Hardwood Floor Sanding (I would like to punch whoever put vinyl on top of my hardwood)

Are you looking for a total body work out? Well, do I have the tool for you! Try using a drum sander for four to six hours in one day and three hours the following day. It will do the trick!


Neck, back, shoulders, triceps, abs, and butt work out all in one. We rented the drum sander for the weekend in an attempt to sand 100+years old dirt, grime and glue off the hardwood. Ryan started the drum sander first, going slowly pushing the sander with the grain of the hardwood. It started off pretty exciting….


And slowly got less exciting as we realized this is going to take FOREVER. We started using 20 grit sandpaper (very very course) to remove grim, color, and glue off the floor. I was under the impression that two runs with the 20 grit paper would do the trick as far as removing glue. From what I read, with most flooring you can start with 36 grit if you are just trying to removing the existing finish.

Here we are before we started.


Here we are after round 1.


As you can see, there is still A LOT of glue and gunk left over. So, we moved onto to round 2. This time trying to move the sander as slow as possible. With a drum sander, it is important to keep it moving or it can damage the floor.


Another side note – sanding floors creates a TON of dust! The drum sander we were using had a vacuum attachment but it didn’t stand a chance against the amount of dust we were creating. For round 2, Ryan and I tag teamed with one person operating the sander and one person following around with a shop-vac. It seemed to help as well.


Well, with round 2 finished around 4 pm we were less than impressed. There was still a significant amount of glue left in places. So, I took a “google break” to look for tips. I found that some people went diagonal across the wood in rough places and then went back over it with the direction of the wood to remove any markings left by the sander. When sanding or  staining wood, you pretty much always go WITH the grain of the wood, not against it. I was a little nervous about it, but at this point I was very tired and just wanted to finish, so I gave it a try.


It seemed to help in some places, but it definitely required more muscle power.

We had some other exciting progress last week. Ryan did an awesome job cutting the butcher block and installing the sink.


And we also have a working sink & toilet! YAY!


I also started putting up the tile back-splash in the kitchen and around the tub surround upstairs.

Kitchen_tile Kitchen_tilebacksplash


I decided to put tile above the tub so we wouldn’t have to worry about water causing the paint to peel. Our bathroom upstairs is really starting to look like a finished bathroom. I am so excited with how the vanity turned out!

upstairs-bath_vanity Upstairs-bathroom_vanity

I will share a more detailed post later about how we converted it from a table into a vanity. It was EASY! The hexagon floor turned out pretty well. There a few spots that are not perfect (in the corner where I started laying tile) but thankfully it is around the toilet area so I will hopefully be the only person who notices, except for the few of you reading this!


The shower tub combo has been installed for a while, but we do now have tub and shower plumbing fixtures. I look forward to cleaning everything heavily next week!


We also sanded and primed the stairway. No more dingy yellow and watermelon pink .

stairs_prep-for-paint Stairs_painted stairs_ceiling-painted

Our kind-of-new stairs now have new risers to match as well! Thanks, Dad!!


Lastly, I tried out a new product last week. After installing reclaimed wood flooring in the kitchen, we had enough left over to install it in the powder room as well. Originally we thought we would tile in the powder room, but we loved the look of the reclaimed wood and it was zero extra dollars we had to spend (yay!) so we went with the hardwood.

I was a little nervous about what I needed to use on the reclaimed wood floor to seal it. I wanted to keep the exact color of the wood but protect it from day-to-day wear. My fear was that regular polyurethane would turn the floor yellow. Even the clear poly will turn yellow over time (from what I have heard). How devastating would it be to have dingy-grayish-yellow floors in 5 years?!?!?! There would be tears, folks.

After a little research, I decided to test out a water based poly made by Minwax.


Since it water based instead of oil based, it is supposed to dry CRYSTAL clear and stay clear. It also dries a lot faster than oil based poly and barely has an odor to it. The downside is that is not as durable as an oil based, so I will probably need to reseal my floors again in a few years. With only a two hour drying time though, I am not too upset about that!

In the can, the poly looks white, almost like a very thin milk substance.


Once I put a coat on and it began to dry, the white disappeared and became completely clear. Victory!!!


