Aug 242015
 August 24, 2015  Uncategorized  Add comments

Refinishing floors is almost always a logistical nightmare. It involves completely emptying a portion of your home and agreeing not to enter the area for at least two or three days. Things get even more complicated if the area to be refinished happens to include the primary entryway and common laundry for four condos. So I knew finding a convenient time to refinish the floors in the stairwell would be a challenge. But luckily, all of my neighbors were just as anxious as me to finally get the stairwell floors cleaned up and finished. And who could blame us? The floors have looked like this for the past few weeks:

Original Floors Ground Floor

Besides finding a time to refinish the floors that accommodated everyone’s schedule, we also needed to schedule the refinishing around the rest of the renovation work in the stairwell, and all things considered, this week seemed like an ideal time. We’ve reached a point where most of the carpentry work on the stairs is complete, so there’s less risk of damaging the refinished floors during later work. But we haven’t reinstalled the handrail yet, so the flooring guys ¬†have easy access to the floorboards around the balusters.

But before the floors were refinished, I needed to patch all of the holes left behind years ago when the old steam radiators and steam pipes were removed from the building.

Radiator Holes in Stairwell Floor

To patch these circular holes, which ranged in size from about 1 inch to 2.5 inches in diameter, I used a jigsaw to cut circular plugs out of some scrap pine (the pine was pre-primed, but the primer will be sanded off before the floor is finished). I traced out each of the circles with a compass and held the jigsaw at a slight angle as I cut so that each plug was slightly tapered.

Circular Flooring PlugAfter sanding down the rough edges, I ran a bead of wood glue around the outer edge of each plug, and then hammered it into place with a rubber mallet.

Circular Floor Plugs

Circular Floor Plugs

Although these plugs might not look perfect, they’re sturdy and should be pretty inconspicuous once the floors are finished. And plugging the holes just seemed more practical than completely replacing all of the floorboards with holes cut through them.

The refinishers showed up early this morning, and by the time I got home from work, they had sanded the floors and put down the first coat of polyurethane. I peeked in the front door at the still-wet floors when I got home, and I think it’s safe to say that the original, refinished, pine floors are going to make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the stairwell. I managed to snap a few blurry phone pictures of the in-progress floors. Here’s the flooring just inside the front door:

Refinished Stairwell Floors In Progress

There’s some gouging and discoloring on a few floorboards, along with a haphazard patch job in the middle of the hallway, but let’s just say it adds a lot of character to the space. Here’s an overhead shot showing the little landing at the top of the ground floor stairs, which was apparently redone in tongue and groove heart pine flooring at some point:

Refinished Stairwell Floors In Progress

And finally, here’s the second floor landing:

Refinished Stairwell Floors In Progress

I can’t wait to see how the floors turn out after two more coats of polyurethane. I’ll be back at the end of the week with some pictures of the finished floors.

  4 Responses to “Refinishing the Stairwell Floors: Part 1”

  1. Looking great! I love the character of the old wood. Did you and your neighbors all have to take a short vacation at the same time to get those floors refinished? I am curious about this!

    • Luckily the building has a back stairwell that we can use for access, although it’s less convenient than the front stairwell. And because of the layout of their condo, using the back stairwell is especially inconvenient for my upstairs neighbors, so we scheduled the refinishing while they’re away on vacation. But I’m glad all of us didn’t need to coordinate our vacations to accommodate refinishing the floors!

  2. Your neighbors are so fortunate to have you in their midst! You’ll all be so pleased and happy with this beautiful preservation/renovation when it’s complete.

  3. That’s going to be amazing. The wood has so much character! And I’ll bet your upstairs neighbors are going to think they are in the wrong building when they get back from vacation!

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