Dan's Kitchen: Floors, Final Version

Renovation Diary

The newly refinished floors, looking into the dining room from the kitchen.
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Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House

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The original pine floors in my condo are far from perfect. But all of the little nicks and scratches and nail holes and color variations in the floorboards tell a story. I feel like the history of the building is written in these floors. So I was a little apprehensive about having the floors refinished – I was worried that a thorough sanding and a few coats of polyurethane might erase some of this historical character. At the same time, the floors desperately needed to be refinished. There were some deep gouges and the finish had worn down to bare wood in places, not to mention the very real risk of getting a splinter while walking around with bare feet. And the newly uncovered and patched kitchen floor was dusty and completely unfinished.

The newly refinished kitchen floors.
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So this past week, I brought in a flooring crew to refinish all of the floors in the condo. The floors came out better than I could have hoped. I chose a satin finish since I thought that a glossier finish would look out of place given the age of the floors and all of their imperfections. The satin finish has given the floors a soft glow that really brings out the natural amber color of the aged pine. Maybe best of all, the little imperfections in the floors are softer, but still visible. And of course the floors are now silky smooth, so no need to worry about splinters. As an added benefit, the dust situation is finally under control, since the flooring guys used an industrial-strength vacuum to remove all of the dust before putting down polyurethane.

The kitchen floor (top) came out slightly lighter than the dining room floor (bottom).
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There's a lot of color variation in the refinished floors. When I peeked in while the first coat of polyurethane was drying earlier in the week, I noticed that the kitchen floor was significantly lighter than the dining room floor. I immediately started to regret that I hadn't stained the kitchen floor to more closely match the dining room floor before applying the polyurethane finish. Now that the floors are finished, this color difference isn't quite as noticeable, but there's still some color variation from room to room and even from board to board. Pine tends to darken as it's exposed to sunlight over time. And since the kitchen floor has been covered with a plywood underlayment for decades, it hasn't darkened as much as the dining room floors. But I'm sure the color of the dining room and kitchen floors will even out over the next few years.

The refinished floor in the soon-to-be pantry came out even darker than the floor in the dining room.
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One of the reasons I decided to refinish the floors this week was so that I could schedule delivery of the new appliances. I was most excited about the new refrigerator. I planned to temporarily put it in the dining room and immediately begin using it to store food. Moving from my current mini fridge to a full-size fridge would mean I could store a normal amount of perishable food, and would no longer need to go the grocery store three times a week. So I was devastated when the appliance store called the day before the scheduled delivery to tell me that the fridge is backordered. Nevertheless, the range and the hood arrived on time this week.

The new Bertazzoni range, partially unassembled and in protective packaging.
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Before the floors were refinished, my contractor cut and installed some new moulding around the panels beneath the windows in the dining room. I forgot to take a picture of the old moulding, but it was completely flat and uninteresting and almost certainly not original to the room. The new moulding really classes up the dining room windows and draws attention to the decorative, inset paneling. Late in the week, I patched all of the nail holes in the moulding with Ready Patch and caulked all of the seams. The window trim and paneling are now ready for a coat of bright white paint.

The current state of the dining room, with newly refinished floors.
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Estimated time for project: 12 weeks, but almost certainly more
Time remaining: 3+ weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #13 of Dan's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

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Renovation Diary: Dan's Kitchen

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