Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To Re-finish or Not to Re-finish: What to Do With Your 40 Year Old Wood Floors

Our kitchen now, after refinishing the floors!
Our wood floors have been bugging us for a while now. They're old floors, which we knew when we bought our home 4 years ago, but they were in decent shape at the time so not a lot of thought was given to least until after several years of our ball-loving Sheepadoodle Irie leaving her "mark" (literally") all over our kitchen floor...Irie's favorite thing in the whole world is playing ball, and who are we to deprive her of that God-given joy? But over the past few years of ball throwing, followed by dog running and sliding and skidding all over the floors, we could no longer ignore or overlook....this:

Long story short, Colette and I discussed and researched every possible solution from the simplest DIY options to complete professional floor replacement. There's almost too much information available online on this topic, and at the end of the day it can easily all leave you flat-out confused and unsure about what will and won't work in your situation.

Should you do a complete sanding down to bare wood, and re-stain and re-finish? Will chemical etching and refinishing work? Will buffing/screening and refinishing do the trick? Or are your floors too bad for all of those and you need to either live with them as-is or completely replace them? And how do you know?

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure what the absolute best option was for our floors, but after picking one and then diving in and doing it, I feel like we made the right choice. Wheww....
The biggest obstacle was trying to pick a solution that would make a notable impact for dog-scratched (and just plain old/worn) floors. Most of what we read made it seem like complete sanding or replacing were the only viable options. But at long last we decided to give screening and refinishing a try and we are very happy with the results!

So what is "screening" (or buffing as it's sometimes called)? Basically it's just a form of sanding that doesn't go all the way down to bare wood like a belt sander does. To screen a floor you rent a floor buffer and load sanding "screens" (basically just a special kind of sandpaper disk) onto the buffer and start sanding. (Note: We used 100 grit sanding screens and that seemed to work well.)

The idea is to sand off as much of the polyurethane finish as needed to make a notable improvement in the consistency and texture of the floor. This technique will remove most surface/superficial scratches (not down to or into the wood) and many other imperfections that don't go too deep. Screening won't do anything for dents in the wood or scratches that penetrate past the finish into the wood. So in other words, if you're looking to make a 40 year old floor look brand new, you probably need to just replace the floor - or at a minimum do a ginormous super sanding project that likely will leave you wishing you had replaced the floor.

So onto our project. We started with the kitchen floors. First we removed all the furniture and then covered everything with sheet plastic (large box from Home Depot). Then we did a thorough vacuum and mop of the floor.

Next I rented a floor buffer at Home Depot and went to town. Warning up front: a floor buffer is a hard machine to operate - but after a little trial and error and learning to control the machine by brute force it's pretty easy to use. Took me about 20 minutes and a couple YouTube videos to figure out how to keep the machine from racing all by itself across the floor every time I turned it on.

I went through 4 100-grit sanding disks on this floor. Probably could have gone through 6, but after a couple hours of sanding the whole floor (and sanding the really bad spots again and again and again and again) Colette and I looked at the floor and decided enough was enough. (Note: we also used a pole sander and 100 grit screens to sand the edges all the way around the room).

Next step was to do tear down all the plastic. Then came a thorough vacuum of the floor, after which we mopped it and vacuumed some more and then mopped and vacuumed some more. There was a decent amount of dust, but it wasn't horrible and was nothing like what we would have had if we'd done a complete sanding of the floor.

After the floor was completely clean and dry it was time to put on the polyurethane. (Note at this point we could already tell the floors were in a lot better condition.) We used Varathane quick dry polyurethane in semi-gloss.

We chose Varathane mainly because we've used their products before and found them easy to apply and quick-drying which is a huge plus. And Colette, being the truly beautiful artist she is, as well as our undisputed resident expert on all things color/aesthetic, quickly determined that full gloss would leave a super pretty shine but would also magnify every imperfection (the last thing we needed), so we decided that semi-gloss was the way to go.

It took 3 coats of the polyurethane to do the job. The 2nd coat goes down a couple hours after the first, then you wait a day and apply the third coat.

To apply I used a special synthetic mop head designed for water based finishes from Home Depot which attaches to a painter's pole. You basically start in the farthest closed-in corner of the room and "paint" your way section by section all the way into the opposite corner until the whole room is coated. It takes a little practice to get the hang of the mop and polyurethane to make sure you're applying it evenly and not blotchily, but once you get the hang of it it goes quickly. Make sure you don't apply too thick of coats though (we learned that lesson the hard way here).

