Navigate / search

We’re Already In Trouble. And Why Beer Is The #1 Tool In Salvaging Hardwoods.

What follows is a motley assortment of fuzzy iPhone photos from our first few days in the new (old) house. Most of the time it was too dark or I was too tired/lazy to pull out the real camera, but fortunately for you, Mr. Jobs has seen to it that I can capture badly-lit snippets of our day-to-day activities anyway.


If you’ve been around for a while now, you’ll know that Justin and I have a really hard time following through with things. We usually finish, eventually, but we have a bad habit of starting several projects at once, stalling for a few weeks or years, and then finally coming full circle.

And apparently, moving to Virginia hasn’t changed us.

We arrived at the house on Friday and spent a lazy late afternoon just trying to get to know the place. You know, walking around, telling it a little bit about ourselves, apologizing for the damage our rambunctious mutts would doubtless one day incur, and imagining what we wanted to do to make it feel like home. We wanted to ease its worries, you know — make sure it knew it was in good — or at least well-intentioned — hands.

But by Saturday morning, we were done with the small talk. It was time to take action.

It started out innocently enough — I woke up and took a nice, steamy shower. As I opened the curtain and wrapped myself in a towel, I noticed just how peely that pink floral wallpaper was looking. What if I thought, tugging at a small corner. It came off in one long, cathartic sheet. Like magic. (And vastly different from our bathroom wallpaper experience in the last house.)


Ten minutes later, still wrapped in my towel, hair drying frizzily in my frenetic attempt to remove all pink, green, and blue wallpaper from my immediate vicinity, I had a nice little pile.


The backing was (and is) still on the walls, but it was a satisfying start.

Sated for the time being, I left the bedroom to find this:


Apparently I wasn’t the only one with a frenzied sense of let’s-get-something-done-before-all-of-our-stuff-gets-here.

We’d removed carpeting once before in the last house when we were installing the laminate, though this time it was a bit more intense, since we knew we were trying to salvage the flooring beneath. It’s a pretty straightforward process, if you can get over the butt-clenching waves of nausea that sometimes occur when you watch someone take a knife to your carpet and are forced to wait excruciating minutes to see if this particular exposure of your home’s underbelly is going to cost significantly more than you’d anticipated.


We were off to a less-than-encouraging start when he peeled back the grody padding to unleash the stench and stains of (what I can only hope is) animal urine in the dining area.

Fortunately, aside from the goo from the apparently rotting pad that insisted on sticking to the wood, the rest of the floor was in pretty great shape.

photo 5_web

We spent the day searching out post-black Friday appliance deals for the kitchen, and then the evening with me pulling out staples with a flat head screwdriver and pair of needle nose pliers, while Justin pried up tack strips (those naily pieces around the edges of the room that held down the carpet) and tried to scrub the padding residue with a floor cleaner called Bona.

There were quite a few staples:


The task required minimal tools: A flathead, pliers, a mop, and lots and lots of beer.


It’s important to give you these fuzzy closeup shots so you can see that this is actually disgusting. Sometimes HGTV doesn’t show you the real grossness of a situation, so let’s get our noses right down in it, shall we?


Can you smell the pee?


No, Justin isn’t doing the moonwalk. He’s foot scrubbing the goo.

And yes, I could go on and on wondering why anyone would slaughter these gorgeous hardwoods with hundreds of staples and mint green carpet, but then I realize that several decades from now, someone else might be going on and on about why those annoying granite countertops used to be so popular and why the dumpsters are full of those plastic deer heads with sparkly antlers. We roll with the times, you know?


Gross as the padding residue was, I was glad to be rid of whatever germies were undoubtedly encrusted inside of it. At the end of the night, this is what we were left with:


Unfortunately, the Bona wasn’t super effective in removing all of the residue. The sanding process should take care of it when we finish refinishing the floors, but of course now our furniture is here, which might help us procrastinate a good long while. Which begs the question: Should we finish them ourselves, or hire a professional?

If it all  looked like the flooring from the fireplace to the entryway, it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d do it ourselves. But those pet stains have me worried, so let’s take a poll:

So. That’s where we’ve been sitting. That, and this:


Which is like, really not as bad as it looks. I just have to gather everything in one place before I can figure out where it goes, you know?


This one totally understands.

About these ads


Thank you for reading Domestiphobia! Knowing you stopped by totally makes my day. If you'd rather just have my posts delivered right to your inbox, just subscribe here. It's free, guys, and super easy. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and if you want to connect!



