My Old Floors – Before, After, and a Whole Lot of Delerium

I was going to let this wait until after I have a real-world reveal tomorrow but I can’t contain my excitement. (Shoot me a comment if you want to come.) I’ve known what I was doing with these floors for more than 2 years and you have no idea what it’s like to see it finally happen!

So let’s go through it all. I knew the living room had nice floors, but they had (just) been refinished really badly. Like wavy, coins stuck in the poly, and they didn’t sand the corners or under the radiators. And ridiculous drips. I knew these had potential but was a little scared there wasn’t enough material left to redo them again. I think these floors were added in the 30’s when the house was about 40 years old.

Living room, front

Living room, front

And what do I have now? Drumroll please…


Then, did you see the pink marble tile in the vestibule? It was poorly installed and also (I think) 12×12 tiles were totally wrong for the space. Luckily, under a vinyl floor there was wood. And a lot of black glue.


And now? (You can also see that the water damaged area at the front isn’t perfect, but perfect wasn’t what I wanted anyway)


And how about all those carpet tacks in the stairs?




Then there’s the kitchen.


That vinyl floor was one of 7


And under it was this. This pine is not original to the house so I assume they needed a flatter subfloor for linoleum sometime between the 1930’s and the 50’s.


And now? (It’s not quite as yellow as it looks here.)


And the same angle as the February 2013 Before, just for fun.


Then we’ll go upstairs. Starting in the front bedroom. This room was the only place in the house where I could see the original random width pine subflooring. It was intriguing, but also painted purple. And yes, that’s a traditional South Philly master bedroom closet.

Front bedroom closet

Front bedroom closet

There were some bad patches at one end of the room, so I redid them with other original wood. (That process took several posts in 2014, starting here.)




I was expecting them to come out lighter. Not that I don’t love the color, but now that white paint between the floorboards shows more than expected. I might color it in with a marker.

It’s also fun that you can see where walls came out. There used to be a door connecting the front and middle bedrooms (this is a thing in Philly) that I enlarged when that part of the old middle bedroom became a closet. Here’s the scar.


And the upstairs hall might finally look better than when I bought the place. Tell me what you think. Also, this floor is fun because you can see the shadows of where the oak floorboards used to be. Also the crazy contrast between the oak and this old pine. Both just have clear water based poly on them.

Upstairs hall

Upstairs hall

Then with the oak out:


And now!


Then there’s the back bedroom.

Back bedroom

Back bedroom

I pulled out the original floors, enlarged and rebuilt the room, and put the old floors back in, plus some salvaged material mixed in. (This post shows the floors done, 6 weeks after starting in the other room.)



The floorboards in this room are lighter and more varied in color, which I assume is just because my installation as uneven and they had to sand harder.


And that threshold the Irishman built is really light because he cut the original patina all the way off.


There may be a few tweaks yet, but you get the idea for now. I’m pretty ecstatic.


19 thoughts on “My Old Floors – Before, After, and a Whole Lot of Delerium

  1. infinitequery

    WOW! A thing of Beauty can be A Joy Forever even if people insist on messing it up- some hard working genius comes along and fixes it and it becomes beautiful again. Chad you are a Renaissance Man and we applaud you………and Kudos to the Irishman also…………..


  2. Barbara H.

    Congratulations. I know it’s been a long time coming. You are a patient man who now has beautiful floors in a house that will be loving you back for all the hard work put into saving it.


  3. Casey

    WOW. I can’t stop staring at these photos. I scroll all the way down, back up, and start over. I love how they all look refreshed, but obviously not new. Absolutely amazing! Also, looks like you’ve put some work into the upstairs railing? Can’t wait to see that all finished out, as well.


  4. Julian

    Looks great! I’m with you on the losing interest in nonessential work. In our house that happened after the house became habitable, and the projects have slowed way down… 🙂


  5. Chris Harris

    Everything looks so very lovely and I am so enjoying your process. A year ago I bought my little 1927 bungalow but someone else had already renovated the interior. AND HE DIDN’T TAKE PICTURES! Hurray for bloggers like you who document the whole process. It is SO INTERESTING!


  6. Mary Elizabeth

    Wonderful look, especially the living room. Congratulations! Just think of when you will have the luxury of living in the house and saying, “Oh, this weekend I’ll finish up the banister.”


  7. Nine Dark Moons

    OMG Chad! they look soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow! i think the living room, the stairs, and the back bedroom are my favorites. but everything is stunning, and i love how each area/room has it’s own uniqueness to it’s flooring. fantastic!


  8. Jo

    Just beautiful. It’s hard to imagine the impact of floors on a design until you’ve patiently put in a ton of work and money. Yee-ha!! Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


  9. Whitney

    Hey I’m also a Philly resident working on an old pine floor. Your befores look a lot like mine. Can I ask who refinished yours? I am stressed out trying to find a good recommendation and not sure I can pull it off myself. We didn’t consider laying new subfloor under the original pine either… They look really great!


  10. Pingback: Chad's Crooked House

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