Lakeshore Cottage

A reno blog for a cottage just outside of Toronto
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Long weekend work – refinishing floors, paint, and more

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

I was lucky enough to have a 4 day long weekend for Easter and I spent pretty much all of it working on the cottage. I’m pretty exhausted.

Friday I sanded down what will be the dining room table that I was given and painted the ceiling in the main room. I’m not yet sure what paint or stain or colour it’ll end up being.



Ceiling paint – note the grey/darker colour of the old ceiling around the lights (I’ll pretend it’s the paint colour):

Monday a friend came up and conquered part of the hill that leads from the house down to the water while I replaced 3 stairs that had rotted out and reinforced other stairs. It was a pretty shitty day outside and I was exhausted from only 4 hours of sleep the night before (more later), but 10 yard waste bags later we had the following…

Before – the right side but this is what the entire hill looks like:

After – left side:

The majority of the weekend was essentially spent refinishing the red oak hardwood floors in the main room. Remember that countless hours have been spent sanding and mudding the walls to make them flat to remove the old drywall texture that someone thought was super rad and put everywhere in the house. The electrical was updated and 6 pot lights were added (there previously wasn’t any overhead lighting). The old urine-soaked MDF (?) floor and subfloor were ripped up (took like 2 minutes to do), we put down new 1/4″ on top of the floor planks to even out the height, and tar paper and shingles were used to make the floor as flat as possible. I purchased 400 square feet worth of red oak hardwood that had previously been torn out of a basement due to water damage and Molly spent 3 days grinding out the nails in every single board. I then nailed down the floor and finally it was ready for sanding.

This is what it looked like when I did the home inspection on it last summer:

Before hitting it with a sander – the grey boards are water damaged:

Sanding progression:

I started with 20 grit.

Progressed to 36 grit. This is about mid-way through.

Then made my way through 60 and 80:

Finally done with sanding.

After a lot of sweeping, vacuuming and then going over it on my hands and knees with cloths to get residual dust, I began applying the clear coat.

Done with the first coat:

Final coat, still wet. I think it’s blurry because it was 3am and my priority at the time was sleep:

Monday morning – totally dry floor, 3 coats:

I used¬†Diamond Wood Finish by Varathane (a Rust-oleum product) in semi-gloss, a water-based finish (I don’t want to call it polyurethane) – this is it here at Home Depot. This floor is between 200-280 sf and 3 coats used just under half a gallon. I applied it with a brush and it took me about an hour for each pass. It takes 2-3 hours to dry between coats. Water-based stain doesn’t amber the wood as much as oil-based does. I wanted the lighter look.

Here’s a decent before/after:

Ha, I just noticed that Rosie is in both of them. Anyway. It looks great, I’m really happy with it, and I love how it turned out. The lighter colour was definitely the right choice. I love it.

Random thoughts:

