Browsing Category: diy projects

TV Room Redo Part 1: Floors Refinished

It’s the law of the Universe that when you plan for a project way ahead of time and have a reasonable time frame and strategy set out, you will then randomly decide to do that project one Friday afternoon between about 5-5:30.

As of last Friday, we’d been planning to refinish the floors in our TV room for quite some time, for reasons that will be clear below. Since we weren’t sure we felt like taking on a big project this fall, we decided to wait until spring when the weather would be warm and the windows could be left open nice and wide. But, when we downsized our couch, the imperfections in the floor became more visible and more bothersome, so last Friday we took an innocent outing to Home Depot to “look into” the cost of renting a floor sander. About an hour later, we walked out of the store with supplies, the sander, and 24-hours to get the job done.

A word of advice to novices out there who might be thinking about refinishing your own floors: you may think you want to rent a drum sander, but you’re probably better off with a square buff floor sander. We went in asking for a drum sander ourselves, but luckily we were helped out by a cool cat named Michael in equipment rental who warned us that these machines are not meant for newbies. And I have to say, even though the buff sander took significantly longer to clear the floors, we were glad we went that route. As the stain came off, we realized that a lot of the problems in our own floor happened because someone incompetent previously refinished them with a drum sander. As a result there were scratches, gouges, and curly cue marks all over the floors that we then had to remove by hand with an orbital sander. So avoid the risk that you will fudge up your floors and piss off your home’s future owners: just SAY NO to the drum sander.

One of the biggest issues with our floor was that there was a floor to ceiling “art” installation in the room when we bought the house. As it turns out, the “art” was not only glued to the floor, which left some nasty residue, but the previous owners had also refinished around it. Plus, it was in a weird spot only a foot or two from the door, so regardless of what furniture or rug you had in there, it was very hard to cover up.

Before: Crazy Art
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After: Crazy Mess!
Bad refinishing on a wood floorBad refinishing job in our tv room done by the previous owners
You can see some of the swirls and gouges from the drum sander in this picture. These were made when the previous owners tried to maneuver the sander around the art.
Floor damage caused by drum sander.

Now for the fix. First there was sanding.
Sanding floors with a square buff sander

Then staining.
Applying pre stain/wood conditioner and stain to wood floors

Then applying polyurethane–four coats!

IMG_3960Tip: If you use a sheep’s wool to apply poly, you can speed up the drying time significantly with a little grooming.
Drying a sheep's wool mop head with a hair dryer
The nice and shiny finished product!
Newly refinished wood floors in a bungalow

And heres the before again, just to refresh your memory.
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In terms of supplies, this was the damage.

Supplies for refinishing wood floors

1. Half a quart of wood conditioner (pre-stain) – $8/qt
2. Half a quart of Rust-oleum American Walnut stain – $8/qt
3. A gallon of Min-Wax water-based oil-modified polyurethane – $50 (Water-based poly is significantly more expensive than oil-based, but it doesn’t smell and has a much faster drying time.)
4. Two staining pads and half a sponge for the pre-stain – $3
5. A wool mop-head for pushing poly (must be attached to a broom handle) – $8
6. 10 pieces of 80-grit round sand paper for the orbital hand sander – Already had
7. 11 pieces of sand paper for the square buff floor sander (six 36-grit, three 80-grit, and two 120-grit) – $6-7/ea
8. Sander rental – $55/day

Total cost – $200, give or take a few bucks. Compare this with the $3-4/sq ft you might expect to pay a professional, and your cost to DIY is just about half.

On the whole, this project was a little more time consuming and a lot dirtier than I was expecting (because sanding 120 sq ft of wood shouldn’t be dirty at all, right?), but the end result was totally worth it. The only problem now is that the TV room floors have gone from the worst in the house to practically the best!

Somebody hold us back. Home Depot has a floor sander, and we know how to use it.

Turning a Closet into…a Closet

One of the strangest things about becoming a homeowner is that you develop a sudden ability to care about really boring things. For example–closets. Who cares about closets?! Homeowners–that’s who, and they care a lot.

Which is why it’s kind of a cool deal that the previously useless storage space in my kitchen has finally been converted into a totally usable closet.

Also, my awesome husband did this for me. Or maybe it was already the next project on his list, and I happened to complain right at the time he was getting around to it, but I think it was the former. Several weeks ago, I brought up the tragedy of the underutilized storage space in our kitchen.
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My dream, I said, was to have a stackable washer and dryer in that space. Well–that didn’t happen. But the closet is now way more functional, and once all the crap was out of it, I realized it probably wasn’t large enough for a washer/dryer anyway, and it cost about 3% of my proposed washer project, so I’m satisfied.

After removing the weird drawers, Justin leveled the wall with a piece of plywood and patched about a zillion holes from the weird shelving.
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Then he painted the interior to match the kitchen and added a double rack for shelving and hanging.  IMG_3399
Finally, he finished the space with the same trim and shoe molding found in the rest of the house. No skimping on the details here.
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Now, we have effectively concealed all evidence that we are hoarders and even–is it possible?–have a little room to spare.
closet before and after
Looks like I need a few more coats.

