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Garage sales shall provide, part IIand an “issue” with my floor

Last weekend I mentioned that if I fix some desired item in my mind garage sales would soon provide. That was in reference to a haul of stuff for my grab-and-go kit.

It should also be noted that garage sales provide items that one would never think of fixing in one’s mind.

Not if one were sane and sensible, anyway.

To wit:

Five part dish/planter in the shape of a dachshund

Dachshund dish/planter with parts removed

I’m not sure what it is. A candy dish? A planter? Who knows? I just know it made me laugh, and that alone was worth the two bucks I donated to the church hosting the sale. I’m not big on tchotchkes. When I’m done chuckling over it, it’ll probably find its way to eBay.

About that floor “issue” …

Damn and drat. Drat and damn.

The main bedroom of my new-old house has oak flooring. That’s unusual in a century-old working-class home in these parts. At that time even the business executives who lived up the hill would more likely have had only vertical-grain fir. The living room, adjacent to that bedroom, seemed likely to have oak, too. A few quick peeks under the wall-to-wall carpet said yep, I was gonna luck out and have oak floors there, too. Yeehaw! I love wood floors with beautiful area rugs on them. Don’t like wall-to-wall carpeting for a bunch of reasons.

But this weekend, in preparation for the big tear-up-the-carpet project, I peeled back a section at the other end of the room and this — sob! — is what I found:

Floor problem in my living room

Even the “good” wood there doesn’t appear to be oak (fir?). But the bad wood … oh, it’s so very, very, very bad. And this is in the most prominent part of the room — right in front of the (soon-to-be) tile fireplace surround.

I haven’t yet removed the carpet and pad, so I don’t know how far the bad wood extends. The ugly part is at least eight feet wide, but no idea how deep. I’m now making a guess that my nice, big living room was at one time two separate rooms, one with an oak floor, one with fir, and the fir floor got badly patched at some point. So once this carpet comes up, I expect I’ll have a room with three different types of wood flooring.

Any of you wood geniuses out there want to make some suggestions about how to make a silk purse out of this?

Even if I end up having to sand the whole floor down and paint it to hide a bunch of bad patchwork, that’ll still be cooler (and healthier for the dogs) than wall-to-wall carpet. I can picture it: gloss black or a deep rosewood floor paint varnished to the max. Kilim rugs (eBay specials) in strategic places. Unfortunately, I can also picture the effect of dog claws on a painted floor.

If there’s a way to get a good, polished wood floor with a lovely grain instead, without spending a mega-bazillion to lay all new floor, I’ll go for it. Ideas from the woodworkers very welcome.


  1. The Grey Lady
    The Grey Lady April 4, 2011 4:16 am

    I was thinking it is a pickle or condiment dish, back in the day, no woman was a proper hostess with out one in middle of the dinner table.

    Next family BBQ, I wouldn’t be able to resist putting the fixings for hot dogs in that.

  2. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 7:22 am

    Condiment dish for hot dogs! Grey Lady, that’s brilliantly hilarious! Now, instead of putting the thing on eBay, I’m going to have to throw a barbecue.

  3. Erik1904
    Erik1904 April 4, 2011 8:16 am

    I think what you do with the floors depends on your tolerance for character. If you don’t mind seeing the different woods used in the home sand it down and use multiple coats of polyurethane. I would use a spar varnish as this is what is typically used to finish wood work on boat. I think this would last longer.

    On the other hand paint works well. I have painted cement floors in my house and they have held up well. This is after 4 dogs and 7 people in the house. The dogs don’t tear the floor up, but a green scrubbie will. And we didn’t do the most professional job either prepping the surface.

  4. The Grey Lady
    The Grey Lady April 4, 2011 9:02 am

    Claire, when you want to be rid of it could I have first refusal? Joel knows how to get a hold of me. My kids would love to dress their dogs from that. :O)

  5. Pat
    Pat April 4, 2011 9:38 am

    The “dachshund dish” is a whatever–you-want-to-use-it-for clutter dish: condiments, chips, nuts, dips, candies, shells, rocks, keys, nail clippers, odds-and-ends. My brother bought two because he had a dachshund — an SOB, if ever there was one (the dog, not my brother). They do serve a purpose, however. You bought two sizes?

