July 11, 2005

A supposedly simple project

Repairing all of my windows is going to be a big project, one that will take some time, though I hope I'll get better at it over time. I'm also trying to do some smaller projects, though I'm finding again and again that projects which seem small often develop complications or extensions.

My parents decided to stay in Corning when they retired, and one of the things they did to update their house was replace a lot of failing appliances and replace the counters in their kitchen. (They'd done a major renovation in 1984, and there was no reason to embark on a larger project.) When I got there to see it, I thought they must have found new vinyl flooring that exactly matched their previous flooring, but no, it was the original flooring.

My father had talked with the contractor about replacing it, and he'd recommended trying to clean it first. My father went to Home Depot and got some Armstrong cleaning products - one called "Once'n Done" and another called "Shinekeeper", which was a polish.

We've known for a long time that our kitchen floor had to go, but tolerated it while waiting to get to a larger-scale kitchen renovation. This cleaning, however, seemed like a great thing to do in the meantime, since it'll likely be years before we get to do the kitchen.

On my way home from seeing my parents, I stopped at Home Depot and tracked down the same stuff. Sitting next to it on the shelf was a different Armstrong product, called "New Beginning." Given that my kitchen floor had resisted previous attempts to clean it, and since it looked like this stuff took off the top layer of polish, perhaps with its ground-in dirt, I got a bottle of that too.

For the next couple of weeks, the bottles sat in the kitchen, since emptying the kitchen to clean the floor was a minor project of its own. Finally, on the 4th of July, I got around to emptying the room and exposing the floor. Some of the mess was from carpets we'd put in as extended doormats, but some of it was just the floor itself, dirt that had been there since before we moved in, stubbornly refusing to move even when mopped.

Floor dirt
Ground-in dirt on a vinyl floor.

I'd bought a scrubbing brush, and poured the "New Beginning" stuff on a corner of the floor and started scrubbing. Dirt came off rapidly, and the surface after rinsing looked good, if not, well, polished.

Scrubbing dirt
Scrubbing away dirt.

After scrubbing the floor by hand with this, mopping up all the dirt it freed, and then applying the Shinekeeper polish (maybe four hours total), I had a bright and shiny floor, which Sprocket quickly took advantage of:

Sprocket enjoying the newly clean floor
Sprocket enjoying the newly clean floor.

The floor doesn't look quite as perfect as my parents' floor, but I think it's a few decades older, and I'm amazed by the change. Of course, in moving things around to clean, I found two leaks that had probably been there a while, and have both a plumber and appliance repair on their way.

The other big problem was the entryway by the back door. I'd originally planned to clean it like I did the kitchen, but it turned out that the vinyl there was little pieces with a carpet tacked down in the middle. After ripping that out, I found that part of the wooden subfloor near the door was rotten, though not all the way through, and so a simple cleaning turned into a floor reconstruction project.

So, I pulled out some wood hardener and wood filler, and went to work, hacking out the rotten wood and hardening the remaining wood before filling it. (Bondo actually sells a kit with the stuff you need, but I already had the Minwax stuff around.) Then I got to apply a lot of filler, add a wooden piece to the threshold, paint some new molding, install some industrial carpet with a rubber base, and finally put it all together.

New entryway area floor
New entryway area floor.

Of course I spilled wood hardener on the door threshold, so I got to repaint all of it, with oil paint that required watching as it dried to keep the dogs from walking through it. And as long as I was repainting it, I took the door off the hinges and planed its edges so it will close better. In the end though, it's all vastly nicer than it was. A lot more work than expected, but that's the way it always seems to go.

Oh, and of course now I'll need to clean and/or repaint the kitchen and entryway so the rest looks as good as the floors!

If you'd like to see more, I've posted a gallery of photos.

Posted by simon at July 11, 2005 7:09 PM in
Note on photos


Bonnie said:

I will have to go to Home Depot and try some of that on my kitchen floor. I did discover something today though. After months of trying to get ground in dirt outta my Light beige/white kitchen floor, I uses Brite floor wax on it after I cleaned it. I accidently left a puddle of it and when I mopped it that stubborn dirt came out. Of course I had to mop hard on the rest of the floor but its working! I had even sat on the floor and scrubbed with Clorox in the past and it wouldnt come out. You can buy Brite floor wax at Walmart and sometimes in the supermarket for like 4.00 a bottle. I love it!