Hopefully it will stay this color! *Fingers crossed* As of today, I have very pleased with the product. It was easy to apply, required a very short dry time, and dried completely clear. We will just have to see how it holds up over time!

That’s about it for this past week and weekend. We are continuing to work on sanding the floors this week and hope to be putting stain down on Sunday night. Our plumber and gas guy are supposed to finish this week as well. Key there is supposed to. Also, if you guys could pray for it NOT to rain this Saturday, that would be awesome. We REALLY need to insulate the attic this weekend and the weather has not worked in our favor the past couple Saturdays we wanted to do it. It is one of our big final Certificate of Occupancy check list items, so it has to get done. I personally don’t care if the attic is insulated by next weekend, but my building inspector does 🙂




So long stairs!

We have T-minus 20 days and counting until we move in to our house! AHH! So we are just chugging right along with our CO to-do list. *I think I can, I think I can*

The big project for last Saturday was to demo and rebuild the stairs. Remember these beauties?

Merrimack Renovation stairs

Saturday it was so long stairs! Fair well. You are gross and yucky, and I will not miss your soggy, spongy treads!

stairs_beginning Stairs_demo

All I had to do was bring in the muscle!


Ryan and my Dad tear things down at such different speeds it is almost hilarious. Ryan is very methodical and moves forward slowly. You can tell he is thinking as he goes (engineer). Dad on the other hand, just goes. “Oh you want that torn down? Done!” Boom. Dad is done. I think Dad took down 3/4 of the stairs in the time it took Ryan to do 1/4. It’s just funny to watch the different personalities at work!

Dad and I ripped down the stair treads on the table saw while Ryan rebuilt the bottom platform. Since we kept the original stair runner, they are narrower than stairs you would find in a newer home. With that said, every stair tread had to be cut down to the correct size. As far as the platform at the bottom,  we decided to go with a platform that was similar to the one existing, hoping our building inspector won’t notice or question it as much (Sooo SHHHH!! Don’t tell Claire). Also, the stair runner actually sits on the platform, so made things extra fun for Ryan.

Stiars_platform stairs_ryan

The platform and building the first step was all Ryan’s doing. I have no idea what all he did to make that work. I just cut treads as I was told and carried oak treads back and forth. FYI – Oak treads are pretty darn, heavy y’all.


The project took most of the day, but by 7 pm Saturday evening, we had new stair treads!


Hurray! Safe stairs. Still steep, but no more sagging or hole in the middle. Mom did her fair share of work, too. She got the privilege of cleaning the toilets that have been hanging out in the yard. Not just one, but two toilets!



One is from the original bathroom and one is actually from a friend. Yay free toilets! He thought I was kidding when I said, “Yes, I will take the toilet.” You know what the original toilet was filled with?

Take a guess.

Really. Guess.

It’s really gross.

So gross I don’t have pictures.

Keep in mind the toilet was in the yard for 9 months or more.

SLUGS! The toilet was full of slugs. BLAH!!!!!!!!

So full of slugs is a slight exaggeration, but there were some slugs on the bottom side of the toilet, along with grass and mud. GROSS!!!

With a good pair of gloves and a little elbow grease they are good as new.


Some other updates – I finished grouting tile last week…


We also got the living room and powder room painted. I love the living room color! SW Riverway for anyone wondering. It doesn’t show well in these photos, but it is really pretty.

paint_living-room2 paint_living-room


My Dad also wanted me to show of some of his handy work (other than demolition). Check out our home audio stuff….


And our tech closet. I don’t really know what to call it, but it is all thanks to Dad.


Ooooohhhh. Ahhhhh.

I also got started on the bathroom vanity for upstairs. More updates soon! I can tell you that I love the vanity and the plumber did NOT threaten to kill me when he saw it yesterday. Victory!!

Vanity-sneak-peekWhew. That’s where we are. What have you been up to? Anyone have free time and want to come over? I won’t stop you!

Peace. Have a good week!


Hello Drywall My Old Friend.

Ryan and I spent our Saturday morning running around like chickens with our heads cut off knocking out the last of our pre-drywall list. We were able to finish framing the closet for the second upstairs bedroom (Note – Our children will not have walk in closets. Something tells me they will survive though. First world problems are so hard!).


