Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

David has been toiling away at finishing the new hardwood floors in our 100+ year-old house. Originally, we were hoping to find wonderful flooring underneath the layers of carpeting and tile, but sadly, that wasn’t the case. So, we had to buy new flooring and decided on Natural Hickory. We really wanted to choose a North American hardwood that could have been in the house originally. We went with Hickory because it’s a very hard wood, so our four-legged friend can run around and (hopefully) won’t scratch up the surface as much as he did in our old house which had Douglas fir floors.

floor finishing (4)First off, we filled all of the knots with wood filler…

floor finishing (2) …then sanded the floors down with an orbital sander with 60 grit and another round of sanding with 100 grit. He then vacuumed the area and cleaned the surface with a tack cloth. Then David put down the first coat of Fabulon water based sealer, allowed it to dry, then sanded it again with the 100 grit paper. This process was repeated four times. The humidity level was 85% during the floor sealing weekend, so David had to allow for additional drying time in between coats.

floor finishing (5)Here’s (drum roll please) the finished product…isn’t it beautiful? We are allowing the floors to fully cure before moving in. …but finally moving into the first floor is imminent. Yeah! 

We’ve chronicled our hardwood floor installation process. Feel free to revisit our progress: Get Floored: Part II, Get Floored and Hickory Dickory Dock.


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Floors (12)

We rented the flooring nailer again and completed the installation of the Hickory hardwood flooring. The nailer attached to a small air compressor and made the job much easier than using the older, non-compressed nailers. Near walls and in tight spots where we didn’t have enough room to use the nailer, David used a regular nail gun (again attached to the air compressor) by either nailing directly into the tongue or by nailing directly into the flooring (where trim will cover the nail holes). Because some of the nail heads weren’t completely sunk, he then used a nail set to countersink the nails which ensured a smooth surface for sanding.

Floors (13)Now that the flooring is down, we’ll need to sand (a lot of sanding) and four coats of a poly-urethane will need to be applied. So a lot more work is still on the horizon. Our new furniture is still wrapped up, just waiting for us to complete the floors. We can’t wait!

house 008Can you believe that it used to look like this? The beams that we installed really opened things up! We plan on re-using the french doors as the entry into the first floor bedroom/office. The home was quite tired before and we hope that we’ve freshened things up and given it a new lease on life!

It’s a ton of work, but rewarding. Most likely, Wyatt and I will be skipping town next weekend, so David will have a fur-free environment to begin the finishing process.

Don’t forget to review our previous posts about installing hardwood floors: Hickory Dickory Dock and Get Floored.

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Compost bin (4)We built a compost bin! Here, we were setting the posts. To make the bin, we used leftover wood and materials, so some additional prep work was required.

Compost binIn this image, I was priming the wood. Then, I used the exterior paint that was leftover from the garage. So the compost bin will blend in!

compost bin (13)David put it together. Because we utilized existing materials, our posts were of varying lengths, but we figured it would be OK for our bin. After all, it’s for rotting greens, banana peels, potato skins and the like.

compost bin (3)I primed and painted the posts and touched up the screws. It blends in pretty nicely with the garage.

compost binThen I filled the new bin with the giant pile of weeds that we’d been storing. Sheesh, it’s almost full already! The plan is to turn the compost with a pitchfork to aerate the pile to add oxygen.

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Floor install (2)We actually got down on our knees and began installing the Hickory hardwood floors last weekend. David’s friend, Scott, came over to help give us the boost and moral support to start the big job. We had completed the floor prep work some time ago and had been walking over flooring bundles for weeks!

Floor install (7)We rented a nailer and had the table saw and chop saw on hand to make cuts. I even took the reins on the saws and made some cuts. It was fun.

Floor install (10)Flooring should be installed perpendicular to the floor joists. The joists in the living and dining rooms run in a different direction than the joists in the hallway and kitchen. So, the flooring in the hallway will run  the length of the house.  Knowing that our 100+ year old house’s walls are not plumb, we knew that the flooring would go down crooked if we started along a wall. So, we began in the middle of the dining and living rooms and will work out from there. The bundles of Hickory came in varying lengths and we made sure to stagger each piece, so they look random on the floor. During installation, we planned ahead and laid several rows of boards out, staggering them so no end joint is closer than 12 inches to an end joint in the next row. We left about 1/2 inch gap at the walls.

It’s a ton of work, but rewarding. We’ll be renting the nailer again this weekend!

Read more about our flooring progress here!

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Hickory (4)…the mouse ran up the clock. Well… our situation doesn’t follow the nursery rhyme, but our Hickory hardwood floors are unbundled, fully acclimated to the temperature, and ready to be installed. We plan on working this coming weekend on this project and hope that the 3-day weekend will allow us enough time to accomplish most of it. We have roughly 1000 sq. ft. to install but neither of us have installed flooring before.

Floor prepping (6)Of course, preparing the floors to get to this point was quite the process.

Floor prepping (3)David rented a heavy-duty edge sander to even out the old sub-floor. Some areas (in the picture to David’s right) were extremely rotten and had to be replaced with 3/4  plywood. It seems like the cast iron radiator must have had a leak, because the flooring below it was very weak. We also fortified the floor joists and screwed-down all the old pine planks. We’ll be painting the radiators and re-installing once the flooring project is complete. We really enjoy the steady allergy-free heat in the winter months.

floor prep (2)Next, David laid down some 15 and 30 weight roofing paper that is supposed to level the uneven spots. So, we’re all set and ready to go. Now all we need to do is get it down and not be distracted by the beautiful weekend weather that is expected! I’ll keep you posted!

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Homemade laundry detergent (4)No, I’m not trying to be Martha Stewart… but since I wrote a post about Selestial Soap, a local eco-friendly laundry soap, I received a homemade laundry detergent recipe from an old friend. So, I decided to try it out. The ingredients are pretty simple (I picked all of the supplies up at Tom’s grocery store):

1 C. grated Fels Naptha bar soap (I used a cheese grater, but a food processor would work better.)
1/2 C. Borax
1/2 C. Baking soda


Homemade laundry detergent (5)I made a huge batch and stored it in an airtight glass container with screwtop lid. 1 Tbsp per load (I use 2 Tbsp if my clothes are especially dirty) and no dryer sheets or softener required! The scent is fresh and clean. I have added a drop or two of lavender essential oil to a load for some added aroma. It is lovely! I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

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Elmwood GarageOur garage was in need of a major overhaul when we bought our house last year. Here, the garage is pictured on the day we moved in.

Garage paintingThe first thing we did upon moving in was to begin painting the garage, since it was to be ‘renovation central’.

Garage paintingNext we scraped, primed and painted the garage’s exterior. Although the color looks similar to the before picture, the new color is a creamy beige shade that is now the same color as the house. Before, the garage was more of a yellow shade.

Garage interior After all of the exterior work, we installed shelving, workbenches, hooks and storage galore! David even mixed and poured cement on the floor to repair some pitted areas. He also applied an epoxy floor paint that really cleaned things up a bit!

Garden shelvesHere’s my dedicated garden shelving…

Pegboard…pegboard tool area…

Toolbenches…work benches, tool boxes, shelving…

Garage shelving…more shelving…

Garage window…a window sill display of fossils and Petoskey stones

GarageOverall, the garage has seen quite the transformation! We hope to continue to put it to good use for many years.

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