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The DIY floor

The sanding machine must have been made in the 30s. It weighed a thousand tons and took a couple of feet of sandpaper at a time. Getting it upstairs was a feat unto itself. As it started up, smoke billowed out the side and the new wood floor shook with the vibrations.

Never having used such a machine before, Sean decided to start in the small room just in case he made any mistakes. He had been struggling to push the machine around the floor for 1/2 an hour when suddenly the handle broke off and the sander catapulted its way across the room and punched a fist-size hole in the newly painted wall. Hot and sweating from the heat and exhaustion, my husband picked up his phone.


I got the call while I was in the city. "Please, can I hire someone for this?"

We were a few months into building the cottage. We had tried to save money by doing all the finishing ourselves. We told the contractor to complete up to the drywall mudding and then we would do the painting, tiling, flooring, and kitchen cabinets. And we were doing a pretty good job of it. Until this hot day in August.

As we were trying to make eco-friendly choices for our new living space, we decided to use reclaimed barn boards for the flooring. Southern Ontario is full of barns that have been abandoned and West Lincoln Barnboards, a local business - has been buying up the wood, plaining it down, and reselling it for flooring and furniture.

Of course, we couldn't afford the gorgeous oak boards, so we went with Hemlock. It looks a lot like knotty pine but has a harder surface. The boards were already cut for tongue and groove installation and they came in many different widths and lengths. Installing them was like a big jigsaw puzzle.



It looked incredible when it went down.



And then it looked even better when we hired a pro to sand it down and stain it.

Some times you just have to know when to give in. Sometimes, hiring a professional is worth far more than the time and energy it takes to learn something new.


Would I do reclaimed barn boards for flooring again? Absolutely, would I do Hemlock. Absolutely not.


I call our floor the sock killer. While the surface of hemlock is hard, the edges are very splintery. Over time with rolling office chairs and dog claws, the surface has broken up. Slippers are mandatory.

But it has a story to tell. Not everything has to be perfect or instagramable, and a little wear and tear can give things character.


Trust me, after 20 years, this floor has A LOT of character. :)




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