i am apt to admire the bones in buildings — doors, trim, and floors being where my eyes go first. “ooh, i love these floors.” “ooh, look at how high these baseboards are.” “ooh, old doors!” our baseboards are pretty dece; not super ornate, but they’re high and plaster and original throughout the house. and we all know i took care of the doors, putting in super old ones, one by one as i found them. but our floors are only about four years old, installed the spring before we bought our house. they’re oak, and a nice colour, so no complaints, but they’re nothing special either; neither super-wide nor super-skinny, no inlays, they weren’t reclaimed from a factory or bowling alley… they’re just nice, new-ish hardwood floors. oh well.
so when the drywall came down downstairs, and pierre could see all the way around the tiled platform now taking up a large portion of our basement, and he said, “i think there’s hardwood under all this tile,” i really couldn’t have been more excited. i didn’t think our house had any secrets left. but then there were these floors. these super special, old, wide, multicoloured floors! which were rotten in a few places, and studded with hundreds of nails! joy!
after removing the tiles and the plywood sub floor to which they were glued, i methodically moved across each plank, pulling out two silo cups’ worth of rusty nails. the floors were filthy, too. from pulling out the rotten boards, i can see the remaining boards are just nailed to a wooden frame, which is sitting directly on top of dirt. hence the rusty nails and rotten floor boards; moisture is clearly an issue here.
but i really felt like we could love them a little bit and save them. (even though they’ll be the first things to go when we renovate our basement for real.) i cleaned them thoroughly, using latex gloves, a scrub brush, wood floor cleaner, several rags, and five buckets of blackened water. then i shop-vac’d them.
then i went to a wedding shower.
and when i came home there was a poisonous smell in the air. in the interests of achieving a useable basement sooner rather than later, pierre has decided to help out — which i’m very excited about. but while i was out, he coated the floors with a single coat of minwax polyurethane (an interior, clear, protective finish for wood) and i thought we were going to die in our sleep from the fumes.
the smell has finally, mostly dissipated, and we’re ready to do a second coat, but we won’t just yet, because we’re having some friends over on sunday and off-gassing wood sealant really doesn’t go with eggs.
instead, we’ve been keeping busy fixing little things, like replacing this rotten floor board. this basement is a temporary solution, so we’re not too worried about the details. hello, piece of cedar leftover from our de-pimping bed project. hello, leftover shed paint. voila, floorboard fixed. (the shims are leftover from the basement window trim.) also, that’s a nice close-up of the pile of dirt our house is just sitting on.
in between coats of the minwax, pierre suggested i finish the priming and painting of the brick walls and the pillars that border the “room” (platform?). the brick is a crumbling mess, so cleaning and painting it results in lots of debris all over the floor.
slightly less scary when primed? to the right of the pillar is primed and painted, left of the pillar just primed. and by primed i mean painted with some graceful grey paint leftover from painting our shed. because who needs to go spend $50 on a gallon of primer when you have ample light-coloured paint you’re not planning to use on anything?
when the platform (let’s just call it a platform) is finished and furnished, i’m going to write a post detailing how we put this entire space together using nothing but leftovers from past projects. it wasn’t intentional, but the only things we’ve bought so far for this space are the flour sacs for the curtain, the shelf brackets, and the minwax.
and finally, how are we feeling about leaving that one pillar exposed? i didn’t think the brick was in too bad shape… alas, someone had tarred the drywall directly to this pillar, and so the top bricks are still kind of gummy. pierre’s adamant we just paint it like everything else, but i’m thinking if we get some art to hang or maybe a mirror to lean against, it might not be too bad to leave as-is. suggestions?