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What to do with a crappy hardwood floor

JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
edited January 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay folks, it's backstory time!

So my friend Chris bought this house, with the intentions of me moving in with him. Upon seeing the room meant for me, it was clear it needed work. We painted and took care of damages to the walls. But it leaves the matter of the floor.

Now the floor is hardwood, as evident by the thread title. Before we started painting, the floor was sloped, dirty, dented, dull, gouged and cracked in some places. After we painted, it was all that and had paint on it from various painting mishaps. We've been kicking around a few ideas on what to do...

- Leave it alone. It's shitty and there's nothing that can be done about it.
- Clean the paint up off it. I looked up how to do this and it seems that rubbing alcohol is the easiest way to get the paint...and the finish up. But the finish is ruined on most of the floor anyways.
- Refinish it. This could take skill I don't have, and despite looking up DIY guides online, I don't feel comfortable doing it myself.
- Refinish it profesionally. This will cost money, but I'm not sure how much. Any ideas on an estimate? The room is 13'9" x 10'8" for a majority of it with a small addon space.
My concern with refinishing the floor, both professionally and DIY style is that boards might have to be replaced, which would drive the cost up.
- Lay a carpet down. Another thing I looked up to DIY, and I feel I can't do. My friend thinks it's easy, but after reading stuff about taking the molding off, I'm not quite sure I want to jump into this. But it would cover the damaged floor.
- Lay a carpet down professionally. Again, money. But it could be cheaper than refinishing the floor professionally. I think? I don't actually know.

So, any advice on what to do?

JustinSane07 on

Posts

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    How much would you be okay spending on this? Shitty hardwood floors can be refinished and look amazing. If anything, you can probably get a free quote.

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  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    I really don't know what my budget would be cuz I don't know where the pricing would start. I have a tough time just making up numbers in my head.

  • EskimoDaveEskimoDave Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    the easiest/cheapest would to be lay carpet yourself.

  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What's underneath the hardwood floor?

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User
    edited January 2009
    How long do you plan to live there? Is Chris willing to pitch in? These can help you get a bearing on how much you should really consider putting into a floor that really you don't own. That being said, nobody likes to live in crap.

    Some ideas on the cheap:

    Sometimes the "distressed" look can be pretty attractive. Maybe try to clean up the worst of the damage and keep it that way? The adjectives "sloped" and "cracked" worry me though.

    Also, area rugs can be a cheap way to minimize the open floor seen by people. Your furniture should also cover a good deal. My fiancé's apartment also had very old hardwood floors and she just got some sheepskin rugs to throw around over the crappyest of spots.

    I'm not wild on the idea of wall-to-wall carpet though. I don't have any estimates but the chance to get some beautiful refurbished hardwood always seems a better option than putting down some berber.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2009
    If neither of you are prepared to fork out to get it sanded and refinished, I guess you could always just paint it.

    People will hate you for it, but at least it won't look like Pollock's studio any more.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Rescreening a floor can be pretty expensive. If the boards need a lot of work, it could be $1,000s. That's probably on the high side, though.

    I wouldn't recomend doing any repairs yourself - is there anyone you know who's at least a general contractor type?

    I would probably either spend the money to have someone do it, or just carpet over it. Carpet is much ceaper than redoing a floor, yes.

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  • SmurphSmurph Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I would say area rug. You can probably find a decent one that is about the size of your room, or 2 that cover most everything minus the space covered by your bed. That or put down carpet yourself.

  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'm told that these days, pulling up all the hardwood flooring(this part probably depends on how it was initially installed) and laying down new flooring is relatively pretty easy, and generally not more expensive than paying to get it refinished, which won't look as good as all new wood. You can buy the little puzzle-piece slats that you lay down and you hammer them together with the sockets that are built into them.

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  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    you can rent a floor sander for about 100 dollars and use it for a day. then buy some wood stain and apply a few layers. then finish it off with some kind of protective layer, varnish or something i forget. it took me and my friends about a week to finish this and the floor ended up much better looking.

  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    What's underneath the hardwood floor?

    Hell if we know. There's a damn puzzle on the wall in the main stairway that we don't want to take off for fear of what's behind it.

    As far the "sloped" adjective goes, let me see if I can describe this.