We FINALLY removed the LAST window unit! I won’t miss that eye sore anymore.


When we removed the window unit and took down the bead board under neath, we found this lovely treat.


A bird’s nest! What every homeowner wants hidden underneath their window sill, right? 🙂 Kidding. I wasn’t really excited about it either, but I just cleaned up the mess and moved on to something else. In the crooked room, we also finally got around to moving this giant, metal, storage thing. It his been there since we bought the house. It was too big to get down the stairs (with the original wall there) so the homeowner left it. And we avoided it.

For 8 months.


Turns out it is not nearly as heavy as I thought it was. You know what is nice about slightly-steeper-than-normal-stairs? You can slide things down very easily!! Things like giant metal objects. I see children attempting to slide down stairs on their mattress in our future.

Dear Future Children. I am already onto your mattress slide scheming, and I will probably join you. Don’t tell your father. The End. 

Peace out metal foreign object.

Ryan and I wrapped up everything on our list Saturday morning and then spent the afternoon driving to Shoals (about an hour and a half one way) to check out some heart pine flooring I found on Craig’s list. I have yet to be burned by Craig’s list, but I know it happens, so I still get a little nervous about Craig’s list finds. I get even more nervous when it involves a chunk of time and a chunk of money.

When we pulled up the wood was loaded on the back of a trailer….


AND IT WAS AWESOME! It was just what I had hoped it would be, maybe even better! We borrowed a friend’s trailer (thanks John!) and carried home 500 square feet of heart pine for the kitchen (at $1 per square foot, also awesome!). I am so excited about it! Here is a close up.


I love it!!!! The only bad part about Saturday was the fact that it was cold. and snowing. and cold. AND SNOWING.


SNOW. IN ALABAMA! The day I have to load, haul, and unload 500 square feet of wood flooring, of course it snows.

Now…for what you have all been waiting for….


Drywall was delivered Monday! Have you ever seen drywall being delivered by that really awesome crane thing?! Um. It’s awesome and scary all at the same time.



There was so much drywall! 100 sheets of drywall! They even started hanging it the day it was delivered. WE. HAVE. WALLS. YO.

It freaks me out a little guys. Freaks me out. Have you ever watched drywall be delivered? Am I the only person who finds  a bird’s nest in their exterior walls? What about the flooring we picked up, what do you think??



Stair Update: Done(ish)

So the stairs are not done-done, but they are done enough that our building inspector can come back and check our work. That qualifies as done-ish, right? I’d say so!

Ryan and I spent last week working on providing proper head clearance for the stairs. Step  one was removing the tongue and grove planks.

stairs-before_How to give old stairs proper head clearance

With the tongue and groove planks gone and the hardwood taken up from the closet, we were able to see exactly what we were working with. After taking measurements we figured out we only needed to notch the stairs 12″ toward the kitchen to have head clearance. Once we had a plan, we put in place temporary wall supports to carry the load while we did the demo/removing-part-of-the-closet-floor-and-support part.


With temporary support in place (we used 2×6’s just because we had extra, you could use 2x4s), we removed part of the floor joist and replaced support where necessary. Here is a peek from under the stairs with the floor joists trimmed and new support in place.



From this view, you can see where we notched the closet inward.


From the top of the stairs, you can’t barely see a difference, but it is pretty noticeable when walking down the stairs. It is a amazing how much difference 12 inches makes!


With that part done, we headed upstairs to close up the area in the closet. It almost feels like having a tiny bench in the closet. Sorry I have no picture from the closet, only from downstairs.


Of course, Bella supervised us the entire time….


We secured everything with joist hangers and brackets. It was probably over kill, but we would rather go ahead and go a little over board instead of having our building inspector point things out to us.

Another few things our building inspector will hopefully be excited about…


New beams in the kitchen! Unlike the first round of beams, these are actually structural and will help keep our kitchen ceiling from gradually sagging (more, it already sags).  Wahoo! We are very lucky to have some pretty awesome friends who were willing to help with this task. I am useless on ladder and these suckers were H-E-A-V-Y! Thank you John, Wayne, Ron, and Steven for your help! I could not have held those above my head!!

For those wondering, my rustic beams will be going back up, but there is more work to do before that happens. Again, we have awesome friends willing to help! In fact, they were working on it this past Saturday, too. I will share progress soon! We have the best friends ever.