    Your paint job sounds like a good idea. How much floor do you want showing? If it’s just the edges, you can keep the dogs off by judicious use of furniture placement. If much of the floor is showing around/between the rugs, there’s a product called _Roll-On_ used for roller skating rinks, but it may be too costly or you may have to buy too much for your needs. Also I’ve found that a couple of good coats of floor wax (not as expensive or complicated to apply as polyurethane or acrylic urethane) will work very well.

    Anyway, the rugs placed here and there may not allow them to do damage to the floors. They can get a better grip on the rugs than they could on the floors, and a bed/blanket at the edge of a rug won’t allow them to touch the floor. Maybe you should teach them to walk on the rugs. 🙂

  6. Lisa
    Lisa April 4, 2011 9:57 am

    That dachshund is awesome! I love it! First thing I thought of was condiments when I saw it. And how handy to be able to put in various number of dishes to make the dog. So cool!!!

    No advice on the wood flooring. Sorry =(

  7. Lisa
    Lisa April 4, 2011 9:58 am

    I can’t proof at all today. Claire, could you fix my goofs in the previous comment? Thank you.

  8. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 10:07 am

    Fixed, Lisa. 🙂 And I’m glad other people can’t always proof their comments. I can’t count the number of times I’ve posted comments with some huge mistake in them. With me it usually happens when I’m trying to sound brilliant. Duh.

  9. Matt
    Matt April 4, 2011 10:12 am

    On the floors, it depends on how much the different woods bothered you. It does recflect that the previous owner(s) cared enough to patch the floors with wood instead of just laying down plywood and then carpet or tile. It also shows a previous homowner that quite possibly used what was available and/or free to patch the floors.

    If twer mine, I’d lightly sand, stain, and seal with spar varnish and proudly show them off. Mismatched wood floors are still wood floors and a rarity.

  10. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 10:14 am

    Pat, your brother had dishes like that? I see an amazing number of dachshund kitchen or decorative gadgets on eBay, but I had no idea anything like this even existed. (I mean, who would think of such a thing?) I didn’t buy two sizes. It’s one thig-a-magig in five pieces. The second photo just shows it with two of them removed.

    I’ll have to check out that roll-on stuff. Thanks for the suggestion.

    It’s probably true that ordinary dog activities wouldn’t damage the floor, and yes, strategic use of rugs and furniture is good (though I’d still like to show a goodly bit of floor). But … er, I play fetch with Ava in the living room because the weather here is usually so crappy and she has so much energy. So I actually encourage boisterous use of the room and I leave most of the room wide open to accommodate Ava running, leaping, and scrambling. The living room floor is guaranteed to take an unusual beating. Yeah, I know I could change my (and Ava’s) ways. But not likely …

  11. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 10:16 am

    Grey Lady — I will definitely give that some thought. Right now I have some fantasy about using it, but truth is around here it’ll probably just get shoved in a cabinet and forgotten. But I can see how kids would just love it. And I know how wonderful you’ve been to Joel.

  12. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue April 4, 2011 11:00 am

    Hi Claire,
    You know, seeing the oak at the edges makes me think perhaps they had, at one time, a lino “rug” on the floor. Do the oak edges go around the perimeter of the floor? If it does, one thing you could do is finish the oak edges, then paint the mismatched wood center in a pattern of a rug. Your result would be at first glance a fabulous rug on an oak floor. Just my two cents worth, well, now I guess I should finish my tea and get busy.

  13. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 11:32 am

    Teresa Sue — linoleum rug. Hm. I hadn’t considered that. Had forgotten such things ever existed, though now that you mention it I know what you’re talking about. What a bizarre thing that was. I won’t know if that’s what I’ve got until I get a helper in here later this week or next and pull up the carpet and pad. But if that’s the case, indeed some very interesting things could be done with the rough wood area!

