1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Category: Mid Renovation

New Year, New Projects!


With the start of the new year comes the start of a new major project…or at least thoughts of a new major project. The weather has been too cold to start anything major now that all of my big tools have been moved out to the unheated garage.

Nevertheless, it has been very nice to walk through my practically bare living room and dining room and enjoy the newly restored and refinished floors. The house definitely has a greater feeling of being a warm and welcoming home. I must admit that I am enjoying the ” minimalist look” too!

Hopefully the “Before” and “After” photos above tell this story well. You will see that there has been very little change in the rich, aged color of the wood, however there is a definite improvement in the appearance, particularly since there are no longer pieces of plywood covering up the holes!

A good friend has often said, “John, your house will tell you what it needs next.” Last winter it was telling me (in a rather unpleasant way) that it needed a new heating system! With that and this major floor project completed, my house is now saying, “Laundry room, please.”


These photographs were taken in 2014 before, during and after the repair and refinishing of my living room and dining room floors.

By the way, WordPress let me know that this is my 100th post!


What I Have Learned About Staining and Finish a Floor…(Beyond the Fact That This Has Definitely Been Worth All of the Extra Work!)


After all of the scraping and repairing, there was sanding and touching up, it was time for staining and finishing. It was a challenge to hold off on moving to the staining and finishing, since those were the final steps would tell me if all of this work was worthwhile.

Could my old floor be saved? And if it could, would it live up to my hopes and expectations? The biggest investment up to this point had been in my time. The cost of boards and sandpaper were really quite small when compared to the amount of time I’d invested.

“Gunstock” was the stain color which was the closest match for the old original aged finish. A test area was very useful to ensure a good stain selection. It was a little more reddish-brown than golden-yellow, however my finish coat gave it a golden-yellow tone for a practically perfect match.

Quick Tip: Collect a lot of old T-shirts ahead of time. You can use them for wiping everything down before applying stain to remove any remaining sanding residue. They are also useful when wiping away extra stain.

“Photograph 1” was taken about halfway through applying stain to the living room floor. The morning sunlight really enhanced the appearance of the work in progress. There was that warm and welcoming color that I had been looking for at last! I felt good about my choices.

Quick Tip: Foam sponges are great for stain application because they come in various sizes and can match the width of a floor board and can even be cut to fit the width very easily if needed. They also minimize any bubbling and are good for “spot staining” if needed.

Although one coat of stain was perfect for the old original boards, the new replacement boards needed a second or third coat to help them match and blend in better. Green painter’s tape was perfect for isolating boards that needed some additional work with staining to blend in better visually.

Because the original floor boards had color variety due to some showing the pine heart wood and others showing the effects of light and foot traffic, it was helpful to make some of my new replacement boards slightly darker than others. This helped them to blend in much better visually.

Although I normally hesitate to recommend any particular product by name, an exception to this is with my final floor finish, Waterlox tung oil. This was the same product I had used for my red oak countertops and has proven to be great for a surface that is frequently wet.

“Photograph 2” shows the living room floor after one coat while still wet. “Photograph 3” shows the dining room floor after one coat and also still wet. Some of the glossiness diminished after drying, particularly on my new replacement boards. Overall though the appearance changed little after two more coats.

“Photograph 4” shows the dining room after all three coats have dried adequately to allow brief sock traffic. Although it would have been possible to apply all three coats over a period of three days, I chose to have a “day off” between coats for better drying and fume dissipation.

Quick Tip: Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate! That means plenty of fresh air flowing through with doors and windows open!

The staining photograph was taken in November 2014, and the finishing photographs were taken were December 2014. There was about a one month period between staining and finishing. This was more due to my work schedule than any requirements of the products used.

What I Have Learned About Holes In A Floor (Beyond the Obvious Fact That You Can Fall Through Them!)


Although I had thought that it would be possible to take undamaged board sections from the center of the room (where a rug would be) and use them to repair damaged sections, for my floor, this turned out not to be an option. Over time, each board changes in ways that makes it no longer interchangeable with most of the other boards. This is due to sagging, wear patterns, slight twisting, reacting with the joist underneath and the adjacent boards, expansion and contraction. It may be possible in a limited way, but overall, it is not an option that would have worked for me.

