The most overwhelming part of this project has been the torrent of decisions we have to make.  Sometimes they’re easy and you can either work them out through reason or at least pro and con them.  For example, we need a new furnace.  We got some quotes, looked at some models, and we’re going to pick through a list of options based on money, company presentation, and product.  That seems straightforward to me.  Other times the decisions are harder.  I’m baffled at the range of choices in kitchen cabinet finish.  There’s an entire industry crafted around selling homeowners on aesthetic choices and convincing them not only do they need to renovate, but they need to install the Imperial line of Kraftmade branded kitchen cabinetry.  Somewhere between these two kinds of choices lay our floors.

The house has around 12 rooms and each one has some flooring issues.  Not in the “replace every floor in the house” kind of way, but some need some sanding and spit polish while others have some deeper in grained issues.  On top of this, we budgeted in adding things like tiling, refinishing, and carpeting because even though the lovely circa 1992 vinyl stick on tiles could probably be cleaned up and used, I’d rather just put some time into installing a nice floor.  Here’s a really neat picture.  What you’re seeing is the 2nd floor hallway.  When we got the house, there was a huge piece of press board covering this area.

2013-10-24 16.55.53

Four generations of flooring: original hardwood, new hardwood, vinyl tile, and carpeting

The last owner had carpeted everything save the kitchen and bathroom so absolutely everything is covered in carpet tacks.  As part of installing whole house carpeting, the installers went and created transitions between flooring materials where ever they needed to because once you throw a pad and a carpet over it, you’d never know there was plywood and hardwood and tile and whatever else being covered up.  Under that plywood is several layers of hardwood flooring.  I don’t know enough about wood to identify types, but it’s easy enough to tell the different floorboards.  There’s the original floor boards that are in most of the house, covered by a skinnier, lighter colored plank.  In the picture, you can see where bits of this lighter colored wood are missing from the floor in a kind of L pattern.  That lighter wood only exists in one upstairs bedroom.  The two other things you can see are the vinyl floor of the upstairs bathroom, and this funky adhesive tiling in the upstairs landing.  I like this picture because you’re seeing 4 generations of flooring, pulled back like a core sample of home improvements.

The question at hand for us comes in two parts.  First, do we try to save the original flooring or install new?  Second, if we install new, what do we get?  Initially in our planning I had pushed for carpeting some of the upstairs.  This is probably good because it meant we budgeted for full carpet install.  As we’ve gotten more dirty in the project and began talking about the idea of restoring the original

floors, I’ve softened on the carpeting thing.  I still feel strongly about tiling the kitchen, and I’ll push for tiling the bathroom we’re redoing as well as the laundry room.  We’ll also need to do something in the mudroom and hall, but that will probably end up just being some kind of cheaper floating floor.  The other place we’ll need to install a new floor will be the upstairs landing and hall.  Unfortunately, the core sample reveals that no particular era flooring remains intact up there and I doubt we can find enough original wood to patch the holes.  But we do have enough to work as a subfloor for whatever we put over it.  I don’t know if we do an engineered wood or new hardwood in that area, but it will likely be the only new wood we’ll add to the house (knock on wood).

The comforting thought about restoring the original floors is that I won’t need to make many decisions about look and material.  They’ll be what they are.  The worrisome thought about everything else is eventually we’ll have to come to consensus on what flooring to order.  Luckily you do floors after most everything else.


About Nathan

Originally from central Florida (near Orlando), I've lived in the Cleveland area since 2008. When I'm not caught up in the life project de jure, I paint, sculpt, play games (mostly board games and video games), and run a small hobby import/export business.


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