Thursday 31 March 2016

DIY Disaster: The Time We Sanded The Floorboards

We spent the Easter weekend knee deep in DIY. Well, I say we, I’ll be honest and say that my input was pretty minimum. I helped with what I could, but am a big fan of using pregnancy as my get out of work free card. We sanded and painted our bedroom floorboards and they look so beautiful that I still won’t let anyone in there for fear of ruining them. Since we had the sander for the weekend, we decided to try and get another room done as well.

Doing our bedroom was reasonably straightforward (if you ignore the fact that the first sander we hired broke mid-sanding and put a big dent in the floor), but things became more and more complicated as the weekend went on. Oak Furniture UK recently carried out a survey and found that as many as a quarter of us have abandoned flat pack furniture projects when things got tough. I’ve never given up on a flat pack project, but there were so many moments when we wanted to give up this weekend. I’m glad we didn’t though, because even though the job isn’t finished yet, I can already tell it’s going to be well worth the effort.

The plan is to switch the living room and playroom round before the baby arrives in August (you can follow my pregnancy updates here). In preparation for this, we decided to sand the floors in there. This seemed like a good idea but has proven to be a humongous ballache. When I pulled up the carpet, I found that the entire floor was covered in 1960s thick vinyl tiles (orange and beige, before you ask why we didn’t just keep them). It took about a day to pull all these up (I think mostly because pregnancy makes me very slow), and then we discovered quite a bit of cement over the floorboards which had to be chipped off. It wasn’t fun, but we (Laurie) eventually managed it.

After that, we had a room of what we thought were black painted floorboards which we decided to sand. Only it wasn’t paint, it was tar. Thick, black tar coating all of the floorboards (not just the edges of the room like I keep reading about online). The wonderful thing about tar is that it immediately melts when the electric sander heats up, and clogs up the entire sander belt rendering it unusable. Great, right? We could have given up then, probably we should have, but instead we persevered.

My wonderful mum and dad came over with supplies (biscuits and a fancy wire brush drill attachment) and helped Laurie to remove as much tar as possible. The job didn’t get finished in time, but by the end of the day, we could see that this pipe dream was possible. With a little bit of hard work, we’d be able to get the floorboards sanded nicely. So, for the next couple of weeks, Laurie’s plan is to clear the tar from a floorboard or two a night. Once they’re all done, we’ll hire a floor sander again to finish the room. I’m hoping we’ll get it done soon, but I’m also making a concerted effort to stay well clear of the tar remover fumes so it’s not really up to me.

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