The Living Room Baseboards

I had a list of things I wanted to get done over the weekend and I thought that the living room base boards would be the easiest to tackle.  I already had the boards and they just needed to be attached.  Easy peasy, right?  No.

This story starts here:


That’s the previous owners’ chicken coop which I turned into a shed.

Inside it looks like this:

shed1I try not to go in there very often, for obvious reasons.  In this shed you will find: spiders, the foot board from the guest bed, bead board from the kitchen, some elk antlers and way in the back is the trim I needed for the living room.

I held my breath and dove in.

bb1And found that one of the boards looked like this.

While I love that it’s original, I just couldn’t bring myself to putting up a board in such bad shape.

bb2Plus, when I pulled the giant rusty nails out the board cracked more.  And it splintered when I tried to cut it.  Yeah, these guys were done.


So I bought some shiny new boards.  I thought that I had the perfect stain color to match the original base boards and figured that while not easy peasy, this will at least be easy.


bb4The color I was sure was right was Early American.  On the fir trim around the door it’s a close match.  On this pine, no.


So then I put on a coat of Special Walnut because I had it on hand.  Still no.


So all that with a top coat of Gunstock was the winner.  Still not perfect but it has that orangey tone to it which seems to work.

So now it’s good to go, right?

Kind of.

Just to remind you, this is what the wall looked like before:


Not awful but not great.


And now, a lot less awful!


But that water stain is pretty gross.  (Mom?  Dad?  Want to come over for dinner?  andhelprefinishmylivingroomfloors?  : ) )

Originally (I’m thinking more last owners than original owners) someone put trim up around the tile by the supposed-to-be-fireplace.  I didn’t like it so I stained a narrower piece of wood to go around it.  I followed the same stain steps and it came out darker.  Oh well.


I wanted to be fancy and do my first miter cuts but failed.  Horribly.  I have no idea why this was so hard for me!  Now I need to go back to the store and get a piece for the front of the tile bump out, stain it and then put it up.

And that’s why I didn’t get the base boards up in my living room this weekend.

But wait, there’s more!



I can now officially say that there is no more lathe and plaster visible in my house!

And I should have set that cover back in place before taking this picture.  Hellloooo mustard yellow!



Back With A Lot To Do!

Whew!  Last week felt like it lasted a year and it made me long for the chaos of having a million projects going on all at once in my house.

*Next week remind me that I wanted a messy house and the exhaustion that comes a long with it!

On my very ambitious weekend to do list are:





1.  Extend the base cove around those corners to meet up with the base boards



2.  Finally cut the pieces of base board by my front door.  I say finally because they have been sitting there, leaning against the wall since we (my dad) put in the new door….the first week I bought my house.



3.  And completing the base board trifecta: put the base boards back up in the living room.  They’ve been sitting in my shed since I took them down.

side note: remember when we took them down?  Let me remind you:



Ahhh, I miss those days.  Okay, I don’t, but I do miss those base boards!



4.  Clean up and recover these thrift store chairs.  $15 each but in need of some TLC.



5.  Touch up paint in the kitchen.  I’ve had that stain hand print on the wall since I redid my floor.

Can I do it?  I don’t know but I’m sure going to try!  I’ll be back tomorrow to show you what got done, and what didn’t (because I already think I’m going to need a nap!)

All About That Base*

(*credit to my mother for that title!)

If you asked me right now to take a ring to Mount Doom to destroy it, I would do it.

And if you told me that there was a virus going around that turned people into zombies, I wouldn’t care.

Let’s go skydiving, climb Mount Everest or run a marathon.

Because today, I’m unstoppable!



Today I put up baseboards in my hallway and most of my kitchen.  I cut every piece (to the right size every time!) and nailed them up there!



As you can see, I wasn’t too careful when I was staining because I knew it would all be covered by the baseboards.



I figured I’d start here and work into the hallway.  It was a lot of cuts but a less visible area so I thought it would be a good place to practice my cutting and nailing.



The living room and my bedroom and bathroom still have the original baseboards so I used boards of the same width and just butted them up against each other at the corners, like they did with the original ones.



These walls were rough at the bottoms, but not any more!



