So my hardwood saga continues with prepping for the onslaught of dust. One of the many things they don’t tell you when they give you the pitch for refinishing your hardwood floors is that the “dustless sanding system” is a bit of a misnomer. Last week, in advance of the beginning of our project, we received a list of do’s and don’ts from our refinishing company. It was in this e-mail that we were given the unpleasant news that we could expect sanding dust to go everywhere and cover everything. Apparently, without constant vigilance, we might be getting extra fiber in our Cheerios, as sawdust has been known to make its way into sealed food boxes inside a closed pantry. While it can’t be denied that some healthy breakfast cereals do taste a bit like sawdust, I am not anxious to ingest wood particles in my food. To prevent this revolting development, I spent the last two days covering my pantry, closets, cupboards, and bookcases with plastic sheeting. Whether this effort actually makes a difference in combatting this dreaded plague of sawdust, only time will tell.
Our original plan was to replace all the upstairs carpeting with new hardwood flooring, but we were totally gob-smacked by the price. So, moving immediately on to plan B, I decided to consult with our real estate agent about the cost benefit of putting in hardwood throughout the house as it pertains to resale. She advised us to place hardwood on the stairs, the hallway, and the master bedroom.
Her perspective was that wood flooring is considered to be a premium material and buyers appreciate an upgraded master. She felt that it would be more cost effective to carpet the other bedrooms, the bonus room (our would-be media room) and the closets. Since putting down reasonably good quality carpeting in those spaces significantly reduced the cost of the project, we decided to follow our agent’s excellent advice.
Of course, choosing carpet comes with its own set of questions and concerns. I spent a lot of time on the internet and in carpet showrooms researching the best carpet for our needs. I wanted something durable, stain-resistant and, soft underfoot. It was important to me that the style of carpeting be modern and yet timeless. A neutral color was also on my wish list as it was going in several rooms with different color schemes.
After a ridiculous amount of second-guessing and agonizing, I finally chose a carpet. I decided to go with Mohawk Smartstrand Silk because it was the softest carpet I found. Made from Dupont Sorona fibers, this carpet is also said to be the most stain-resistant product on the market which was critical, given our filtration soil issues.
The style I chose has a subtle small-scale pattern which I feel will work well in all three rooms, as well as the closets. I will tell you the name of the style I chose which is Relaxed Approach (sounds like the name of a laxative) and the color is Quiet Neutral. However, I discovered that carpet sales operate much like a shell game, in that each vendor has their own style and color names for the same manufacturer’s products. This, of course, makes it tough to compare prices and products from one dealer to another. This “sleight of hand” is silly, aggravating, and in no way going to keep determined homeowners from comparison shopping. .Why do companies persist with this nonsense?
As for stain color, I knew I wanted a neutral medium brown. I am totally enamored with the look of the super dark or espresso floors, but I have been warned that dark flooring tends to show dust, and as we all know, dust is the enemy. I also worry that, just like the natural oak floors we have now, the dark stained floors will feel dated in a few years.
Our installer didn’t want us to choose a stain until we could see the stain on the actual floor. So we entered the dust bowl, formerly known as our house, to view four different stain samples on our newly sanded hardwood. The stain samples ranged from the lightest to darkest all in medium neutral brown tones: Early American, Provincial, Medium Brown and Dark Walnut.
Because Early American was so light, I felt that the warmth from our Red Oak hardwood really came through and gave it too much of a reddish hue. The Dark Walnut felt too dark, so we narrowed it down to the Provincial and the Medium Brown. And like Baby Bear, we decided that Provincial was just right because it provided the richness I was looking for without obscuring the grain in the wood.
Once the floor is stained, they will apply three coats of a water-based satin clear coat. We’ve been told that this sealant will be durable, have low odor, and will not yellow over time like oil-based polyurethane. This is my rationale for the choice we made, but I have no earthly idea if it was the best option or how it will look once it’s all over our house. Tune in next time for the finished project and the final episode of this “gripping” saga of hardship and hardwood.