The heart of our plan to renovate our 1890 Schoolhouse was to restore the main room to its original one-room-schoolhouse feel. The floor was a special challenge. Over the years the Schoolhouse had been carved up into multiple rooms. Once we removed the walls that had divided the main room (and removed the cheap Pergo that had been used in the former kitchen area) we found 3-inch Douglas Fir – typical of the time – that had been painted multiple times. The top layer of the area that had once been in bedroom #1 was dark brown. The top layer of what had once been bedroom #2 and the kitchen was marine grey. There were multiple patches – mostly plywood – high and low ridges, and some areas that were significantly damaged. Once those were patched, we had an even greater mishmash – grey, dark brown, some white, a bit of an inexplicable mint green, and some very, very fresh wood.
We thought about putting a floor over it. We thought about painting it. But before doing anything so drastic, we wanted to see if it could be saved. We tested it for lead – negativo. And that’s how Scott the Floor Genius joined our little family.
Scott’s been refinishing floors for years and was enthusiastic about saving the floor as soon as he saw it. (He also came up with a fabulously creative idea for the floor for the back half of house, which I’ll cover next, and a plan to stain the concrete floor in the basement, which I’ll write about if I ever manage to get to it.) Together we hatched a goal of 2/3 wood, 1/3 paint. To help blend the raw areas, before he got started I mixed paint to match what was there and threw some on the raw areas. Then I turned it over to Scott.
Like all projects worth doing, this one turned out to be tougher than we envisioned. The grey paint didn’t sand – instead it came up in long, stringy strips and had to be hand scraped (the guy who bought the Schoolhouse in 1942 when it was decommissioned was a sailor; our guess is that this was leftover marine paint of some kind). Today we took an early morning trip to the Schoolhouse to see the part that’s done and approve the transparent white stain that will be used to tone down the red in the old doug fir. The answer to “Can this floor be saved?” is a definite yes!