So what did we do with that money? I guess we could have applied it to the first mortgage payment, but that didn't sound fun. After a short pow-wow session, we decided that the best use of the bonus funds would be to put it toward sanding and refinishing the floors.
Some of the rooms had carpeting, others were in desperate need of repair. Between the two units, there is 2100 square feet or so of floor space--and we wanted to sand and refinish the entry stairwell as well. After reading other house blogs I knew that we were probably capable of doing the task ourselves, but it would no doubt take us a really long time to get all of that done--and it wouldn't be anywhere near as good as what a professional could do for us. It was an easy decision, really.
All of our furniture and possessions are in the basement of The Box House, so this is the best possible time to work on the floors. In addition to being in desperate need of a good sanding, there were several damaged areas of flooring as well. The company we chose brought in wood to match what we already had. While the pieces are as thick as the 80-year-old floors in place, the planks are much, much shorter. We were told by each of the floor companies we interviewed that the wood you get nowadays is not of the same quality available to previous generations. You can't easily get 15-foot planks. The contractors brought in a pile of short replacement boards, but promised us they would blend in well.
The following sets of pictures show the floors as we first saw them, and what they looked like after being sanded and repaired.
Floor one, middle bedroom. There were several damaged boards near the wall, the longest of which was 15 feet.
Here is the same patch of floor repaired and sanded. The contractors left as much of the original boards as possible, removing only the damaged bits. If I didn't know better, I would not have guessed this was the same floor.
This is a close up of floor one's dining room. It looks like an attempt was made to replace previously damaged floor boards, but the repairs were not stained to match and are themselves quite old. I am not sure when these repairs would have been made.
The same section of dining room showing the repairs. Again, I think they blend in really well, even with the shorter boards.
We knew that we wanted a stain that would look traditional and yet would show the amazing grain of old-growth forest wood. We asked for something in the "medium" range that would compliment the baseboards and other trim. What we settled on was Special Walnut, made by Minwax. It's the bottom sample in the image below. It has a touch of red to it, and really makes the woodgrain jump out at you.
The contractors will be at The Box House for another few days as they continue to sand and repair the floorboards. It will be a week or more before the final coats of poly are applied and have had time to cure--and only then we can think about bringing our furniture upstairs.
I can't believe how much better the floors look already; the final results should be nothing short of miraculous. All I can say is "Thanks, Joel!" I'm not sure we would have done the floors like this without the rebate.