Frankly, I don’t have a lot of info about the beam raising progress but I get nervous just seeing people on ladders, even more so when they are holding heavy things! I just stayed out of the way. I didn’t even snap a picture! Blogger fail.

Stair-elluah Chorus

Great news, folks! So, when I mentioned that we failed our building inspection I also mentioned having to rebuild our stairs. Well, turns out we don’t have to! Praise the Lord! Ryan and I kept working on plans to redo the stairs, but it was just a smidge to big in all directions.


Luckily, our city has a home inspection system that allows you to log in online and see what the inspectors wrote. We were able to log in and see exactly what our inspector said about our home. Pretty sweet, right?

One of her notes was, “Decide if rebuilding the stairs.”


So, we called our building inspector the next day and talked to her about how our plans weren’t fitting as well as we hoped. She agreed to let us keep the stairs as is as long as we removed the closet or a portion of the closet to allow for proper head clearance. DEAL!!!

We have been working this week to take out a portion of the closet, and we are THRILLED to be removing a closet instead of removing a closet AND building new stairs. It is a huge relief. HUGE!

Any good news for you this new year? Ours if off to a pretty good start! 🙂



Holiday Fun: Christmas, Kitchen Beams, and Inspections

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of family, friends, food and fun! I hope Santa was nice to you as well 🙂

Holidays_saffellsWe were both blessed to be able to have time off work to hang out with friends and family. We were also blessed to get a butt-load of Lowe’s gift cards, house related gifts, and some other fun goodies! Ryan thought it would be funny to wrap my gifts in house-wrap this year.


Tori and Bella enjoyed have some extra nap and cuddle time as well.


They have a rough life, can’t you tell? Now, something pretty much as exciting as Christmas: Beams in the Kitchen! We spent the Saturday before Christmas working on beams. You can see my inspiration for vaulting the ceiling here. Ryan and I have been saving some of our salvaged lumber for this project and were very ready to get it off the floor, out of one of our numerous piles, and up to the ceiling. Here is our final before shot!


We started the process by deciding what height we wanted to mount the beams, which ended up being the highest spot we could reach while standing semi-safely on the ladder. Have I mentioned I don’t like being on ladders? Like, AT ALL?! I prefer to be safely planted on the ground or on a small step stool. Beyond that is outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully Dad was around that Saturday, so he took my spot on the ladder and I got to eye-ball for level! Hurray!

We had just enough old 2 x 4 lumber long enough to install beams (each beam being two 2 x 4s) on three of the six rafters. Ryan then went about determining the angle of the rafters so we could cut the end of the beams accordingly. With our angle determined, we used the miter saw to make our cut.



Because of the angle, the miter saw would not cut through the entire piece  of wood, so we just finished off the cut with a circular saw. We made the same cut on the other end of the lumber, and ta-da!


It’s a hot look, I know. It was cold that day, if you couldn’t tell from my apparel. With the beam ready to go up, I handed it off to Dad and Ryan to put up.


We used a level to make sure it was nice and straight. Sorry, no photo! The old 2 x 4s aren’t terribly heavy, but anytime you are holding something over your head it gets heavy fast! Ryan simply propped the level on top of the beam for me to read from below. With the beam level, they secured the beam with our framing nailer. We love our nail gun!


Actually that is just a hammer. Not our beloved nail gun, but the nail gun did get a work out that day! I think Dad even wants one now.


We decided to double up each 2 x 4 to create a “beefier” look. Beefier is totally a design term, right? 😉 We put the second 2 x 4 right next to first beam, nailed into the rafter and the beam so it was well supported. Wa-La!


The first and second beam – CHECK! Who needs Christmas presents when you have rustic beams installed in your kitchen?! Not me. Santa can come every year and just bring me some really cool, rustic beams! Haha. We were able to get up all three beams in one afternoon. For anyone wanting to add beams, it is a three person job: Two to hold and one to hand up tools and supplies/check for level.

We also took care of installing a new door knob and an actual dead bolt on the front door. None of our exterior doors when we bought the house had actual dead bolts! Scary, right?!


