This old house: From two layers of icky vinyl to the original hardwood…a work in progress


After 20 years of living in this house, we both agreed that the kitchen flooring had to go. Actually, we probably agreed on that about 10 years ago, but it’s taken 10 years to move in that direction.

About a year ago, while fiddling with the edge of the vinyl flooring, I determined that under all that ugliness must be a solid wood floor. After all, over the years, we’d unearthed gorgeous wood floors throughout the house so it just made sense that 90 years ago the builders would also have used wood in the kitchen.

Here’s the thing. When we moved into the house, there was the most horrendous multi-shaded pink carpeting (my apologies to the former owners). It took us less than a day to decide it had to go and while pulling up the corner of the carpet — yes, I tend to do this — I discovered oak floors.

So on a Sunday afternoon, after sending both daughters off to Chicago/Milwaukee to spend the week with their aunts and uncles, we began sanding the floors.

I remember this part distinctly. I grabbed the handles of the sander and took off, knowing the noisy, vibrating machine would hide the sound of my sobs and take my mind off the fact that house seemed oh so empty. My husband did his best not to roll his eyes and didn’t bother asking if I wanted him to take over.

By the time we finished two days later, the floors were clear of the black stains and ready for the polyurethane.

Now we’re back at it. The girls are in their own homes now and while both think it is a fine idea we’re doing this, neither one offered to help out. That’s okay, kiddos, we’re tough old birds.

I use the term “we” loosely, because so far all I’ve had to do is sweep. The hubs has managed to rip up nearly half of the flooring while I was at work. What we’ve discovered is that these are wider floor boards and perhaps not of the same quality as those in the other rooms. So whether the sander will produce a floor worthy of clear polyurethane or shiny floor paint remains to be seen.

Hopefully, in a few weeks, we’ll be gazing fondly at our “new” floor.

Now…before, during, and….after?
After? We’ll see…and let you know. But just for the record, this is what the floors in the living room look like.

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4 responses to “This old house: From two layers of icky vinyl to the original hardwood…a work in progress

  1. that looks a lot like what our kitchen floor looked like when we stripped off the linoleum. I don’t think ours could have been made to look pretty. I hope yours can. If not, that’s a good idea to paint them.

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      We’ll see. It’s pretty icky right now — looks like a lot of black goo is stuck to the wood. But paint would be okay.

  2. Bill Luginbuhl

    My 1899 house had oak in all rooms except the kitchen which was maple. The maple had stains, burn marks, and it had shrunk leaving gaps between the boards. I replaced it with oak. The other oak floors were fine.
    This is the fourth house I’ve refinished floors in. One house had pine or fir in the bedrooms which didn’t refinish as well as hardwood. The new oak floor didn’t look very interesting for a few years then the darker shades started showing up. All of the wood was covered in this house with wood look vinyl in one room. The kitchen had scary DIY sheet vinyl secured with roofing nails!

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