Webbing a Wooden Couch Frame

If you have any furniture with a wood frame and loose cushions, it’s a good bet you you have a piece of furniture supported by webbing. And if your furniture is old and the webbing is original, it’s another good bet it’s not supporting your butt–or anyone else’s for that matter–the way it used to.

This is a problem we’ve been experiencing for a few months with the ’60s platform couch in our living room. The couch felt less than totally stable, and I was constantly noticing that the cushion slid forward when anyone sat on it. When we bought it, I didn’t really know to check under the cushions, but when I finally gave the seat some attention, I discovered the culprit was some mega stretched-out and partially deteriorated webbing.

Loose webbing on a vintage wooden couch frame

Sure, this looks like it might make a comfy hammock, but in general you don’t want your butt to continue sinking toward the ground after you’ve already had a seat. It was past time for new webbing.

Luckily, webbing the seat of a couch is a pretty simple and relatively inexpensive project you can easily do yourself with only a couple tools and supplies. It didn’t make much mess, and the only things needed were a roll of jute webbing, two pair of pliers, a pneumatic staple gun, a some 5/8″ staples.

First, Justin removed the old webbing.
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Then, it was just a matter of attaching the new webbing in a simple weave pattern. We made sure to cut the webbing a few inches longer than the seat on both ends. When securing it, we stapled each end, then folded the excess over and stapled again for added stability.

Stapling jute webbing
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We finished the short side first.
New webbing on a wooden couch frame

Using the same stapling technique, I weaved the longer pieces through the shorter pieces.
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The only real trick to this is keeping the webbing taut. There is a contraption called a webbing stretcher that exists for this expressed purpose, and if you are one person doing this job, you will probably need one. Because Justin helped with this, he was able to pull while I stapled. What worked best was for him to grab the webbing using two sets of pliers rather than his two hands. He also sat on the floor and pushed the against the couch with his feet for even more superior resistance (I’ll leave you to ponder that image in your free time).

That’s all folks! Done.
Weaving new webbing on a wooden couch frame

And done.
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The webbing cost around $35 for 75 yards, and we used about 15 yards for this project, so all in all, it cost about $8 and took an hour of our weekend. Still, this small change made a world of difference in the comfort of our couch and probably the longevity of frame and cushions alike. As an added bonus, my husband got to play Justin Plierhands for a short while, and an evening at my place no longer means guests will enjoy saggy bottom with their sparkling conversation. Everybody wins.

Custom Framing on the Cheap

There’s a familiar cycle of discussion in my house where Justin and I decide we’re going “splurge” on some item or improvement, look into buying it or having it done, and then decide there’s probably no way we could sleep at night knowing we’d forked over X amount on Y thing.

And that’s exactly what happened when we wanted to frame this signed, numbered print by mid-century artist Howard Bradford that we bought a few months ago.
Howard Bradford landscape print
At a total size of 26″x40″, we figured it’s a large print–and the nicest art we’ve ever owned–so with framing and matting it could be a great statement piece for somewhere in the house. Not only that, but we had a strategy: a simple, my minimalist frame and basic mat, something that would be budget conscious and put the emphasis on the print itself. AND, we had a COUPON.

So, one Friday night, we took our vision, our coupon, and the mailing tube with our print down to Michael’s to have all our dreams dashed. At the framing counter, a whole series of complications arose that are not worth recounting except to say that we were ultimately quoted a few prices ranging from $350 to over $1000. For that amount, I can feed three hungry chihuahuas for probably something like five years, including puppy ice cream on all of their birthdays, so the answer was pretty obviously a “no.”

The solution we came up with was to find a frame, have a custom mat cut separately, and assemble the thing ourselves. Finding a reasonably priced frame for a 26″x40″ print proved kind of difficult in its own right, though. Most frames large enough were for movie posters–which are 27″x40″–and were plastic and kind of cheap looking. Eventually I started looking not for a frame but for pre-framed art that I could tear apart and take the frame, and soon after I found just what I needed on clearance at Gordman’s for $19. The first thing I did was remove the paper from the back so I could access the print itself:
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It was a basic black frame, which didn’t go with our Howard Bradford print at all, so I hauled out the paint to give it a make over. I didn’t want to risk trying to remove a piece of glass that large, so I taped paper over the glass to protect it and applied the primer:
Spray painting a picture frame Prime and spray paint to use pre framed art for custom framing
The paper turned out to be a huge mistake. The primer was too heavy and ended up causing some of the paper to get stuck to the underside of the frame, so I spend another 15 minutes using a razor blade to shave off small strips of paint and paper:
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When it came time to spray paint, Justin suggested a different approach. We used a piece of poster board to shield the glass and moved it around the frame as we sprayed. Since spray paint is a much lighter application anyway, it worked great. If I were to do this project again, I would definitely save myself some time and use a spray primer. The gold spray paint was left over from the deer head in the living room:
Gold metallic Krylon spray paint on a large picture frame

We did return to Michael’s to get a mat cut in an off-white color. This took about a day and cost $43. It fit perfectly with the frame and print:
Close up of gold spray painted picture frame
After that, it was just the routine process of assembling and hanging. So for a grand total of $62, we achieved our goal of getting a simple, budget-friendly frame that complements the print.

And I’m sleeping just fine.
Dark green bedroom, neutral curtains, printed pillows, framed art above bed