We decided to stick with door knobs instead of handle because 1) it is what was on the house when we bought it and all the original door hardware are knobs and 2) it is easier for little hands to open handles! With little people in our future (not right now – just to clarify- but one day, sorry Mom!) we decided that knobs would be better.

Now, let’s talk inspection. Here is where I kind of loose my Christmas cheer. As you may have read last week, we passed our HVAC, electrical, and gas inspection. The day after Christmas we passed our plumbing rough in inspection. Yay! Then, we had our building inspection the following Friday and we did NOT pass. *Womp womp* The building inspector inspects framing and the overall structure, and she gave us a list of things we need to do before moving on with finishing. We weren’t surprised by any means, just bummed. She just confirmed that we HAD to do a few things we weren’t exciting about spending time and money on…like redoing our entire set of stairs to bring them up to code.


We knew they weren’t up to code from the get-go, but we were going to leave them be if we could, just to save time and money. Thankfully our gift cards we got from Christmas covered the bulk of the material we had to buy to make changes to the stairs and some other things! If you bought us a Lowe’s giftcard for Christmas, congratulations, you are helping us replace the stairs! 🙂

I will share later about the other things we have to do. I hope you all have a very Happy (and safe)  New Year! I will talk to you guys next year!



I’ve been framed: Framing update part 2

Framing work has continued over the past week (yay!), so how about some photos, hm? If you said yes, just keep scrolling. If you said no, this blog may not be for you 🙂 You can see part one of framing progress here.

Dude. You may not be able to really tell in the photo above, BUT the crooked wall upstairs is significantly STRAIGHTER.  It’s not perfect, but by-golly it is a heck of a lot better than it was. I will try to get better photos to demonstrate the almost-straightness we have going on. Moving on.

NO WALL! I think I hear angels singing…oh wait…that’s me singing…not really angelically…

By far the most exciting progress this past week was removing the wall between the stairs.   We are continuing to make progress with more tedious and time consuming tasks, like scraping wall paper, pulling nails and removing vinyl flooring.  If you live in the North Alabama area and ever complain of boredom, just swing by our house. I can fix your boredom issue 🙂

What do you have going on this week? Our carpenter won’t be back until Wednesday this week, so there probably won’t be a lot of progress this week. I will be sure to keep you posted though!

*Construction loan update – we were supposed to close a week ago from Friday, but no go. The person who did the post work appraisal is not certified to do this type of appraisal. Grrr. The bank has to send another appraiser out before we move forward. BOO! I am ready to get this party started. 

Thanks for reading and for your encouragement on our journey!

Now Open: House tour!

Just a quick post announcing that I FINALLY actually posted before pictures under the Our Home in Progress page. It has only taken over three months to make that happen…..

Check it out. I was even a little shocked going through them. Those before pictures seem like such a long time ago!!!! Some of the pictures are actually from the MLS site, so the possessions belong to the previous owners.

I will be back this weekend with framing updates, woot woot!! Happy Friday 🙂

Teaser photo: Here is what’s happening

When I posted this teaser photo the other day, I could barely contain my excitement!! Ryan actually sent the photo to me during the day, and I almost squealed at work.

I might have let out a really soft squeal, quietly stomped my feet and performed a very small happy dance in my chair.

Ok, I did do that. No shame here.

Here’s the scoop – we had a carpenter/framer start on Monday (non-termite related). Can you say YAY?!?! We had originally hoped to schedule him to start on the 20th of this month, but due to his schedule (other projects and a vacation) he wanted to start two weeks early. However, we aren’t closing on the construction loan (aka source of money) until the 15th or 17th, assuming there are no hiccups as we proceed, so we were hesitant to say yes. We explained the situation to our carpenter, and he was fine with us paying all of labor cost at the end if we purchased all of the supplies up front.  DEAL! With that settled and contract signed, Ryan began frantically went to a local lumber yard to set up a homeowner line of credit, that way we could buy the supplies and have thirty days to make a payment. Not to worry (Mom), if there is a delay on the construction loan we have enough money in our wallets to cover the costs, but hopefully we won’t have to come out of pocket for it.

