Our bedroom floor had some give to it, right by the door to the closet. The floor in the closet was soft too and it had been carpeted, presumably because it was a cheap and easy fix. We’re about to address a similar problem in the hallway, and we figured we ought to fix these spots at the same time.
We got the carpet out of there, and as suspected, the floor underneath was in bad shape. You can tell that someone had tried to do some temporary repairs (basically “add all the nails you can find!”). The wood floor is the same stuff that was in the hallway, probably added in the forties. Super thin, old, and brittle. Underneath? A subfloor that had been patched. With beadboard. And under the beadboard (yikes), the floor joists had been notched out to run plumbing for the very heavy cast iron radiator. No wonder the floor hadn’t held up there!
We saved the best pieces of flooring from the closet so that we could fix the portion in the bedroom at the same time. The floor in there runs through to the next room without a threshold, and to replace all of that right now isn’t something that we’re interested in doing. It isn’t in perfect shape, but the worst of it was that spot by the closet, and if we could patch it, that seemed like the best option.
I’m happy to lay new flooring (we’ve done it before), but fixing something that had already been fixed improperly? I was afraid I’d end up doing the same thing, which would lead to problems either immediately or down the line. Either way: not good. So after the wood planks were pried up, we had a pro remove the damaged sections of subfloor. The patched portion came up pretty easily with a crowbar and the back of a hammer, and he cut away a few other areas as well. Some of the floor joists were sistered and sturdy plywood was cut to fit.
Once the bedroom patch was done and the subfloor in the closet had been fixed, we had a sturdy surface that was ready for the new hardwood flooring.
A strong subfloor instead of a flimsy 75-year-old beadboard patch! How novel.
We shopped at Floor & Decor for wood to replace the old stuff in the remodeled portion of our hallway last year and had a great experience with them, so I was happy that they were looking to partner again.
They have big samples on display (this is just one small section of their wood flooring) and I really like their gray-based finishes, but I chose the same style as before: prefinished Gunstock solid oak hardwood flooring in 2-1/4″ wide planks, 3/4″ thick. It’s similar in color and width to what we have throughout the rest of the house, and since it’s solid oak, we could sand and refinish it if we ever wanted to. I also picked up the same underlayment again. It muffles noise, serves as a vapor barrier, and provides a little cushion.
Installation was pretty straightforward and took us three days (around four or five hours per day). Floor & Decor holds free classes on Saturdays teaching people about wood and laminate floors, how to install backsplashes, and all about working with tile and stone. They also have videos on their site with information on installation and choosing the right products. When you head out there, they have tons of options in stock and at really good prices, so you can choose your materials and bring everything you need home with you that day. Hooray for instant gratification! Just remember that if you’re putting in hardwood flooring like us, you need to give yourself a few days’ lead time to let the product sit and acclimate to your house.
The new flooring (on the right) makes the old floor (left) look pretty bad. You don’t realize how crummy something is until you get the nice, new stuff right up next to it! I mean, it’s a fine problem to have (boohoo, our new floor is too nice).
The closet floor needed to be replaced for practical reasons, but I’ve gotta say, it’s way more satisfying that some of the other work we’ve been doing to the house lately. Actual visual changes! Not just a vague “it’s safer” feeling, but something we can actually see! Woohoo.
The new floor makes me want to freshen up the rest of the closet now, too. It was a cool space before with it’s curved wall and window, and the little sink nook, but now it has the potential to be something pretty special.