    The local flooring store owner was just here on another errand. I had him take a look at the “issue” and he said that the cost of getting it replaced/repaired/refinished would be so high I’d be better off putting either a laminate or an engineered hardwood over it. Since it’s a large room, some sort of DYI painting or refinishing job is more likely.

    Linoleum rug … what a weird idea …

  14. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 11:36 am

    Speaking of linoleum rugs … when I put “linoleum rug” into a search engine, this is one of the things that came up. These folks do LRs and canvas floorcloths (whatever those might be). Pretty cool. And I could do something like this myself.

    And oh my, the possibilities I never even suspected:

    And the things I never knew:

    The article from Old House Journal mentions that these things were popular in Craftsman/Arts & Crafts houses. Mine isn’t one of those. (I wish! The Craftsmans around here start at about four times what I paid for this place.) But it’s of that era. And from the two borders of that awful space I’ve found so far — which both fall right where the edge of a big carpet might — indeed I’m beginning to think you’re right, Teresa Sue.

  15. Heather
    Heather April 4, 2011 11:41 am

    A canvas floorcloth is basically a painted (usually with some sort of design) and then varnished canvas dropcloth. And it is totally something you can do yourself. I’ve wanted to try one for years, but never gotten to it.

  16. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 12:10 pm

    Heather, I was just about to look for a how-to on that. Seriously — just an ordinary drop cloth, painted and varnished? That’s all there is to it? You’re right. I could do that. If you ever get around to trying yours, I’d love to see photos.

    If it comes down to it, I’d have to do that. Or something equivalent. Because if Teresa Sue is right, I’m likely to find rough wood covering an area at least 10 x 15 feet — waaaaay bigger than I’d ever be able to afford to carpet.

    Back to looking for that how-to …

    Found: (the raw material) (instructions)

    This is way cool. The “issue” is rapidly turning into a creative opportunity.

  17. Pat
    Pat April 4, 2011 1:07 pm

    Several years ago, a few HGTV remodeling programs showed how to measure, design, and paint canvas painted rugs. Don’t know if they’re still available in HGTV archives or not.

  18. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue April 4, 2011 1:37 pm

    One thing you would have to consider Claire, if you do a canvas floor cloth, it’s going to be all slippery sliddie, especially when the dogs are running and horsing around. The painted floor would work better. Also I understand the canvas floor cloths crack and peel their protective coating after a while. If I was going to go to all the work of being artsy fartsy, I would def paint the floor. 😉 If I wasn’t clear across the mountains I would help you…of course you would have to pay me in beer, lol.
    P.S. I am sick of the rain, please keep it on your side of the mountain. 😉

  19. Pat
    Pat April 4, 2011 2:10 pm

    I think a clear coating could be applied to make the rug last longer, and non-slip padding under the rug could be added as well. In fact, I would suggest backing of some sort, because canvas can be somewhat porous and dirt can slip through on the floor. (I made that mistake once with a sisal rug, and it was a mess under the rug when I took it up. Vacuuming didn’t get all from the rug, some dirt just went on through.)

    From HGTV:

    From DIY:

    A video from eHow:

    How to make the rug itself:

    Claire, if you use a canvas rug, may I suggest part of the design? 🙂 How about painting Robbie in the center? Or — if you plan to lay other rugs over the canvas — paint your dogs around the canvas edges or between the rugs.

  20. Kentucky Kid
    Kentucky Kid April 4, 2011 2:43 pm

    Doesn’t really help much, but this is not uncommon on floors of a hundred years ago or so. Halfway decent wood, sometimes oak or the like, would be used for the first couple of feet around the perimeter of the room, with the center portion of “economy” stuff that would be covered by the room-sized rugs popular at that time.

    Linoleoum became popular for this a little later.