    If you're standing in the doorway, if you were to walk straight ahead about 13' you'd walk face first into the wall that's against the outside of the house. You'd also be walking at an incline. From the outside wall, I'm going to call it, there's a noticeable slope in the floor for about 10", and then the rest of the floor is a very gradual slope to the wall where the door is. We put a golf ball down to test this, and sure enough, it kept rolling to the corner where the door is. No matter where we put it in the room. The whole floor funnels, of sorts, to the door.

    Here's the problem I have with putting carpet down. First, there's very little ground clearence from the door to the floor presently. I'd probably have to make the door shorter by shaving some of the bottom off of it to get this to work. But to be fair, that's a pretty easy fix. I already had to do this to get the door to close silently.

    The more major problem I have is this, when you come up the stairs, you stand on what's more of a stoop. Left is my other friend's room, right is "my" room, and straight in your face is a wall. There's no hallway to speak of. To get into either room, you have to step up again. Now this stair way is not carpeted either. So I fear that carpeting my room, to the doorway, might not only look kinda stupid (there's no other carpet in the house at all, it's all floors) but I'm concerned with the safety of this.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I really don't know what my budget would be cuz I don't know where the pricing would start. I have a tough time just making up numbers in my head.
    Ask Chris, it is his house after all. Let's face it, cheaper options won't look as good, but they will certainly look. I don't know what someone would charge either, but this is where getting a quote comes into play.

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Having carpet laid is cheap, and paying Home Depot or whoever to do it adds very little to the overall cost. They will give you free quotes.

    Floor refinishers will also give you free quotes; you can often do it over the phone if you only have one room; get the measurements and they'll usually do it by sq ft.

    I had about 1000 sq ft redone, including stairs, and it cost, I think, about $2100 for the whole deal.

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  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I don't know, if it's already ruined, I don't see what the problem would be to just get a belt sander or floor sander and go at it, and then get a durable clear coat to paint over the top, it would probably look leagues better.

    As to fixing the tilt, that could be considerably more work and money. A lot of people use lightweight concrete, like gypcrete to pour in over the sub-floor, which since it's a colloidal liquid will naturally level. There's so many concrete finishes out there now that you wouldn't even need to refloor, probably just polish the concrete for the best look.

    Edit: I should not the though that this adds weight to the floor and can cause continued deflection problems which then create cracking in your new concrete, so it's best to figure why the floor is moving to begin with, which is usually a soils issue.

    If you wanna go cheap, clean off the paint, and throw down some nice rugs.

  • meekermeeker Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    As far the "sloped" adjective goes, let me see if I can describe this.

    If you're standing in the doorway, if you were to walk straight ahead about 13' you'd walk face first into the wall that's against the outside of the house. You'd also be walking at an incline. From the outside wall, I'm going to call it, there's a noticeable slope in the floor for about 10", and then the rest of the floor is a very gradual slope to the wall where the door is. We put a golf ball down to test this, and sure enough, it kept rolling to the corner where the door is. No matter where we put it in the room. The whole floor funnels, of sorts, to the door.

    I would have serious worries about the foundation if the floor is sloped 10". Did Chris get the house inspected?

  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Oh no, the slope is not 10" deep, it's more like 2-3" deep, but it's kinda sharp in that it lasts about 9-10" before being a very gradual decline until you reach the door. We're not quite sure why it's like this, but it might have something to do with the guy that owned the house before being a do-it-yourself kind of guy. I have this idea that he might have built the upstairs part of the house on his own. It's very very amateur looking in all regards.

    He did have it inspected and there is some termite damage to the basement, but nothing to the second floor.

    There's a Home Depot roughly 2 miles from the house, I'll have to check with them about putting a rug down.

  • MrMonroeMrMonroe Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Wait, is the room on the first or second floor? On the first floor that's probably the foundation slowly sinking but on the second it's like, um

    I can't even think of what would cause that unless it was simply built off-kilter.

    In either case, you're not fixing the slope without redoing the foundation or the load-bearing interior parts of the house which will cost you a big chunk of cash.

    I'm in the DIY sand it and finish it crowd. If you ask the guys at home depot they'll be able to tell you what kind of varnish would be best. If you can find or figure out what type of wood it is that will help them.

    Just for the love of god remember to do a thorough vacuuming of the room before you start putting varnish down.

  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    OK, I've done this in all the ground floor rooms of my house, its easy, but very messy.