So after about 2 days worth of work, here is our new kitchen floor which we couldn't be happier with!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Update for last years Backyard Shed Makeover

It's warm, the suns out & we're ready to enjoy our pool area. Last year Dave did a blog
on remodeling our shed.

I am updating with a few pictures now that the wisteria is in full bloom.
We added a fish from Pier One, hooks I got at Marshall's & solar lights from Target.

Loving how it turned out & very excited to make some fun memories in this area!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Chilling with Steak Tips, Cauliflower, and Chocolate Cake

My beautiful wife Colette is so remarkable in so many ways. I am a blessed and infinitely thankful man! Colette invests so much of her time and herself every day into taking care of our large, busy family and keeping everything organized and running efficiently. She amazes me with the truly remarkable job she does, and how she does all she does with such excellence! But last night it was it was time for the tables to turn as I cooked dinner for Colette while she spent the evening relaxing and enjoying a very well deserved break!

When I venture too far outside my culinary comfort zone of pizza and grilling, things can get a bit risky. But to accompany the main course of steak tips, I took on the extreme challenge of making a side dish of cauliflower gratin with goat cheese topping and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. If I'm being honest, I would have preferred just grilling the cauliflower and cake, but all in all I think everything turned out OK, so I thought I'd share here for anyone else who may want to take a similar stab!

First, I baked the cake. Thankfully I got some expert help from my extremely capable sugar-toothed assistant, Miss Chloƫ! We worked together and made the following cake.

Basically just followed this recipe as written. It's pretty straightforward. The only notes I'd add is that we didn't bother with the parchment paper, and also the cake took 5-10 minutes longer than listed to cook for some reason. Otherwise, things went pretty smoothly.

We made the cake, let it cool a bit in the pans then let it cool some more out of the pans on a wire rack. Then we made the whipped topping frosting with this recipe. We let the frosting chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and then I let Chloƫ work her magic frosting the cake!

Next, I tackled the cauliflower dish, using this recipe. Once again, pretty much just followed the recipe, although I'll admit it took me a while to figure out exactly what the heck "florets" and "steaming baskets" are...

A warning note about cauliflower in general. It's like scallops--tastes great, but smells absolutely horrible while cooking. So don't be alarmed. Couple other notes on this recipe. I used fresh thyme and just chopped it on a cutting board. Also, I used a blender instead of a "food processor." Once again, I found that this dish took a little longer than listed to cook (i.e., to get lightly browned on top). And finally, we skipped the bread crumbs.

After the cake was made and frosted, I put it in the fridge until we ate it. I prepared the cauliflower dish so it was just ready to stick in the oven, then turned my attention to the steak tips. As far as how I prepared the steak tips, I used the following homemade rub I came up with a while back for smoking meats. (Amounts are not measured, just throw it all together.)

       1-2 cups of stevia
       Hefty amount of chili powder
       Hefty amount of onion powder
       Garlic powder (little bit less)
       Ground cinnamon (little bit less)
       Paprika (think I put small amount in)
       Pink Himalayan salt (smaller amount but generous)

Mix in bowl and then rub steak with lemon juice and rub dry rub on both sides and let it marinate for at least 5 hours.

I applied the rub to both sides of the steak tips and left in a pan to marinate overnight (about 24 hours total).

I put the steak tips on the grill and then after about 5 minutes or so I put the cauliflower into the oven.

In hindsight, I could have started the steak tips and caulifower at the same time and the timing would have been perfect. But the timing still worked out pretty good and I think all in all things turned out pretty good.

I had a really fun time making dinner for you, Colette! :D

Until next time,


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cherry Chocolate Kisses & Dishpan Cookies

We had fun baking up 2 Valentine's cookies the other day. Both were delicious!
Cherry Chocolate Kisses are from a recipe in the book, The Ultimate Cookie Book.
They are a bit like a shortbread, soft & buttery with great almond flavor. Dishpan Cookies, (recipe on my moms card below) remind me of a chewy oatmeal cookie & they are so, so good! I left out the nuts & raisins & put a thing of Wilson's Valentines sprinkles & a cup of chocolate chips in.  It was was hard to eat just one of both of these... the struggle is real, right?