I found it easier to scrape off the finish before removing any damaged sections. This is partly because this gave me a better view of the challenges faced with each individual board, and partly because once you start removing sections of boards, the remaining boards are more likely to have chip outs and cracking.

“Photograph 1” shows a rotted through hole in the floor created with just a little foot pressure on the left. It will need to be enlarged to remove the “not so rotten but still bad” sections. On the right is another hole that is almost completely ready for replacement boards. There are a few ends that need to be straightened and squared up.

Before you remove any boards or sections of boards, plan ahead. You should stagger the ends of boards so that no two adjacent boards end on the same joist. This may mean that you need to cut out more than what is necessary, but it will help your repairs blend in better with the existing floor. Otherwise your eye will be drawn to any spot like this.

A multitool saw blade can be used to make the initial end cuts for the damaged sections. These cuts don’t have to be clean through at first, just enough to prevent surface splintering when the damaged board is finally removed, about 1/8 inch deep.

Make your cuts centered on the floor joists. The old nails that fasten the floor boards to the joists are useful guides for this. Once the ends have been cut enough to prevent bad surface splinters, you can use a rather aggressive drill bit to remove more material. The multitool saw blade can then be used to cut along the sides through the tongue portions and then to clean up the ends of the boards that you are keeping.

An aggressive drill bit is really useful for removing wood material near each end of where you are cutting out. The sides (where the tongues are interlocking the floorboards) can be cut with a multitool saw. It can then be used to clean up the ends.

“Photograph 2” shows new boards cut to fit into their proper places. Because they are individually cut to fit into place, they were labeled on the reverse side to indicate their order and direction. Otherwise, it would be like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box.

These replacement boards will be stained to match the other bare original boards before nailing them into place. This first stain color will be chosen to match the old bare boards rather than the finished color. They will get another coat of stain when the entire floor is stained with the finished color and then additional stain if and where needed to blend in better with the original boards.

I had also thought it would be possible to buy new to tongue and groove boards from the local big box home store, but even though the label says 3/4 inch thick like my floor boards, they are actually about 3/16 inch thinner. Also, in places where only a small section of only one board needed to be replaced, a single tongue and groove board would be tough to fit with its neighbors because of the tongues getting in the way when putting a new board between two existing nailed down boards.

Odd as it may seem, my old floor had some boards that are 3 and 1/2 inches wide and others that are 3 inches wide. It’s a very subtle difference that you might only notice once you know to look for it, but it was another reason that new 3 and 1/2 inch tongue and groove floor boards could not be used for repairing some of the larger sections of damage.

Standard 1 inch by four inch pine boards (actually dimensions 3/4 inch by 3 and 1/2 inches) were what I used with very little difficulty. I used a table saw to rip cut the width to 3 inches when needed.

“Photograph 3” shows extra steps that needed to be taken because my house was built without the use of any subfloor material. The single layer of floor boards were just nailed directly to the floor joists. Pieces of 2 x 4 were used to support plywood sections installed between the floor joists and flush with the floor joists.

The plywood provided extra support and prevented cold air from under the house from coming up through the spaces between boards. If I could have used tongue and groove boards, this extra step would not have been necessary.

The board marked “A” is a replacement board cut to size before staining and nailing in place. The boards marked “B” are 2 x 4 sections that have been secured to the floor joists. A small piece of plywood marked “D” was used to ensure that the 2 x 4 sections were secured correctly at the correct depth so that the actual plywood sections that they will eventually support can be flush with the tops of the floor joists. The board marked “C” is a 2 x 4 that has been secured to be flush with the top of a floor joist. This is only because it is the one closest to the wall, and so it would be impractical to install a plywood support there.

These photographs were taken November 2014. This was the last section of boards that I had to replace, and so I hope they show what I’ve learned from the other five damaged sections that I replaced before these.