Flooring Debate

So I have about a billion projects I need to go back and write up, including a post that is about 85% finished about the work we are doing upstairs to prepare for bringing home our baby in T-minus 6 weeks (gah!), but I decided to take a minute to lay out some thoughts on the current debate we are having regarding what to do about our flooring.  We have hardwood throughout the downstairs and upstairs (except for the kitchen and bathrooms).  In the midst of some structural work we did last spring that required jacking up the ceiling in the living room, two boards in the middle of the bedroom above separated/split a bit.  That, coupled with some legacy water damage from before we lived here, other normal wear & tear that you would expect from original flooring from 1948, and the fact that we aren’t in love with the color/finish made us add refinishing & fixing the flooring in the bedrooms & hallway upstairs to the list of must-dos prior to baby arriving.


Gap/damage from structural work below


Legacy water damage

Fast forward to now, where we are weeks away from bringing home our little one.  We decided that sanding, staining and applying poly would be best left to the professionals so we had a few contractors in for quotes for a two-phase job, starting with the upstairs and staircase and then coming back to do the downstairs at a later date (perhaps sometime this spring or summer).  Two of four never actually provided us pricing (I guess business is booming?! Either that or people are just extremely unprofessional).  One of the two quotes we did receive was from a well-established & professional local company, was significantly higher than the other (almost double).  The rep that came to give the quote actually said that he wanted to get his foreman to the house to take a look because he wasn’t sure about the shape of the floors- specifically whether there was sufficient space left above the side fastening features (not really traditional tongue-in-groove) to really be able to sand and refinish, without having to replace a significant amount/have a lot of gaps and issues.  The other estimate came in, and the guy seemed reputable but I always get nervous going with a lower estimate and ending up paying for it down the line if issues arise.  My worries were, of course, heightened by the fact that he didn’t mention any of the concerns the other person brought up.  We already have anxiety about hiring people to come in to do work vs. rolling up our own (Mike’s) sleeves, so it wasn’t making our decision any easier.

I was talking to a few coworkers about the whole ordeal, and one woman I work with suggested that if the floors weren’t historical/I wasn’t attached to them, it might make sense to replace them instead of refinishing them.  I thought about it for a bit and realized it might make sense- especially since that is something Mike could do himself.  He had already helped friends of ours lay hardwood in their townhome when they were getting ready to sell, so diverting the full refinishing budget of labor & materials to buying new, high-quality flooring might actual give us a better bang for our buck (factoring in yet more sweat equity on the part of my dear, dear husband).

I was nervous about broaching the topic with him since he is still putting the finishing touches on several other massive projects he has worked in the past 7 months or so, but I should have known not to be.  Leave it to Mike to start getting antsy after a month or so away from a lumber supply or wholesale showroom.   He immediately spent an entire day researching and dragged me to a flooring showroom that night (Tuesday), to take a look at hickory samples (the material he decided would be the right balance of quality within our budget).

We got quotes from the showroom and from a few online suppliers, and Mike was bugging me to go look at more samples and make a decision so he could order and get to work.  It was now Wednesday.  I woke up with a nasty head cold, my parents were arriving that afternoon, I had to get my Christmas baking done.  Also, I was (and still am)~8 months prego.  I asked for a reprieve to get through Christmas before we had to make any decisions.  Mike begrudgingly relented (although it didn’t stop him from a few more trips to look at samples on his own).

After a few extra days to think about it and plan, we still haven’t come to a decision.  The major complicating factor that has arisen is the fact that floors in the other bedroom upstairs appear to be basically new.  They are 2.25″ oak, like the rest of the house, but they are in noticeably better shape.


Transition from old to new flooring in the bedroom- and a puppy head for good measure

I don’t think it would be wise to completely waste perfectly good floors, but it’s also very important that there be continuity throughout the house, so I suggested we install oak floors and then sand & refinish the room above at some point to match.  Mike doesn’t want to spend all the time, effort and money and not change/upgrade the look at all, which I understand.  However, I think for resale (and our sanity), it would make sense to have more continuity throughout.  I’ve even started wavering back to the repair & refinish route, instead of replacing.  I’ve spent a lot of time googling and haven’t had much luck, but based on the few forum topics I’ve stumbled upon, it seems most people tend to agree with me.

So here is where we are at with our options:

  1.  Repair & refinish (~3500-6000, depending on contractor)
  2. Replace everything except the bedroom where the floors appear to be basically new & have one room mismatched (~5000 + Mike’s time & effort, not including the stairs)
  3. Replace everything and have continuity throughout (~6000 + Mike’s time & effort, not including the stairs)
  4. Replace everything except the good bedroom with Oak & have continuity throughout (haven’t gotten any quotes yet but likely would be on the order of #2, possibly slightly less expensive)
  5. Abandon ship, get big area rugs, and spend our time getting everything set up for baby’s impending arrival.  (floors will likely never get done until we up and move out of this house)

At this point, to channel my inner basic b*tch, I literally can’t even.  This homeownership stuff can be a real drag sometimes.   The Systems Engineer in me can do a quick decision matrix in my head and tell you that option #4 is likely the most sensible one to go with, but the wife in me can do similar calculations and conclude that there is no way I’m getting my husband on board with that one.

So, in conclusion, from Love & Elbow Grease –  HELP!!!


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