    1. Buy some paint stripper, rubber gloves, a cheap paint brush, a paint scraper, some 00 and 0000 wire wool, some cling film, old newspapers and some white vinegar.
    2. Open all the windows in your room, put the rubber gloves on, wear old clothes and paint the paint stripper on top of the paint you spilled.
    3. Cover it in cling film (sarin wrap??) and leave for 1 hour.
    4. Using the paint scraper, scrape off the cling film with the paint stripper and gooey old paint, and dump it into the middle of your old newspaper, throw it away.
    5. Go over the residue of gooey paint with 00 wire wool and a little more paint stripper, carefully, rubbing along the boards, in the direction of the grain.
    6. Repeat, with 0000 wire wool.
    7. Repeat with clear vinegar to neutralise the alkaline paint stripper residue.
    8. Leave to dry, then take your gloves off.

    Then, either:-

    a) scrub the floor with a mild detergent and some water, mopping up the muddy water as you go. Leave to dry, rub down a little in the direction of the grain, then varnish/lacquer the floor. Or wax it - could be slippy, though.

    or

    b) hire a sander, sand the floor properly and then varnish/lacquer after you've swept up all the dust.

    If you hire a sander, wood dust will get everywhere, including up your nose and in your eyes. Buy goggles and a face mask. If you just scrub the floor, it won't be perfect, but with a couple of rugs, it will be fine.

    Laying a carpet in a bedroom isn't that hard, either, just be sure you get a Stanley knife with a carpet cutting blade. You don't have to remove the skirting boards (mouldings). To stop the door catching on the carpet, lay a sheet or 2 of sandpaper on top of the carpet, and open and close the door over it til it stops catching - easier than trimming the door, cos you only do it til it doesn't catch = no gaps at the bottom of the door.

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  • MrMonroeMrMonroe Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Well that's the correct way.

    Mine is just the theater company way.

  • Dark_SideDark_Side Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    MrMonroe wrote: »
    Wait, is the room on the first or second floor? On the first floor that's probably the foundation slowly sinking but on the second it's like, um

    I can't even think of what would cause that unless it was simply built off-kilter.

    In either case, you're not fixing the slope without redoing the foundation or the load-bearing interior parts of the house which will cost you a big chunk of cash.

    It could be multiple things, if this 2nd story was built by amateurs they could have undersized the framing, not evaluated the extra load on the foundation, causing deflection, used wet wood, or just built it bad. Being he didn't buy the house, it's not really his concern so much as the owner's, the real key to fixing that problem is determining what caused the deflection, there are cheap ways to fix it if you can make sure no more deflection will occur.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    MrMonroe wrote: »
    Well that's the correct way.

    Mine is just the theater company way.

    Haha, we also just paint over things.

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  • MorinokoMorinoko Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Could you post a pic?

    I love hardwood floors, an idea of how bad it really is would be good to see if it's worth it.

  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    My floors are softwood (sadly) but I'll take a pic in a bit.

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  • ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... and hard.Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I think he meant the OP? Though I certainly won't stop you. :)

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  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Morinoko wrote: »
    Could you post a pic?

    I love hardwood floors, an idea of how bad it really is would be good to see if it's worth it.

    Yeah, I can get some pictures taken next time I'm over there, which will be Friday night.

  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Here's some pics:

    This is my hall floor, with part of the side of the staircase. I used a hot air gun to strip the staircase - it had over 100 years of paint on it! I then sanded it and waxed it. I sanded the floor with a hired sander, then stained it and varnished it.

    [URL="[URL=http://img218.imageshack.us/my.php?image=woodhallfloornm1.jpg][IMG]http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/8936/woodhallfloornm1.th.jpg[/IMG][/URL]"]woodhallfloornm1.th.jpg

    This is the kitchen floor - sanded with a hired sander, stained then varnished.

    [URL="[URL=http://img216.imageshack.us/my.php?image=woodkitchenfloorrm6.jpg][IMG]http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/1079/woodkitchenfloorrm6.th.jpg[/IMG][/URL]"]woodkitchenfloorrm6.th.jpg

    Here's a bit more floor

    [URL="[URL=http://img218.imageshack.us/my.php?image=woodmorehallfloorke9.jpg][IMG]http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/7509/woodmorehallfloorke9.th.jpg[/IMG][/URL]"]woodmorehallfloorke9.th.jpg

    This is a close-up of the staircase - it took me 2 days to do.

