Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Refinishing a pine floor...

I Am Floored!!!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finally time to do an entry. With the wallpapering done, it was time to start on refinishing the pine floor. It is all too typical to bring in a floor company to sand floors down when they need refinishing. Unfortunately, old tongue and groove floors can only be sanded so many times. It is the finish that is shabby, not the wood itself. The small dings and scratches in the wood I can live with…they add to the character. My technique to redo these old floors is just like refinishing a piece of furniture. This is a labor intensive job that I have done too much of. If anything, previous experience has taken away a lot of the surprises that pop up during the job. The weather is holding so I can have the doors and windows open to air out the nasty paint stripper fumes. It is on Monday morning November 27, 2006 I begin this chore.

I have two full gallons of paint stripper which should be enough. Lowe’s recently brought back Savogran Strypeeze paint stripper. This is stuff I have been using for over 40 years. They are always out of this stripper, which to me proves its superiority. I have a one gallon of this brand (the last one on the shelf!)and one gallon of another brand stripper called Crown. The Crown brand stripper is what I start the floor with.

I “divide” the floor into sections about ten boards wide and 8 foot long. The first section has stripper applied. Then a second section has stripper applied. These sections are usually on each side of me, leaving a center section I can maneuver from. The new gel knee pads make such a difference doing this. It is like Louis always said: “Be nice to your knees, you will miss them when they are gone!”

The first area to receive stripper pass has the goop removed with a wide bladed putty knife. This mess is deposited into a plastic shopping bag. More stripper is applied to this scraped off area, and the goop is removed from the second area. When that is removed more stripper is applied.

Now I go back to the first area and sprinkle sawdust over the wet striper. The sawdust soaks up the excess striper and helps to amalgamate all the mess together when I rub it off with coarse steel wool. By doing this the steel wool does not fill up with gunk so fast greatly cutting down on the steel wool used. Once this is cleaned down to the bare wood, paint stripper is again applied to a fresh area of flooring.

This is a lot like working in the factory…you divide the job into steps and just work in a circle. I have never stripped a floor using this paint remover; it is not easy to work with. To get the entire residue removed from the wood is very time consuming. After nearly eight hours I only have half the floor stripped. That area used up the entire gallon of Crown Stripper….I’ll see how the Strypeeze works tomorrow.

Early Tuesday morning I’m back with my paint scrapers, putty knives, steel wool and stripper. The Strypeeze paint stripper works just like I remember: Fast and efficient. It is so easy to clean up compared to the other stuff. It is so much faster; I have this second part of the floor done in less than four hours and I only used half the amount of steel wool that I used for the first half.

The entire floor is cleaned down with mineral spirits to remove any remaining stripper. Again, today is a glorious sunny warm day. The fan in the window sucks out the nasty fumes. I have all afternoon for the floor to dry while I do much needed yard work.

Tuesday night the first coat of polyurethane is applied. Personally I prefer to use an oil finish: It leaves a beautiful sheen. It does not wear well in high traffic areas, but it is easy to touch up. The last time the floors in this house were sanded they were never finished off with a fine grit sanding paper for a nice smooth finish. I can feel the small grooves in the wood left from the sandpaper that was used. To get a really nice sheen from an oil finish the floor has to be really smooth. There is not enough body in the oil finish to fill the tiny grooves giving you a dull and lifeless finish.

To be continued…..