  21. naturegirl
    naturegirl April 4, 2011 4:21 pm

    Your wood expert based his “expensive” proclamation on if you paid someone to do all the work….I dunno how big/muscular you are, but consider renting a sander and taking a stab at it before you decide what to do with it ~ see how it looks after sanding….altho I do love the painted rug idea because your imagination can really go wild with the theme(s)…

    Must say, I am a wood purist….I cringe at painting wood, but have to admit the faux tile you did looks wonderful……

  22. NMC_EXP
    NMC_EXP April 4, 2011 5:10 pm


    I’ll confirm other comments re: your floor. I’ve lived in two circa 1900 houses which had a perimeter of nice hardwwod (approximately twelve inches in from the wall). The rest of the floor was very plain, if not downright ugly wood. In one of these the perimeter was laid in a tesselated pattern.

    In the pre wall to wall carpet days, an area rug covered the plain wood and left the perimeter exposed.



  23. Claire
    Claire April 4, 2011 8:37 pm

    Pat — Thanks for the links! LOL, I’d love to paint my dogs into the design (although Robbie already has a big enough ego without being painted into the center of the rug-universe). A border of dogs with a smaller “real” rug in the center is pretty neat idea.

    Teresa Sue — Point well taken on the slipperiness of the canvas. If I go that route I’d definitely secure it with double-sided carpet tape or lay it on a pad (though some directions say not to put a pad under it). Much though I appreciate the offer of help — LOL — (and I’d be glad to supply the beer), you’re on your own with the rain. We’ve had so damn much here it’s no surprise if it’s getting deep enough to slop over the mountains.

    naturegirl — Brawny or not, I’ll definitely end up sanding down the floor myself. But the difference between the beautiful wood on the edges and the yuck in the middle … that’s never going to be pretty. I think the floor guy’s warning pertained mostly to pulling up that bad wood and replacing it with oak that would harmonize with old flooring laid down 105 years ago.

    I hear ya on being a purist. I don’t have anything against painted wood, particularly. But I hate anything faux unless it’s done for laughs or for a wow factor. Or as a creative solution to an otherwise-expensive problem. I hate that so many vinyl floors are made to look like ceramic tile when there are ways to make vinyl itself look cool. It bugs me vinyl and metal house sidings are always made to look like pretend wood. Now, if I could buy a steel siding that actually looked like, say, brushed stainless, I’d love that! But why make one material look like a cheap and cheesy version of another? Don’t get it. It’s like wearing rhinestones and imagining everybody thinks they’re diamonds. I can see good reasons for metal or vinyl siding; I just don’t think it should be an imitation of something else.

    Kentucky Kid and NMC_EXP — I’m learning an awful lot today. I never even heard of making a floor pretty around the edges then rendering the center permanently and irrevocably ugly. But now I’ve seen it. I guess I’m lucky; the two edges of the ugly area I’ve found so far are at least four feet out from the walls (though only inches from that fireplace surround). If that holds true all the way around, I guess I’ll be a happy girl. And knowing all this does help. You guys are giving me quite an education.

  24. Lisa
    Lisa April 4, 2011 9:43 pm

    Thanks for the fix Claire. My mind has been in far away places lately and my proofing skills (which are not great on a good day) have suffered.

    Thanks everyone for sharing info on the wood flooring. It’s been very interesting to read.

  25. naturegirl
    naturegirl April 5, 2011 12:09 am

    Some may laugh, but when I first saw pretend wood and pretend tile (on a roll – ! -) I actually said it’s the beginning of the end of the world…..the decking, fencing, doors (and yeah that hideous siding) that are plastic made to look like wood – we’re out of the real stuff?????…it’s all over, now…..

    – And the plastic make believe stuff scratches, dents, gets holes in it, fades/sandblasts, falls over just as much as the real wood does (but harder to fix)….I think I’ve ironed down more fake-tile-vinyl corners than I have actual cloth, in recent years…….

