Flooring maketh the house

When we bought our Queenslander, I stated firmly that there were two things that were non-negotiable in the purchase of the house. Firstly, that the floors had to be sanded and polished prior to moving in, and secondly that there had to be a workable kitchen.

We were really dealing with the bare basics here! Of course, that list grew to include a new toilet area and fixing those stumps. All other aspects got to wait, including replacing the louvre windows with laminated hopscotch windows, putting in a clean new bathroom and storage for our pantry and clothes.

So this post is about the flooring we chose.

The first night in the house, 3 hours after we got the keys and the title, we grabbed our spade and some gloves and began to tear up the old lino flooring. Underneath the lino was a layer of masonry board tacked to the floorboards, so we pushed the spade under and gently wedged up the old flooring, revealing the 80 year old 150mm wide hoop pine boards underneath. On the verandahs there were two types of timber: rare ash in the north and east wing, and regular hardwood in the western wing. From this:

Flooring

To this:

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To this:

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Flooring underneath

We removed all the old flooring in about 4 hours. Exhausting work, but we had to get the stump guys in the next day, I had to paint some more rooms, and then we had to get the flooring done. There was little time.

We pulled out as many of the tacks as we could find, and then our sanders came in and finished off the job 2 weeks later. They were great. Speedy Floor Sanding: ask for Dave. Barely talked at all but they were quick and got the job done in no time. They did a nice job on staining the new boards to look like the old ones, and even though you can tell they are there, they don’t stand out at all.

We found a hilarious dude called Michael Ryan to do some small construction work, including replacing the rotten floorboards (some borer in about 20 sq metres throughout the house) with new hoop pine. A semi-retired Irishman, I could barely understand him at all and many a story telling regaling friends about our renovation experiences had me saying “shushshsushshushhsh to be sure to be sure”. A good builder with years of experience, his clear preference was to replace all the old stuff with new, including replacing our wonderful old 12-light French doors with new cedar ones. 12 light! I can’t find any French doors that are more than 10-light. I didn’t let him go near anything but the floorboards.

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He replaced the rotten and borer riddled ones with lovely new hoop pine, like this:

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And this:

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This little room had previously been a bathroom and the boards were badly rotten, with even some old termite rot appearing. DH had thought he would tackle the replacement boards himself, but there was too much to be done, including some structural work, so we wisely left it to the experts. I had hoped to replace old with old, but Michael our builder wasn’t fond of working with old wood. Sigh. Anyway, the finished product looked a treat once sanded:

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This is halfway through the sanding process.

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This is the nailing process. Fun.

And these photos show the finished product. The sanders did a really great job, keeping all of the wonderful kinks and marks of 80 years on the floor and giving the floorboards a new lease on life. We chose a satin finish as it looks better, to my mind: less new. It degrades faster than a gloss finish but I like it and will use it again.

Don’t you just love the different timbers? Below is the ash.

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