The carpenter will be here for two weeks and is doing all of the following:

  • Interior framing for new walls
  • resolving a few structural issues in the attic (old attic = not even close to code = kind of scary)
  • Creating two openings in a load bearing wall
  • Reinforcing floor joist on second floor under future master bath
  • Re-sizing windows in the kitchen and laundry area
  • Re-framing back exterior door to accommodate a 36″ door (it is currently 32″)
  • Vaulting the kitchen ceiling (Woot woot!)
  • Replacing the treads and risers on the stairs
  • Replace existing porch decking

I think that will keep him busy for 2 weeks, don’t you? I will actually be really impressed if he gets it all done in two weeks!!

When I got off work Monday and walked into the house, there were piles of stuff EVERYWHERE!

SO EXCITING! It was one of those, “Wow! This is really happening” moments for sure. Even though Ryan and I were both excited, Bella and Tori seemed less than impressed.

I am really excited to see how quickly work progresses from here. It’s crazy, just over the course of two days so much has happened! It is amazing how much more is accomplished when someone is working on your house 8 hours a day, everyday! Ha.

So yea, that’s the big news for the week – Framing. Here is a peak of our new entry area for those who might be curious.

Okay, so maybe you can’t imagine it yet, but it is going to be pretty awesome, slowly but surely.

Lastly, construction loan update – the appraiser is coming to walk through the house today with Ryan to put together the post work appraisal. This is the last hurdle in the construction loan process!! The post work appraisal must be higher or equal to the amount we are borrowing plus the amount we payed for the house. Say a prayer, cross your fingers, find a four leaf clover, pet your lucky rabbit foot and whatever else you do when you want things to go smoothly!

What do you have going on this week? Have you ever walked into your living room to find piles and piles of lumber? Do your dogs not share your excitement for home improvement? Bella is still interested, but Tori would rather just take a nap 🙂

Thanks for reading.


And The Best Grandparents’ Award goes to….

MINE. That’s who.  Let’s meet them, shall we?

My Grandma

My Papa

They VOLUNTEERED to come scrape wall paper! I’m not sure if Grandma was completely serious at first, but be warned – if you volunteer to help us work on the house WE WILL take you up on it, sooner rather than later 🙂

Grandma and Papa spent half of Saturday scraping off four or five layers of wall paper in the future living room.

They definitely made progress on the wall paper situation. Look! That’s a whole five feet of wall with no wall paper. Yea!!!

Lots more to go! While my grandparents scraped wall paper, Ryan and I got busy taking down the wall between the stairs. I let Dad take over for me when my parents got there. Ya’ll, on Saturday my Dad morphed into some kind of crazy demolition BEAST. For real. He was like taking down walls with his bare hands. There was wood flying left and right. Coal dust galore. It was pretty awesome to watch.

Here are the stairs, one last time, before demo began.

Isn’t that black plastic covering just lovely? I know you are all jealous. It’s ok.

Let me tell you one more thing before we jump into stair wall demo. We were told before buying the house that the wall between the stairs was added after the house was built and was built so it sits on top of the stairs. Keep that  in mind as we go through the next photos, k?

Stair wall demo began with a lot of excitement, but was dampened when we realized the wall was NOT built on top of the stairs, but thru them. Kind of a bummer. Actually, not kind of. It was a bummer. Add fixing to the stairs to our growing list of things to do 🙂

I’m going to call this the stair’s glamour shot. You can see how wide the stairs will be now that the wall is gone…69″ wide if you would like to know. Much better than the previous 30″ per stair, hmm? (yes)

After the stairs, Dad took on one of the fireplaces. This fireplace we plan to expose the entire brick fireplace all the way around. The wall will be removed, so all that’s left is a walk around fireplace. Last chance to view the fireplace before Dad attacks!

Here is where things start to get a little scary.

Eek!! The inside of the fireplace was not nearly was pretty as we were hoping for. We had no idea what the inside would look like with the wall down, but we are optimist 🙂

Don’t even get me started on the coal dust.

The brick was as pretty as I hoped though! The view from the future dining room into living room was pretty awesome.

Ok, so it’s slowly working its way towards awesome. Baby steps. Lots of progress for one Saturday. Thank you to my family helping out! Also, thank you to anyone and every one who is supporting our adventure! We are excited to be sharing it with you all.

What did you do this weekend? Any demo action? Fireplace drama? Peace and quiet? 🙂