    I dunno, Claire, having brushed stainless siding isn’t probably very good opsec when the sun’s out…..However if some dumb burglar puts his hands on it accidentally, you’d have his prints….LOL

    Once you sand it may look a little better, but hiding the middle will be fun from a creative standpoint…..back in my decorative painting days I did a small canvas rug (and used fabric paints on it, mostly because I had some already) and it held up really well until the flood came along and yucked it up ~ so I can’t speak to the longevity of one of those…I did stick to darker colors for most of it, to offset the dirt factor (and it was in a kitchen nook, more heavily walked on vs a bedroom)……it didn’t fly around as much on a (real) wooden floor as it would on tile, but those rug liners that look like shelf lining (little squares of some kinda rubbery material) under it did the trick (and washes up nicely, too)….- If you have to cut that type of lining into strips to cover large spaces, I stitched them together so they wouldn’t become unruly under the rug……I also had glued a thin binding around the edges, to help it stay flat and give it some extra “oomph”……

    My cat use to run around and dive into the throw rugs, bunch em up and run on to the next rug-victim…..she met her match with the stiffened canvas rug, LOL, it wouldn’t cooperate with her bunch-it-into-a-ball plans ~ so, they may be “animal proof”……

  26. Jolly
    Jolly April 5, 2011 9:29 am

    Cheap substitutes for fancy digs has been going on for at least 2,100 years. Through iTunes University, I’m “auditing” a Yale University class on Ancient Roman Architecture. Four classes were on – Roman Wall Painting.

    The first version was nothing more than painting a boring wall to look like marble, granite, and other “fancy” rocks. Entire walls were painted, with full shading, to look like carefully laid blocks of the good stuff.

    These were in villas of what they believe to be rich people. Humans’ ingenuity to fool himself appears to be innate and eternal.

  27. Scott
    Scott April 5, 2011 2:03 pm

    I lived in an old house that had the “good wood” a couple fett from the wall, with the cheap stuff in the center-I suppose you threw a rug over the center. My grandmother had one of those condiment dishes, except it was a floppy-eared Bassett-ish dog,and a Siamese cat silverware holder. These are so tacky(Tacqui?)they’re cool.

  28. Claire
    Claire April 5, 2011 3:14 pm

    Scott — It’s so funny. I never knew houses with weird uglies in the middles of their floors existed. Now I learn everybody but me knows all about ’em!

    And yes … tacqui. 🙂 Very weird. But in exactly the right way. Like an Elvis clock whose hips move with each tick.

  29. winston
    winston April 6, 2011 8:01 pm

    I’m gonna be the voice of dissent…

    I think your floor looks cool. Not cool like trendy saw-it-on-HGTV cool…cool like a classic car with some rust on it, or cool like a combat rifle that’s been properly camo painted.

    But then again my idea of serious interior decorating is putting a pirate flag on the wall. So I’ll let the grownups handle this one…

  30. Claire
    Claire April 6, 2011 8:40 pm

    “I think your floor looks cool. Not cool like trendy saw-it-on-HGTV cool…cool like a classic car with some rust on it, or cool like a combat rifle that’s been properly camo painted.”

    I’ll try to see it that way. Not because I really agree, but because it would be cheaper than any other way of thinking about it. 🙂

    The wall-to-wall carpet and pad comes up Friday or Saturday. Crossing fingers about exactly what might be under there. Right now my best guess and best hope is a four-foot border of beautiful (though abused) oak on all sides, grunge everywhere else. Yes, learn to love grunge …

  31. winston
    winston April 7, 2011 9:39 am

    I guess I’m used to it having lived in a 100+ year old house for most of my life. You can paint the walls all you like but the various wooden parts like doors, floors, windowsills, trim and everything else…have seen a century of kids and pets and general wear and tear and it shows. But for a farmhouse it just looks…right.

    But as far as real advice goes…with my house the rustic decor makes a big difference. The difference between “we just don’t care around here” and “we do care, and this is the way it’s supposed to look”

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