04 January, 2008

Floor Sanding Options

Today we had a couple of flooring contractors come to the Box House to give us estimates on what it would cost to sand and refinish the floors in both units, as well as the front entry stairwell.

The floors in the main rooms of the top unit (living room, dining room, entryway) were recently "done," but I'm not sure if it was a "professional" or one of the Previous Owner's family members. In any case, he or she didn't bother going under or behind the radiators. The wood there is quite dark, while the rest of the area appears to have only a thin coat of varnish over bare wood. (The stairs are the same way. They have pools of darker stain in the corners, but the rest of the tread is quite light.) The three bedrooms upstairs are covered in ancient carpet.

Living Room of the Top Floor Unit. Sure, it may look good at a quick glance, but what you don't see is how the floor's only protected with a very thin layer of varnish. We also want to get it back to the original color, which is a little darker.

In the downstairs unit, the floors hadn't been sanded at all. Most of the floor downstairs is in decent shape--certainly better than many of the rental units I lived at in my younger days--but there are several boards that will have to be removed and replaced due to previous damage. Boards near a radiator in the bedroom off the kitchen appear to have water damage, and there are holes in the floor of the dining room. There's also a large dark stain we believe to be cat urine, but from what the contractors told us and what I've read on other house blogs, we may be stuck with that unless we replace those boards, too.

Both contractors who stopped by had been recommended by our buyer's agent. J.E. had previously recommended a mortgage broker and a lawyer who we were very pleased with, so we're willing to start with his recommendations here.

The first guy gave us an excellent price, one we can certainly live with, and even said he'd rip out and haul away the gawd-awful carpeting and replace the damaged boards for free. His quote included two layers of varnish; if we wanted more, it would cost more. But even then, it seemed a good price. However, there is a major language barrier and he was only here about 10 minutes or so. I'm not entirely convinced he really saw the full scope of the project, and I'm not entirely sure what we'd be getting. For example, it was difficult to convey that we wanted the floors to be a color complimentary to the rest of the trim.

The second contractor was here for 45 minutes, and she went over every room in detail, discussing which boards should be replaced, measuring everything with her tape measurer, giving us a bit of history of old floors. (The most interesting thing I learned is that they are no longer able to get wood flooring at the same length as was commonly installed 80 years ago. One of the floorboards that needs to be replaced is over 15 feet long; they'll cut only the bad section out at a length that can blend in easily, but leave the rest in place.) She's to send us a full proposal by Monday. My gut tells me it won't be as good as the other, probably nowhere near as good. She's talking about having two crews out here for upwards of two weeks. I'm sure the floors will look spectacular, but will we be able to afford it?

There's always the option of doing it piecemeal, one unit at a time as we can afford it, but right now we have all of our stuff in the basement, and it would be easy to work on the floors. The other option is to do it ourselves. *Shudder*

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