Monday, March 17, 2014

Hallway Floor & Redo: Part 1

Back in the fall, I hinted at a project I was working on.  Stage one is finished and this spring/early summer I will begin stage two.  

When we bought our house, 9 years ago, the upstairs hallway floor and "office" (now a nursery) was painted light blue.  So was the trim.  The walls were painted a pale, peachy-pink.  A couple years after moving in, I stripped the painted floor in the office and it came out nicely.  It was a ton of work but I was very pleased with the results. Jamey put a clear coat of stain on it for me to finish it off.  It was a smaller area than the hallway and the reason why I tried my hand at it first.  When I was done, I was so sick of the project that I couldn't quite imagine tackling the hallway floor so soon and put it off for another day.

Years and years passed (about 6 of them) and while I lamented the remaining painted floor (and the color, in general), I did what I normally do- I argued with myself.  I really want to change this.  You don't need to change it. You're right, I don't.  A couple weeks or months pass.  It's time to do something about this. Who's going to do it? You certainly don't have time.  Do you want to pay someone to do it?  Of course not- that would be expensive and we really don't want to spend money.  It functions just fine as a floor, right? Right.  So, we'll leave it the same. Yep.  A couple more months pass and the same arguments happen over and over again.

Finally, I guess I just snapped.  I still had some SOY-Gel left over from the office project down in the basement and decided to do a test spot.  I knew that all the motivation I needed to get this project restarted would come in just a glimpse of what was underneath- and I was right. The wood was lovely- though different than in the office (the office was an addition- this floor was original).  It had some reddish brown stain on it that the stripper didn't take off- but the grain was still visible and I really liked the color.  That's all I needed.  I launched into the project with every free moment.

As I got further into the center of the floor, I realized that whoever used that reddish brown stain only used it around the edges- I imagine there was a throw rug at the end of the hall and a runner down the hallway. Initially I was bothered by this and while I continued to work, I kept working it over in my mind, trying to determine how we could take care of it.

A brief explanation of how Soy Gel works: A thick layer of gel is spread on the painted surface using a paint brush and then is covered with wax paper or saran wrap or freezer paper (to keep it from drying out before it can do it's work).

After a half hour or so a section can be tested to see how many layers of paint come up.  If left on longer, more will come up.  It is then scraped off.

If your floor is very old with many cracks and crevices, a wire brush can be used to remove the paint from the crevices.  Warm water and a rag can be used to wipe the surface clean to inspect for more bits of paint that need removing.  There were 5 layers of paint (several different shades of brown included) on this 100 + year-old floor.  I used rubber gloves the whole time.

I worked in stages within my reach.  We needed access to the hallway in the evenings (so we could all go to bed).  If the wood wasn't completely dry, I used additional pieces of wax paper as stepping stones for us to walk on.

When I was through, we had a two-toned hallway with a dull (lack of) finish.  But the floor paint was no more and I had done it myself.  I felt liberated.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Pin It


  1. I'm impressed! It looks great. Although I have a feeling it took a lot more work than it seems like from your post. I have a lot of 100+ yr/old wood to strip in our farm house here. Is that soy stripper less caustic than the regular paint stripper?

  2. I'm impressed!! Can't wait to see part 2. I had no idea how paint was stripped, quite interesting.

  3. Whadda lotta work! Plus having the whole shebang right smack in the middle of a walkway that everyone has to use on a daily basis. Oy. But plenty of kudos to you for the magnificent start. Looking forward to Part 2.

  4. wow, what a process! I'm in the middle of repainting our steps (nice colors, I promise!) and I have to do it stages so we can use the stairs, too. I like the glimpse of your interior monologue. I have that, too.


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