The Great Floor Saga, Part 1

Subtitle: I am exhausted and I’m not even really underway yet.

Those who follow me on Instagram or Twitter have already seen that I discovered oak hardwoods underneath all that gross old carpet in the living room and hallway.

living room

Initially, I was thrilled.  Existing hardwoods!  Money saved! Original character preserved!  It has turned out to be far more of a headache than it was worth.

I had originally budgeted $3,600 total for new, prefinished hardwoods throughout the living room, hallway and three bedrooms.  This was based on an estimated cost of $3.75 per square foot for the wood, over 900 square feet of area, and an extra $200 or so for the rosin paper or roofing paper to lay underneath.  I thought surely I could undercut that number significantly if there was so much wood remaining, plus I could save myself the time and labor of installing the whole mess if I hired the entire job out to a pro.

WRONG.  First, calling around to local top-rated flooring companies revealed that many flooring companies now only install pre-finished – they no longer sand, stain and refinish existing floors.  It’s emblematic of our disposable culture, I suppose.

Finally, I got a pro who still refinishes existing floor to come and look at my house.  Just finding him, scheduling an appointment, and then waiting for him to write up the quote delayed me by about a week, which was frustrating.  His quote:

$7,053.  That’s right, over SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  His quote broke down as follows: $1,000 in labor for subfloor preparation, $3,120 to purchase new, raw oak flooring for the bedrooms and install it, and $2,933 to sand the entire body of hardwood and stain it all to match. And he wouldn’t even be able to start the job for another two weeks.

After I started breathing again, I thanked him politely, assured him I’d call him back, and hung up the phone to start panicking.  Ok, what if I sourced raw oak myself, installed it myself in the bedrooms, and then just hired a pro for sanding and staining?  I know the son of a friend who spent his gap year between college and high school working for an excellent hardwood refinisher.  He just took a weekend job working for Home Depot, and had the experience to do the job more affordably.

The issue there was cost, too.  The best price I could find for raw oak was $3 per square foot through a local hardwood supply company, with limited hours of availability for pickup.  Still, that made the cost of the bedrooms alone $1,600, and the hardwood finishing product my college student was most familiar with cost $160 per gallon, with at least 5 gallons needed to do the whole house. That’s another $800 to the project.  Add $200 at least in tool rental, and that leaves me with only $1000 to pay in labor costs before I hit what I had originally budgeted for pre-finished hardwood.  Plus, there would be the mess and fumes of sanding and staining, the additional time to wait while the finish coat cured….I decided it just wasn’t worth it.

I decided to go with my original preference, Saddle Oak from Floor and Decor.

saddle oak screenshot

At the time I purchased it, the price was $2.49 per square foot, which is a dollar lower than its normal price of $3.49 per square foot.  Floor and Decor doesn’t advertise sales, but their prices do fluctuate, so the best thing to do is bookmark the product you have picked out, and watch it like a hawk for any price drops.

The good thing about this?  The price drop means I can afford to put hardwood in my kitchen as well, and still be cheaper than my original estimate of $3,600 for the hardwood in the living room, hallway and bedrooms and $1,200 for cheap ceramic tile in the kitchen. This way, my purchase of enough hardwood to do all of these areas only came up to about $3,300!  Plus, I’ll get the lovely cohesive look of the same flooring throughout my main living areas:

Floor plan

Like many things in DIY, though, things didn’t turn out QUITE so easily.

Next up, the Great Flooring Saga, Part 2.

 

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