Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Decision Was Made For Me

So, today was the big day when I was planning to sand and finish the floor in the butler’s pantry. The question was, how to go about doing it. The finished area of the floor will be about 8X8 once the cabinets are built in the opening between the dining room and the butler’s pantry. Its not big.

On top of that, it is mostly bare wood. This room originally had linoleum in it. Then, in 1972 it had particle-board underlayment put down with these hideous 12X12 inch fake wood plastic tiles on top of that. In the late 1990s the previous owners put ugly green carpet on top of the fake wood tiles. It was like a seven layer dip of ugliness.

Sometime between when the linoleum came up and underlayment went down some pea-brained moron painted the room with a paint sprayer and over-sprayed on to unfinished wood floor. This same dingus sprayed many rooms and over-sprayed on toilets, tubs, windows, and just about anything else that got in the path of the sprayer. The over-spray went 8 to 10 inches out from the wall on two walls.

Other than the over-spray the floor was basically bare wood. I could use a rented drum sander and that would make quick work of most of it, and then rent the edge sander to finish the edges. That seems over-kill for such a small space, though. I could probably do the whole thing with just the edge sander, but I’ve been-there, done-that, and I did not want to do it again.

No, my mind was made up and I would rent the drum sander. There was just one little problem. One of my tenants is gone for the weekend and she left her car parked in front of the garage where my truck is stored. I can’t really fit a drum sander in the back of the GTI, so no truck means no drum sander.

Because I’m desperate to keep the project moving forward I decided to do the floor with a belt sander and a random orbital sander. The only problem with that plan is that my belt sander is a serious POS. I know I complain about my crappy tools from time to time, but this time it is seriously warranted.

This belt sander is one of my few power tools that predate me owning the Petch House. I bought it when I went to paint my last house. Eight years ago I used it for about an hour and that was the last time I’ve touched until today. It only took an hour to realize how bad it was. I now ask myself why I didn’t return it immediately.

The carriage is so flimsy that when you put any weight on the sander the rollers torque enough that the belt slides off. Think of a conveyor belt. If the two rollers at either end are not parallel to each other the belt won’t stay on. There is an adjustment screw on it to adjust the rollers. What I had to do was adjust it so the belt slid all the way to the inside as soon as you turn it on so that you can then put some weight on it and bring it back to the middle. Too much weight and the belt ends up next to the sander. It was a joke.

Despite this, I used it for about an hour today before giving up and going to buy a new belt sander. The new one is a Makita and has the added benefit of a dust collection bag that works surprisingly well. I spent another hour on the floor with the new sander. I was able to get more done in that one hour with the new one than I did in 2 hours with the old one and the random orbitla sander.

Its not nearly enough, though. I got a late start and I had to take care of some other business. I think what I’ll do now is sand it and oil it before next weekend. I’ll then cover it with cardboard and finish the tin ceiling. After that, I’ll put some type of top coat on it.

There is some discoloration on the left that may come out with more sanding. And there are also still many of the tacks from the linoleum in the white strip on the far right near the wall. The two splotches in the middle are from some petroleum based adhesive or something. They gummed up the sand paper and let off a familiar smell when I went over them. I’m not sure what it is but I’m not too concerned with it. Most of this floor will be covered with a rug. That is the plan for most of the floors in the house.

If I could get real linoleum I would do that in a heart beat. You can get linoleum, but its not the same as the old stuff with the nice patterns. The new stuff is head and shoulders above vinyl flooring, but its just not the same as the old stuff with lots of colorful patterns. Sure its linoleum, but that like saying Budweiser is beer. It may be a fermented grain beverage but that doesn’t necessarily make it real beer.


Jayne said...

"...a seven-layer dip of ugliness..." Hilarious!

Kathy from NJ said...

I think at one time you had a sketch of the downstairs floor plan. Would you be willing to post it again? There are 3 doors in the butler's pantry, one to the kitchen (?), one to the laundry (?), and one to the dining room? Have you gotten the butler's bedroom ready yet?

Greg said...




I think that can be arranged. Until then, the door on the left goes to the side yard. On the right to the kitchen, and the last one to the laundry room.

Kathy from NJ said...

I found it (the floor plan)! I am really looking forward to the next three weeks, can't wait to see the cabinet you're going to build for between the butler's pantry & dining room. Have you advertised for a butler yet?

Greg said...


Don't hold your breath. I would say the cabinets are a 3 month project that I won't start for 3 weeks. Maybe I'll finish them by Thanksgiving.

Katherine said...

Why are you tolerant of the doors not matching (in design)?

Everything looks great.

Greg said...


You just had to mention that, didn't you. I can barely stand it, much less tolerate it. The sad fact is, I must tolerate it because I don't have anything else.

I have other doors that match the rest of the house, but they are reserved to other areas. I figured if there was one place that had to have them, it would be here.

If its any consolation, the hinges on the doors match the period of the doors. The 1920s door has 1920s hinges. The 1880s door has 1880s hinges. And the 1895 door has 1895 hinges. That's gotta count for something.