    [URL="[URL=http://img216.imageshack.us/my.php?image=woodstaircasenv4.jpg][IMG]http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/2303/woodstaircasenv4.th.jpg[/IMG][/URL]"]woodstaircasenv4.th.jpg

    Taking the photos made me realise the floors need more varnish.D:

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Is a hired sander a rented tool or hired labor?

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    You got some nice wood there, Mrs P.



    wait....

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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Sadly, a hired sander is a rented piece of equipment! Like this. You have to buy sheets of sandpaper to fit it, in varying grades of abrasiveness. Its hard work controlling it, as its heavy. You sand the floor diagonally across the grain first, then with the grain, then vacuum all the dust up. I tape up the door to the room I'm sanding in, so that the dust doesn't percolate throughout the house.

    And MichaelLC, thank you, I think!

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  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Stripping a hardwood floor and refinishing it can be easyish or frustrating as hell, depending on whether you get an orbital floor sander http://www.hardwood-floor-sanders.com/orbitalsanders.asp or a belt floor sander http://www.hardwood-floor-sanders.com/beltsanders.asp. If you can only rent a belt sander, it will suck. Your first time using the sander you'll probably end up gouging the floor and probably take off an uneven amount and have waves in the floor. But the sanding is the worst part. Applying the stain and then the urethane is just tedious, but a lot easier. And you might not be able to strip the flooring depending on how much of the wear layer you have left.

    Is there a subfloor underneath the hardwood? If there is, you can also consider ripping out the flooring and putting in a floating floor of some type.

    To get an idea of prices, just go to Home Depot or Menards or some other home improvement place and look at what they have in the flooring section. Figure out the price per sq. ft. and multiply that by the square footage of the room + 10%.

  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'll definitely echo going to a rental place and renting a belt sander. You could easily do a room that size in a day. Once you get it sanded you'll want to vac up all the junk, then start staining and refinishing. You can do the whole process (correctly) in about a week, and it will look brand new.

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  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    So after talking about it with a friend, not Chris, I think I've decided that carpet is the best option. Replacing the hardwood would be way too costly.

    And after some research in carpeting, it appears that the big chains (NationalFloorsDirect, Empire Today, HomeDepot, etc) are bad bad ideas. They all use independent contractors and use that as a way to weasel out of responsibility for bad jobs.

    So now I'm looking for good, local smaller stores.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    If it's Chris' house, shouldn't he be making the decisions and shouldn't you not be spending money on it?

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  • BelruelBelruel naw Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    yeah, since it isn't your house i would recommend not spending money doing anything to the floor. go out and look at carpets, find a nice large carpet and put that down. now when you move out, you can take that carpet with you

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  • JustinSane07JustinSane07 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Whoever said I was spending money?

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    So after talking about it with a friend, not Chris, I think I've decided that carpet is the best option. Replacing the hardwood would be way too costly.

    And after some research in carpeting, it appears that the big chains (NationalFloorsDirect, Empire Today, HomeDepot, etc) are bad bad ideas. They all use independent contractors and use that as a way to weasel out of responsibility for bad jobs.

    So now I'm looking for good, local smaller stores.
    This makes it sound like you are the one making the decisions with cost as a factor.

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  • Ash of YewAsh of Yew Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What you should probably do is buy the carpet/pad from a big store like Home Depot then have someone else install it if you don't want to use their guys. Smaller carpet stores will probably rip you off on the price of the carpet/pad. Keep in mind even independant contractors are going to need to be licensed and stuff, so if they really fuck up a job they're still responsible.

    I don't have a whole lot of experience on that side of things but my dad is a carpety layer and I've worked with him for a while and that seemed to usually be his recommendation when people would ask.

    All that being said if your floor is messed up at weird angles and stuff and rotting or whatever, simply covering it with carpet isn't really a great solution. You'll just have a funky floor, covered with carpet, and any big bumps/dips and whatever you're just going to feel threw it.

    The other thing to consider, although I guess it doesn't matter as much to you is that if you do go through a carpet company they'll charge say 9 dollars a yard and pay the installers 4.

    Anyways check around for the best deal, a good thing to do is ask the same questions to multiple stores and then you can get a feel to who is bullshitting you.

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