You can also see how uneven the floors are.  I’m not worrying about it.  There are some gaps at the tops due to wavy walls and some gaps along the bottom due to slanty floors.  But I don’t care!



I worked my way around the kitchen, skipping the two corners that meet at weird angles.  I’ll come back to those once I have a way to measure the angle.



I wasn’t sure about what to do in these spots by the cabinets.  My saw won’t cut out a notch for the wood baseboard to go under the toe kick



so I’m going to fill in that gap with more base cove.



Can you believe how good that looks?!?  I did that!



I filled in all the holes and started painting tonight.  Because I have it on hand, I’m using white semi-gloss.  I know that I should have painted it before I installed it but the weather today has been iffy and I didn’t want to risk having them outside during a snow storm.  They’re going to take a couple of coats and then I’ll caulk around the edges to fill in the gaps.

In addition to all of that, I have stain drying on some shelves for the bathroom and a brand spanking new rug on my kitchen floor so stay tuned- this is going to be a good week!



Final Step: Applying Polyurethane

Holy cow, this is it.  This project has taken me just over a week and tonight it’ll be done!

Remember I spent four days stripping the old stainone day preparing to sanda day sanding and staining and  a second day trying to fix the stain which leads me to today and three coats of polyurethane!



I stuck with this poly and so far I’ve been very pleased.  The dry time is as advertised and I was able to do three coats tonight.  The smell isn’t offensive and it’s super easy to apply.  Win-win-win!



It goes on milky which I really like.  I’m confident that we didn’t miss any spots because it’s so easy to see if you do.



Even before it was dry I knew I was going to love my floors.  Yes they’re imperfect.  Yes, I could have been obsessive and sanded all those areas I missed.  But I don’t care.





I put the second coat of poly on just under two hours after I did the first.  We used a brush to get the edges and a foam roller to do everything else.  See that reflection in the bottom right of the picture?  You can see the texture from the roller.  I bit my nails when I saw this but now that it’s dry, you can’t see it.  I ❤ self leveling poly!



This is the most accurate picture (colorwise) I’ve gotten of the floor.  This is after two coats and I’m just so happy!  There was a moment this week when I was sure I had ruined these priceless floors but now I know that I didn’t!



Look at those reflections!  And this is just two coats!



Here she is after the third (and final!) coat.



And just for fun, let’s look at a before:

floor collage


(these are all from the same section of floor in front of my stove)

the beginning, after sanding and refinished

Seeing the beginning makes me love the finished product even more!

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you how the floor looks dried and I’ll give you a budget breakdown.  And then we won’t talk about floors until I do my living room.  Or put in new tile in my bathroom.  Or rip up that Pergo…


Staining: Day 2

I was pretty discouraged with the stain last night (even after the second coat.)  I really hoped that when I woke up today I wouldn’t notice all the things that bothered me last night.  That wasn’t the case.

The second coat of stain  did help but I still wasn’t happy with the coverage.  I went back to Google and found that some people have had luck evening out the color with mineral spirits so I filled up a bucket and mopped on a layer.  I found that this worked really well as long as I used long, even, straight strokes.  If I plopped the mop down too hard or picked it up too quickly it would leave a mark.  I also couldn’t hesitate as I was dragging the mop across the floor or it would cause the liquid to pool on all sides of the mop.  I’m making this sound complicated though, really it isn’t!



This was after two coats of stain and one “mopping” with the mineral spirits.  I let that first coat dry for several hours and then looked at it again.  I decided that one more coat wouldn’t hurt so I went for it.



In the picture above you can see how the mineral spirits change the look of the floor.  The top half, by the wall, has a fresh coat on it and the bottom half is dry.  I’m obsessed with how these floors look when they’re wet.  They’re a perfect, browner version of what was there originally.  My hope is the semi-gloss poly will have the same effect on the floors and make them always look wet.



See what I mean?

And just so you don’t think I’m all perfect (ha!) keep in mind that when I did the first mopping at 6 AM today I forgot to lock Prudie up and she walked across the wet floor and she got an early morning paw wash to keep her feet from turning black.

Also, this:



After mopping on the second coat today I turned back and took a picture (with flash.)  Check out that one tiny spot I missed all the way across the room.  I’m so glad this wasn’t the poly!