Been there, still doing it – meaning unpacking boxes and trying to figure where everything goes. I think that you and Justin have a fantastic looking house. And, who would have guessed that beautiful hardwood floors were under all that carpet! I give you credit for tackling this so quickly. Keep going, it’s going to look great!


We’ll try not to lose too much steam! Or maybe we’ll just start five more simultaneous projects. Who’s down for a kitchen reno?! :)


Are you SURE Justin wasn’t doing the moonwalk?


Come to think of it, there *was* beer involved. So it’s quite possible. :)


I meant to post before when you first showed pics of your new home but Congrats on your new place – I can’t wait to see all the things you do with it :-) Looks like you all were super busy!! Hope you have a great upcoming weekend in your new place :-)


Thanks, Rachel! It’s definitely going to be busy around here until this place feels more like “us.” I hope you have a great weekend, too! :)


The place looks better already! With a little cleaning and polishing, you might not have to refinish for a long time!!


Thanks, Judy! I’m telling you, there is NOT enough elbow grease in the world to get that goo off the floors. At this point, I’m ready to sand them just to be rid of it! :)

Mary Schillinger

We refinished on hardwood floor and said never again. The hardest part is controlling the floor sander so you don’t end up with an uneven floor.


Yeah… that kind of sounds like a nightmare. And likely I’d be hovering over Justin’s shoulder, telling him he’s not doing it right. NOT good for our marriage. :)


I say: kitchen renovation STAT! Why put off the inevitable and double or triple the work of organizing and putting all your many boxes of stuff away into cabinets that you know you’re going to change, then removing it all again and boxing it up for the renovation and then re-putting it all away once more?? I would just seal up those boxes and leave all your kitchen dishes neatly and safely packed , put them into a spare room or the garage and buy yourself a big stack of paper plates and cups and proceed to investigate the carry out establishments in your new town. You will for sure renovate the whole kitchen because you’re then really sick and tired of living off paper plates like teenagers … and when you open up the boxes and put all your stuff away for the very first time in your newly renovated kitchen it will now feel like it’s all brand new! So that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Happy new house and new adventures.


Oh don’t you worry – I’m mentally working on the kitchen as well. ;) Unfortunately, a full renovation is not in the cards this time around, so we’re going to have to get creative when it comes to using our existing cabinetry/layout. So while a project that big takes a lot of planning, you’re right – we definitely want to tackle it sooner rather than later so we can actually enjoy it! In fact, some appliances have already been ordered. I did cave and put away the kitchen stuff, though… we’ve been living on takeout for over a week and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Plus, since we’re working with existing cabinetry, I wanted to see how everything fits. Still, though – good theory. WISH it could be brand new! :)


Paint & new cabinet doors can update that kitchen in no time! And a new countertop-even a new laminate would make a huge difference.


New counters are definitely a GO. Probably a backsplash, too. We might try to work with the existing doors, but possibly update the pulls. My biggest indecision right now lies with the soffit. If we rip it out and raise the cabinets (maybe adding a shelf underneath), I’m not sure what to do about the two tall pantries since we can’t raise those. Or should we try to paint/disguise the soffit with molding? Decisions, decisions. :)


Kristi at just refinished her floors (same situation as you, except her carpet was even greener) and she did a step by step that made it sound pretty easy.


Thanks for the link! I haven’t found the step-by-step yet, but I found one post where she talks about it and says it’s the most difficult and time consuming project she’s tackled. But she also talks about the cost savings from having it professionally done, so I’ll check out her instructions and get some pro estimates and see how much we think our time — and our sanity — is worth. :)


Your time and sanity is worth a lot. But then, you seem to like DIY. I’m not of that breed.


I don’t like the actual DIY part of DIY projects. What I like is the money we save and the good feeling that comes when we do a project (correctly) ourselves. So every time something comes up, we have to weigh the pros/cons and all of the costs (like you said, time and sanity – not just moolah!) before we decide how to handle it. The fact that I’m incredibly indecisive doesn’t help. :)

Colleen Brynn

I actually laughed out loud at the moonwalking photo! HAHAHA!
And I gotta say, I love the image of you straight out of the shower, ripping wall paper down. That is something I would TOTALLY do.


It’s like I had a FEVER and I couldn’t look at it one. More. Day. :)

Don't be shy... tell me what you think!