Salvaging hardwood floors, other progress on the house

We were pretty busy last weekend working on the remodel, as usual. Most of the stuff we did was prep work for our tile setter, but even though we put in about 50 hours this weekend we didn’t finish *any* of the tasks on our [punch list][]. However, we did get to 75-95% completion on eight of our punch items. The only thing we *did* get to cross off the punch list was our HVAC grills, etc. José came out on Friday and installed the grills and our new thermostat. Oh, and one more thing that wasn’t on the punch list–We were finally able to get rid of the “Blue Office”, as one of the crewmen referred to it:

[punch list]:


So, what did *we* do?

– Salvaged hardwood from the entry — We have about 150 ft2 of 60-year-old white oak which we’re going to replace with tile. We also added about 115 ft2 of new floor space to create the great room, most of which is already covered with the exact same flooring. Since we’re trying to use [green building][] techniques as much as possible, we were obviously interested in reusing the old hardwood for the new floor. Our hardwood contractor, [BeautiFloors](, also told us that salvaging would give us the best match with our existing floor. The salvage process deserves an article of its own, but I don’t have time to write it now. We managed to get nearly all of our hardwood up — we only have 2-3 boards on each side of the entry which we still need to pull, and we’ll probably get them done tonight.

[green building]:

– Screwed down the old subfloor
When the house was built back in the post-war years, they used 1×6 boards laid diagonally for the subfloor. The boards were nailed (not screwed) to the joists, without subfloor adhesive. After ~60 years, the old subfloor is loose and squeaky. It wasn’t feasible for us to replace the boards with modern T&G plywood, but 10 pounds of [deck screws]( and a few hours of labor was a reasonable investment. If there was any question in our minds about the efficacy of this, it was quickly answered once we got the second row of screws in–the difference between the screwed-down side and the nails-only side of the joist was extremely evident! As we were working, we started to notice that the nailed floor seemed soft or bouncy, whereas the screwed-down area felt stable and solid (and no longer squeaky).

– Repaired the original floor — Our house originally had an under-floor heater, which was replaced several decades ago; however, the holes for the heater and flue were still there. We’re laying tile over these holes, so we had to patch them.


– Laid out [Hardiebacker][] for the floor tile — We’re saving some money on the tile installation by doing some of the no-brainer work ourselves. Laying the Hardiebacker is pretty simple, but time consuming, considering we’re putting about 700 ft2 of tile in the entry, nook, kitchen, utility/laundry room, bathroom, and part of the hallway. We’ve got 41 of the 3′ x 5′ sheets already cut and laid out on the floor, leaving us with 4 or 5 more sheets to finish the job. Once it’s all cut and placed, we’ll start mixing up batches of Thinset and applying it under each sheet.
The major downside of this is that we had to take down our kitchen and laundry facilities *again*. Our tile setter assures us that we should be able to set up our laundry and kitchen (for keeps, this time!) on Sunday.


– Painted the old front door — Eventually we’re going to install a new front door, but until that happens we’re stuck with [the old door and its unattractive brown/green color]( There are quite a few homes in our neighborhood with brightly colored front doors, and Barb and I have always fancied the look. A bright red would be very attractive, but it’s the most common color in the neighborhood. Since the house is a nice light yellow we thought a contrasting color would look good, so we’re going to try a dark, rich purple. So far we’ve only got one color coat applied, and it’s going to take at least one more coat before I’ll try taking a “final” picture.

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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6 Responses to Salvaging hardwood floors, other progress on the house

  1. Good job on salvaging the old flooring. Your contractor was exactly right, you would never match the old patina with a new floor.

    Wiht the work you did stiffening up the old sub floor and installing the backer board, you should not have any problems with your tile.

    Congratulations, most do-it-yourselfers don’t take the ime to do it right.

  2. Jim says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Wood Sub Floor Guy! I wish I had read some of your suggestions about the subfloor preparation *before* we did our work. We didn’t put any vapor barrier between the subfloor and the Hardiebacker. A few rolls of 30# felt would probably keep the floor (and house!) a bit warmer. But hopefully once we are able to insulate under the old floor this will not be so much of an issue.

  3. wow, what a job that was, At least you did it the right way and took your time. nicely done!

  4. Jacki says:

    Maybe I missed it, but did you try to re-use the old wood flooring? We are renovating our 1922 4-square and have a good bit of old heart pine that we just loved, but it is not enough to fill the new space we need it for. I’m not sure it makes sense to pull it up, donate it, and then buy someone else’s reclaimed wood! Thanks for any thoughts,

  5. Jim says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Jacki. Yes, we *very* carefully pulled up all the flooring from the entryway. This was just barely enough to cover our addition.

  6. You did an amazing job at saving the old flooring. I’d like to see some pictures of the finished job. Thanks for sharing your experiences, I hope other DIY’s will see this 🙂 Great blog! Feel free to visit me 🙂

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