I’m not doing another dang thing to this floor for at least 24 hours.  No more stain, no more mopping!  Now I need to let it dry out completely so we can apply the first coat of poly tomorrow!


Sanding and Staining

I’m writing this from my living room.  Sure, it’s where I usually write but today I have no choice.  I applied the last coat of stain at 7:00 PM and I can’t get to my bedroom for another hour or so.  And Prudie is locked up in there.  Hope she’s all right in there!

Oh, I also can’t get to either of the bathrooms so I had to drive to the gas station to pee.  It reminds me of when we were first working on my house and my water wasn’t on yet.  I don’t miss that.



We went out bright and early this morning to pick up the sander.  I reserved it for two days but hoped we could get it all done in one.  My dad did the majority of the sanding and we got the whole room (minus the edges) done in just a couple of hours so instead of paying for two days ($80) I only had to pay for a half day ($25.)  Sweet!

Even my dad was impressed by how good the floors looked when the sanding was done.  That burn is tricky though.  After some steps it looked like it was going to be easily covered up and after other steps it looked worse than ever.



Henry hated the sanding.  It was loud and threw up sawdust all over the whole house.  I gave him a bone and he found a little peace in his little dog cave.



So pretty!



After spending hours with our faces in the floor hand sanding my mom and I finally decided that we were ready to stain.  My mom vacuumed the floor while I gathered mineral spirits and some towels.  We wiped the whole floor down and let it dry.



Then we applied a pre-stain conditioner.  That dang burn!  The conditioner really made the floor golden but it was supposed to reduce blotchiness when staining so we went for it.



I’ve been having a lot of scary moments since we put the stain down.  I’m kind of freaked, actually.  It’s blotchy.  I did go back over the whole floor and put down a thicker layer of stain over the light areas but it’s still not perfect.



I’m trying to keep this picture of the floor before it was stripped and sanded in my mind.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was rough and dry and grimy and gross and the color wasn’t even.  I’m working on making peace with my imperfect refinishing job by reminding myself that if I wanted perfect floors I should have put down Pergo.  (I don’t want that.)



I’m watching a lot of Rehab Addict to make myself feel better-her floors are never perfect either.

This floor is 107 years old.  The forest these trees came from is probably a strip mall now.  I’ve (and my parents) shown this floor more love in the last week than it’s seen in years so I’m going to embrace it.  As my dad says, if you were 107 years old you’d have some scratches and an uneven complexion too!

I’m off to see how my second coat of stain is drying and hoping I can get to the bathroom.  And my cat.  And the shower.  And the q-tips.  And my bed.

Poly goes down tomorrow!  Stay tuned.


Preparing to Sand

That’s right, tomorrow’s the big day!  We’ll finally find out exactly how damaged these floors are (or aren’t!)  My mom and I spent about an hour today wrapping my cabinets in plastic so we can be ready to sand in the morning.  It felt like Christmas.



The first thing we had to do was move everything out of here.  I moved most stuff into the guest room and put the rest inside the cabinets or stacked on the stove.  Don’t worry, I stashed a bottle of wine in the fridge just in case.



I don’t think I’ve ever cussed on this blog but that ends today, sorry.  Moving the fridge into the living room was a pain in the ass.  It was just a hair too wide to fit through the door way so we had to turn it sideways and push it though with the doors open without spilling all the food out.  Thankfully we got it into the living room without scratching anything or losing any food.

Then we had to get the buffet out around it.



Now my living room looks like this and surprisingly I don’t care.  I really can’t believe that in only a couple of days this project will be done!



The cabinets are all covered and plastic is cut to hang in the doorways in the morning.  We were going to cover them tonight but I thought they’d just come down with me and Henry walking through them all night.  The vents will be covered in the morning too.

You know what else is covered?  The light switch.  Luckily it’s in the on position and I think I’ll just leave it rather than undo the tape-I’ll just be turning it on again in the morning.

The plan is to meet to pick up the sander at 8:00 AM and head back to my house to get started.  I have my parents’ favorite drinks in the fridge and hours of research into this in my brain-I don’t think there’s anything we can do to be any more ready!

My hope is to show you sanded and stained floors tomorrow night (my dad thinks this is ambitious) and I hope you’re excited!