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What is under YOUR carpet?

posted Apr 3, 2011, 12:31 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 9:52 PM ]
In this house that we are currently renting, the nasty carpet was an attractor of dust, animal hair, dirt, and who knows what. Eventually we asked the landlords if they minded if we pulled it and refinished the original wood floor underneath. After all, people pay big money for oak floors, right? This is even aged oak. Vintage, even. That's better than saying "old" - makes it seem cooler, somehow. So I pulled the carpet, and the pad, from the living room and the hallway. It was NASTY! Smelled like dust and must and feet and I don't know what else. So even with the floor "unfinished" it was an improvement. You can see what it looked like - nasty, dirty, and with some patchy fading in spots old varnish.

When the place was carpeted, it must have been before selling. The floor had a lot of water stains on it, and somebody painted the house interior (white paint) with no drop cloths. There were even a few footprints where a bare foot had stepped in a partial drip and made replicas across the floor. So it was going to have to be sanded. I did a bit with a hand held belt sander, but it wasn't until this weekend I got serious. I rented a floor buffer and bought several "sanding screens". That's basically just a screen with grit on it. Kicked the dogs outside, put on a mask left over from my days in the fire department (if it stops a tuberculosis spore it should stop a piece of old oak dust, right?) and made some dust. And some more dust. Eventually it was all sanded down. Looked nice all blonde colored, but some of the water staining was still showing through.

So - the next task is to stain it. I figure since I can't get rid of all the dark water stains, I'll just confuse the issue by staining the ENTIRE floor. Paint it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then go back and wipe it off with a paper towel. Rubber gloves are my friend, so I can let the towels get totally soaked with stain, and I just got smart and grabbed my kneepads I wear under my fighting armor. It is a pretty dark color although it gets a bit lighter as it dries. Note the shelves in the background. They aren't actually white, but I made a LOT of dust. Oh well..... when I'm done then it will be a major dust removal. I'm thinking of getting the compressor, and bringing the air hose to blow off all the little wind up toys....

I'll finish up, and then get some sleep. It is almost 1 and I'm close to done with the stain - then tomorrow the machine will become a wax applicator and buffing machine. No fancy (and chemically nasty) polyurethane coatings for me - I'm just going with a few coats of Johnson's Paste Wax, buffed out, and if the dogs scratch the floor a bit of wax and a paper towel can fix a spot, or rent the buffer and do the entire floor again. Wax floors need to be recoated every 6 to 12 months, depending on traffic. I'll get a picture of THAT tomorrow, once I'm done with it.

Fast forward about 4 or 5 hours - to Sunday morning (Yes, I went to bed late, and woke up WAY too early at 6 am). Applied the first coat of wax. Funny thing, because paste wax is "solvent based" - in that the solvent dissolves and leaves the wax. But it also will loosen up any stain that is on the surface of the floor that did not fully absorb to the wood or get wiped off all the way (talk to my knees - they were getting tired even WITH knee pads). But, on a good note, that means it sort of swirled around and smeared or wiped off any leftovers that were on the floor, and not IN the floor - and then sets them into the wax. After the first coat was applied by smearing globs on the floor with a putty knife and then immediately working them in with the buffer and a soft pad (kind of like those green scrubby pads for dishes, but thicker, 17 inches wide, and much softer). I took another pad, added an old towel to cover THAT, and buffed it. Came out nice. Here's the shot after the first coat of wax was buffed in. The uneven coloring (from not REALLY sanding aggressively) "adds character" - and I'm sticking with that story. It also camouflages the water spots that would not come out because they are soaked too far into the wood. I minimized them with the sander, and this is the next best thing. Yes, I have some circular scratching from the sandpaper - but it STILL looks much better, and I wasn't going to spend two days sanding and resanding and then sanding again. I'm happy with it, and ever since I pulled out the old carpet it SMELLS better.