in with fir porch boards instead of oak. Instead of making repairs after the house was turned into apartments, they added cheap oak on top, which was now splintered and bulging. We removed the junk oak when we did stage one of the staircase restoration, but left the holes and awfulness, leaving everything hidden under old rugs. Seeing the original patterned hall floors was one of our first tastes of being on the right track. Last fall we got a truckload of antique oak flooring for free that was a close enough match to ours, all winter it's been in the shed waiting to get used. We hope to cut most of it down for a herringbone floor later on, but chose the best long boards to do the patching.

those white sheets are before photos we put down for fun

There are plenty of tutorials written on how to patch floors. I will add though that when patching things like thresholds, and where two types of flooring meet, think about which will result in the best hold before blindly nailing boards in. In our case, we got creative with the tongues and grooves (as well as removing them), to try and give them the most sticking power. Also, square off the ends of all boards, both old and new before nailing anything in (we learned that the hard way).

In addition to the benefits of not tripping in nail filled holes anymore, it was nice to get a good look at the ends of the pine floors that are in the current entry - they're still hidden under more of the awful oak that needs to be removed, but the ends are grain-painted, telling us that the original opening between rooms was similar to what we built, and definitely not the single width door that was here when we bought the house.

so much better (the orange oak at the top still needs to be removed)
As for our anniversary, it being spent on house projects was more than a little appropriate, given that we made, built, and did everything for our wedding. The in-laws certainly got a crash course in what it was going to be like having me in the family, and getting married in a historic garden founded by a proponent of the arts and crafts movement (Bok Tower Gardens), and staying in a stunning craftsman mansion certainly helped. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than moss, live oaks and azaleas...

the only glimpse of me you're likely to see
Now, if only our azaleas here would bloom, I'm more than ready for spring.


  1. Yay for original floors! Can't wait to see what they look like all fixed up.

    I'm SO ready for spring!!

    1. They're coming along sooo well... And yeah, spring, I'm almost dreading it since I have a feeling some of our VERY old plantings may not have made it. We'll see.

  2. moss, live oaks and azaleas... sounds so romantic! Happy Anniversary and nice floor!

  3. The patched floor looks great! I always loves it when someone peels off nasty new layers and restores the beautiful original stuff!

    I absolutely don't want to spoil your fun, but in my experience (lots of DIY flooring) cutting down boards for a herringbone floor is about one of the hardest things you can think of. You want those boards to be perfectly square and the exact same length to a millimetre or so and that's quite a feat with the average tool kit. It could probably be done with a good chop saw though.

    Here's some of the herringbone I've done (almost 100 years old, removed after a terrible flood, dried and re-installed). I learned doing that by carefully taking apart old floors to see how it was done (and a bit of experimenting of course).

    1. But your floors look wonderful, so I'll just use them as an inspiration instead of a cautionary tale! Honestly though, we have the tools, we have wood coming out of our ears, and we're total masochists, so why not?

  4. I love your blog, I just found it and reading oldest first. Bok Tower is about an hour north of me, it's a beautiful place!


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