D spent the last five days powering through the last four steps to finish our upstairs, stairway, and entryway floors.

When this house was purchased, these floors were buried.  I don’t mean “they need to be sanded and refinished!” buried.  I am talking prehistory here.  This project was downright archaeological.  The original fir was stained a deep red hue, painted (multiple times! with lead!) around the perimeter multiple times (only around whatever area rugs were in style at the time), covered (gasp) with asbestos (!!!) linoleum (no!) which was affixed with the equivalent of road tar (SOB!), THEN carpeted (RIP Lanny).  The first (of many) steps was getting the carpet staples out, followed by chipping off  the linoleum tiles to expose the atrocities below. It was basically the seven layers of hell.  Dante had nothing on the Henry Lydell House floors.

My detail-oriented husband spent countless evenings removing the crap from between each floor board with dental tools.  DENTAL TOOLS, PEOPLE.  Long-story-short, this has been a long time coming.

Without further ado:

I really love the way these turned out.  You can’t get this kind of tonal variation with new hardwood flooring.  I love the textural imperfection and diversity from one board to the next.

I’ll definitely be able to enjoy my office in a whole new way!

Small burn scars dot the floor around the chimney where a pot-belly wood stove used to be.  Unfortunately, such an addition is not in the cards for an infant playroom, but these small marks are a great reminder of what (and who) was here before us.

I loved this room before, but the floor finish brings new life into the space.  The flat, unfinished wood sucked all the light in and made the room feel dull and uninspiring.  Now, the room has brightness it never had before.


Similarly, the staircase was a gloomy, dark, drab space that trapped light and was difficult to navigate.  Now, it feels bright, airy, and lovely.  With the new handrail in place, it really feels like it’s coming together.

D built a new threshold for the transition between the porch and entryway!

For comparison, here are the floors in each of the rooms (bedroom – left; living room – right)  that open to the entryway.  You can see how the material has been layered and layered and layered over the years.  This contrast is the perfect way to sustain motivation and keep on improving our old house.


The product we used is a heavy-duty oil-based polyurethane called Fabulon, and I have to say that our floors look pretty darn Fabulon (hah!) because of it.  This is the same product we used on the porch with beautiful results.  We applied four coats by hand (with a brush, rather than pouring and spreading with a pad and pole).  We didn’t stain the floors before applying the poly either.  We preferred the natural color of the wood, and we regret nothing!

My husband has sacrificed countless hours of sleep and precious time away from his daughter (and me) to finish this project.  He raced home from work every evening to sand the night away.  He spent entire weekends working 16+ hour days to get this done. 

As for the finished product?  Would I say it’s worth it?  To someone else, this might appear to be just another DIY home improvement project.  In reality, it is the culmination of ten (10!!!) years of hard work, pushing past the point of exhaustion, challenges, overcoming learning curves, salvage hunting, color matching, and plain old doing-the-damn-work.

Five days and four nights at my in-laws home is the icing. (Really generous icing on their part, I should add.)  As I stand here, taking it all in, I cannot help but feel so overwhelmed by the weight of a decade being lifted off my shoulders that I sit in my daughter’s new playroom and sob.  Today is a really, really big day, and I couldn’t be more proud of the man who made it happen.


Was it worth it?