  • I’m impressed with how the water damaged floor came back to life and it’s not really noticeable in the final coat.
  • Even though the floor was sanded smooth, something called “grain raise” did happen which just means the floor is a bit rough in spots. It was noted on the can and they said to sand the floor with fine sandpaper before applying the final coat to fix it. I didn’t do that, I may do that eventually, but I was too tired and did not have the right sandpaper to do it even if I had the energy at 2am.
  • You can use an applicator but I preferred the 3″ brush because I could wipe away dirt and the inevitable dog hair before applying. It just meant it took longer – about an hour for each coat.
  • Use the proper sanding equipment. I was given the Clarke OBS-18 Orbital Sander by the Home Depot guy and it took me forever to do because I had more cupping than was forgiveable by the large rectangular sander/buffer. I should have rented a drum sander. However, since this was my first large-scale sanding project and this will be a highly visible and trafficked area, I’ll forgive the amount of time it took me to do it because I didn’t gouge the floor (which is a risk with the drum sander and something I was concerned about). Next time though, it’s drum sander or bust.
  • When I hit the 60 grit, I did a first pass at it with the large sander and then had to re-assess how well (badly?) it was doing. I needed to use my 5″ hand sander to get the areas of the boards where the Clarke couldn’t go. It took a few more painstaking hours to do this and was mostly focused around where the boards met up. It went faster if I tilted it a bit but you have to watch not to gouge the wood (I did in one spot where the floor meets the bedroom flooring, oops). Then I went over it with another sheet of the larger 60 and ended with the 80.
  • I was really hesitant with the more aggressive grit (20 and 36) because I’d never done this before. I was worried that with the amount of dust I was producing, it meant I was sanding too much of the wood. By the time I got to the 36 grit I had convinced myself it was going to be fine, but I feel like I should have used more of the 20 whereas I ended up using more of the 36. Maybe it doesn’t even matter, but I eventually got comfortable with the machine and all was fine. It didn’t help that it took so long for the original stain to come off, but I think that’s mostly because I was using the wrong sander. Also, I still don’t know the proper sanding technique… are you supposed to do many quicker moving passes, or is it okay to go slow? I only YouTube’d the drum sander, not this orbital sander, so I (still) don’t know what is normal.
  • Check your paper supply! I walked out with like seven sheets of 60 and only one 80 because the paper was on the wrong shelf.
  • Always wear a mask and cover everything/block off doorways! If you have a fan, put it in the window to help pull the dusty air out (I didn’t have one but it would have been nice).

Cost of project:

$400 – reclaimed flooring
$144 – sander rental and paper
$90 – misc supplies/shingles/tar paper
$70 – clear coat

Total: $704-ish

Hours: an insane amount

It took a long time to do and was a lot of work, but the experience and final product is worth it to me. Would I do it again? Maybe… I would probably try to find new flooring that I like and skip the refinishing part of it. I do need to sand down the rest of the cottage though since the existing hardwood is in very rough shape but it’ll be a drum sander for that job. I’m really looking forward to moving furniture into the main room next weekend.

New floor and windows

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

There have been some fun developments in the “helps the place look polished” department. My final 3 windows arrived and Steve and I installed them. This makes 4 windows of the same size in the main room and bedrooms, and one in the bathroom. I’m not sure if I posted it before, but they were all bought through Discount Door. The prices are great and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again.

Before – old windows (1955-ish?):


Outside side shot… and you can also see the pellet stove piping. Steve fabricated a metal support post for it and put that in place (as difficult as driving it into the ground, ha, probably the easiest thing ever done to the cottage). This is the most unattractive side of the house, mostly because of the large hole in the ground for the septic tank access. It’s hideous and I feel sorry for my neighbours on this side because they were trying to sell their place for months. I think I’ve added “some sort of wood deck structure to cover the hole” to the list of things to do to improve the area. Also, check out the support post that is propping up covering over the deck. It’s maybe supporting the roof covering with an inch or two of that angled piece of wood, which isn’t even attached directly to the post. I need a new 4×4 post to properly support it. Also need to sort out all the water that is managing to fall on that side of the deck/house.

And then there was this. The hardwood flooring I scored off kijiji was laid. I still need to face nail the last 3 rows (that pains me). I wish the nailer could get in there. It looks amazing, though, and went together much better than the old stuff I reclaimed/reused in the main living area. However, I do have to agree with Molly’s dad (hello Charles!) that there seems to be a big difference in quality of the wood in the new vs. old. The old stuff is oak and hard and feels durable, even if the boards were a bit warped/rough and needed more massaging to fit in place. This new stuff fits together easier than lego but feels really light and cheap. Maybe it’s just the wood itself (it’s maple) but the oak felt more substantial. Regardless, it’s awesome, and now hardwood covers the entire cottage floor.

So the eco audit deadline has officially passed. Due to the inspector having a life, I won’t be able to get the return audit done until May 5th or 6th or something. I ended up replacing all the windows but didn’t get to finishing off the crawlspace in a way that would allow for the $250 floor insulating rebate. I can live with it though.

It’s a short week this week and next (for me) and I’m tossing around the idea of renting a drum sander and finishing off the floors in the main room over the long weekend. Must research more, though!