So I left you with a little bit of a teaser last time.

Saturday, November  27

Saturday on our home improvement holiday weekend, was spent finishing up the hardwood floor install. I have to say that this was way easier than I thought. Well, granted Wes did a lot of the work but I was certainly the trusty sidekick. To start with, we brought as much of our planks into the kitchen so they were within reach and started laying out row after row. This was a great tip from the hubby’s shop manager who suggested you lay it out and cut your ends all at once. That way you don’t have a lot of pausing at the end of each row. You can get a rhythm going which is really important to getting a project done! So we laid it out and then went to town installing each row. Our flooring was tongue and groove with a staple installation which meant that we needed a rubber mallet and a pneumatic stapler. We certainly didn’t buy one but rented one for a day and a half from Home Depot. Because of the tongue and groove construction, we had to make sure the planks were locked in place. Thats where the rubber mallet came into play. It helps whack those guys together whichout damaging the sides of your flooring. Once you have a tight fit, you just go down the row and whack the pneumatic stapler which attaches the planks to the subfloor and helps get the planks even tighter together. Thats it. Way easier than tiling in my opinion. No thinset, no grout. Definitely not as messy. Love it!

So the floor was done. We certainly felt like we could do a little happy dance after this because finally a major milestone had been accomplished. We had a floor. But the fun doesn’t stop there, we still had to finish them. So we headed to Home Depot (Trip #382…ok, I lost count) to rent a floor sander.

We get back home with the giant floor sander and Wes went to town. (It has just been pointed out to me that I did a horrible job of taking any action shots of our project. Um, I’m sorry. I was kind of busy helping remodel the entire kitchen :)).

<insert picture of Wes sanding if I had one, but I don’t because I’m lame.>

After sanding the floor, we started to vacuum all the dust so that we had a perfectly debris-free floor for staining. Thats when the vacuum died. Awesome. Off to Home Depot I go (Trip #1,082) to purchase a shop vac. I guess we needed one anyway. At least thats what I tell myself while shelling out $50 for a stupid vacuum that we don’t have room to store.

Back home with the shop vac and it has way more sucking power than I thought. Sweet! This thing is actually pretty handy. The floor is now debris free and Wes starts to stain and I’m in charge of wiping. So we start in the top right corner and do small sections at a time making sure to move quickly so we don’t have sections that dry before we can wipe and blend the edges together. Again, mucho importante. This helps avoid lapping marks and gives you nice even coats. It also leaves a thin coat of stain that the wood actually absorbs instead of thick puddles that will wear over time.

BAM! Stained floors. Now I have to make another statement here which I’m sure you have heard before. You get what you pay for. We did not purchase our stain or polyurethane at our local home improvement store. We chose to purchase our supplies at a local paint store that provides more professional use products. We tried a few sample pieces with Minwax stain and a poly found at Home Depot and did not get the results we wanted so we decided to shell out the extra cash to get a better product. The moment we completed the sample, we knew we made the right choice. The finish was beautiful. Is the color the exact same as our existing? No but it is pretty darn close if you ask me. Something that we weren’t going to achieve with the cheaper stuff. Just a little friendly advice from me to you.

Anyway, after applying the stain with a rag and wiping off with a rag, we let it dry the appropriate amount of time (just read the label) and then added our first coat of polyurethane. We chose a water based polyurethane since we would be in the house while it dried (oil based poly is super smelley) and it dries faster. Pretty critical when you are trying to have a functioning kitchen as soon as possible.

I finally took an action shot. Go Me!

Before polying, make sure to put on your protective booties (refer to photo above. Cute, huh?). This keeps your shoes from scuffing up the floor and messing up you finish. Then lightly sand so that the floor will absorb the poly. You apply the poly with a sponge applicator that can be purchased at Home Depot/Lowes. You want to make sure and get even coats. No puddles. Important! We chose to apply (3) coats of polyurethane for a super hard finish that filled the grain and left us with a smooth top coat. Make sure to let the floor dry the appropriate amount of time between coats and sand each time.

This step carried into Sunday a bit beacuse of the drying time. Patience, my friend. Patience.

We just had to stare at the beautiful floor until it dried and keep the dogs away from it. Not too difficult actually when you have lazy dogs like ours that just sleep all the time.

We spent the afternoon painting the base cabinets since we aren’t very good at sitting still. By Sunday night the floors finally were dry. I went grocery shopping for anything that could be prepared in a microwave and Wes started a little project of his own. Installing the base cabinets. What?! Yep, we are pretty impatient around here. I came back from grocery shopping to this.

Oh, did I forget to mention that we painted the walls too. Yep, early Sunday morning before the last coat of poly, I carfully painted the walls. Most stressful painting of my life. If I had gotten paint on the new floors, I’m pretty sure Wes would have been filing for divorce. We chose very neutral Benjamin Moore Ashwood which is kind of a cream with a hint of green. I really like it. More neutral than I’m used to which is why I’m looking forward to adding some art and splashes of color in there.

But back to the cabinets. Don’t they look amazing? I love white cabinets. They make me happy and the butcher block counter?! Awesome!!

So what do you think? An improvement or worse than when we started? We still had a ways to go but we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.