Woodn't You Know It?

Just when we thought we were nearing the end of the process and all that was left were small decisions, LC calls with a giant hiccup. The upstairs floors can’t be saved after all.

The issue is the flooring is tongue-in-groove and 1/2 inch thick. (Most wood flooring is 3/4 inch thick.) By sanding it, the spaces between the planks will get bigger and splinter, and the parts where the wood is really worn apparently won’t hold up.
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Unfortunately this affects the uniquely shaped landing. It will need to be replaced and our choice is to either replicate it (doable but not so easy to do) or put in a shorter square landing.
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It will also affect the stairs. The top step will be a bigger drop since the floor will be an extra 1/4 inch higher. But we think we can live with that vs. replacing the stairs and railings.
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On the Plus Side (yes, luckily we can find some positives in this)
1. Ripping up the upstairs floor gives us a chance to check the sub-flooring and ensure it’s sufficient
2. The room next to the bathroom (guest room #2) has a sloping floor. Hopefully we’ll be able to level it out a bit
3. If we choose to go with a shorter landing in the foyer, it will open up the space a bit
4. When it’s done, the floors throughout the entire house are gonna look pretty darn sweet

Finalizing The Floor Plan

In our efforts to stay a step ahead, it’s time to lock in our decisions regarding the wood floors.

The downstairs will be getting new wood flooring. We’ve decided on oak, but then had to decide between red oak and white oak. We have red oak in our apartment and one thing we’ve noticed is the grooves in red oak can get a bit crazy which we don’t particularly love. Still, I wanted to know more about the differences before making our final decision. So here goes...


1. Apparently, you can see the difference in the ray length in the flat sawn part of the wood. The rays in red oak are short, usually no more than 1/2” long. The rays in white oak are usually 1” or longer.
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2. Here’s a neat explanation of another difference from someone online: An old timer he knew picked up a piece of red oak in one hand and held a cigar in the other. He blew smoke into one end of the wood and the smoke came out the other end. “Red oak,” he said. He did the same with a piece of white oak and no smoke came out. “In white oak the pores are blocked. That’s why they use white oak for boats.”

3. Because white oak is resistant to moisture, it’s also widely used for outdoor furniture.

4. Red oak is used for purposes quite different from white oak, including fence posts, railroad ties, crates and caskets.

5. Because the grains in red oak are open, it’s more prone to shrinking.

6. As far as flooring goes, red oak is the more traditional choice. It has a pinkish tone and there are wild patterns in the grain. White oak is harder and more stable, the grains are finer, it has a warmer gold-brown tone and holds a stain more evenly.

White oak wins!!!

We didn’t have the upstairs flooring pulled up, so right now it’s the original pine. The floor guy checked it out yesterday and says we can keep it (big relief!). He’ll sand and refinish. We’ll keep whatever their natural color is once the floors have been sanded, but the floor guy is pretty sure they’ll stay dark.

The staircase is also the original pine. The plan is to sand the treads, paint the risers, and stain the banister and main posts to match the risers. Below left is a shot of the staircase, right is an example of how we see it from a color perspective.
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With the stairs being dark from the natural wood color, we’ve decided the flooring on the first floor should be lighter. If we try to match them too closely, it may look like a mistake. Here are some examples of stairs being darker than the floor.
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Today's Topics Of Conversation

An example of my notes-to-self prior to talking with LC today, and his answers in red:

Counter-depth vs. standard fridge and design implications. Either will work, but Standard is recommended. You get more for your money and the difference in this case is only a few inches.

Confirm fire-blocking is done. Done downstairs and upstairs.

Discuss upstairs floors - can we keep old floors? Should we keep old floors? We’ll discuss when the time is right.

Central Air - where upstairs will it be stored? The entire length of the eaves on one side of the house.

Countertops going up wall providing a short backsplash? Recommended? Either way is fine.

Washer/dryer - should we put counter over them? Not recommended since they are so deep. A cabinet above them, however, is recommended.

Basin for washing machine? Will look into it.

Plow for the snow we’re expecting? Will handle it, if needed.

Install landline? Just say where it goes.


An example of LC’s agenda for talking to us, my responses in black:

Interior doors. We need to decide on a style soon. We’ll get back to you.

Door handles. Gotta choose those since they match the hinges, and need an answer soon.
We’ll get back to you.

Front and Back doors. It’s recommended they be replaced since they aren’t insulated at all. Gotta decide soon.
We’ll get back to you.

Return vent for Central Air. Where do we want it? It’s gonna start being installed Monday.
We’ll get back to you.

Obviously, LC is much better at answering questions than I am.


What Wood You Do?

We know we’re going to put wood floors downstairs. What we don’t know is how wide they’re going to be. This has led to me looking at the width of every wooden floor I see and imagining it in our living room or dining room, and occasionally in our foyer when I’m not imagining the foyer tiled.

It has also led to a little research which I hope will help us decide.

Thin Wood (under 3 1/4 inches) vs. Wide Wood (Over 3 1/4 inches)

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  • Thinner wood makes the room look longer, wider wood makes the room look shorter
  • Thinner wood has a more formal look, wider wood’s look is more casual
  • Wider wood shrinks and swells more than thinner wood
  • With wider wood, there’s more likelihood of separation between cracks
  • Wider wood is more expensive
  • My Mom’s thin wood looks nice, as does the wide wood in my endodontist’s office

Walking The Floor Over Our Floors

Choosing a flooring is hard enough. Choosing where it will go is mind boggling.

Case in point: Our foyer, which sits between the living room and dining room and holds the stairwell (and hopefully the door to the downstairs bathroom, as well).

These pictures of the pre-gutted foyer explain our options - all of which we’ve decided to do at one point or another. None of which we’ve landed on as the definitive way to go.

Option A.
Foyer Floor Option A

Option B.
Foyer Floor Option B

Option C.
Foyer Floor Option C