02 February 2009

Hardwood floor patch work and fungus among us

One of our recent ongoing projects (that has taken an embarrassing number of trips to Lowe's and Home Depot) has been to finish the oak hardwood floor that had been covered by the black monster. We knew it was going to be a challenge to match the unfinished hardwood area, which is about 2' by 6', to the 30-year-old stained floors but we aimed for decent rather than perfection knowing that the new hearth pad would cover a small portion it and that there would be shadows in this area from the chimney and glow and flicker of the new woodstove.

We started out with this:

The unfinished portion of the floor behind this patch is where the old hearth was located and the new hearth will cover this area again as well as extending a few inches into the hardwood area that we are finishing.

First, Kevin bought an orbital sander to sand down the area. It proved to be not the right tool for the job - yet. So we rented another type of sander, an edge sander, that finished the job surprisingly quickly. He passed over the area three times with coarse to finer grit sandpaper (I think we used 50, 80 and 120). Once the rough work was done, then the orbital sander was finally needed for the finest sanding of 220.

Kev's orbital sander hooks up to the vacuum cleaner to avoid making the messes that are typical when sanding. Unfortunately, he decided to unhook the vacuum for his final pass, sending a fine sawdust into the air that took many hours to settle - all over my kitchen and dining room and everywhere else on the first floor. I don't think he'll use it in the house again without the vacuum attachment!

Kev is the power tool guy and I do usually much of the rest. I cleaned the area thoroughly with my homemade tack rag (water, paint thinner and varnish solution) and dusted it many times over, then tested our stain samples and let them dry before deciding which one was the closest match. Then I stained the area with two coats, leaving the window open and fan on and evacuating the area for a few hours due to the horrible smell. I am very thankful to the state of California for having such strict labeling requirements - otherwise I wouldn't have know that these wood stains contain known teratogens and mutagens and might not have taken the necessary precautions of protecting my hands and using a respirator (teratogens cause defects in developing embryos and fetuses while mutagens change the DNA in your cells- neither would be desirable materials for a pregnant woman to handle!).

First coat of wood stain. I chose to use a bar rag to soak it up and wipe it off since we have many of these for other chores and having to throw away some of the really used up ones is not a big deal.

The section of floor after two coats. No, it's not perfect but it's pretty close and we hope over time will blend in better.

After a 6 hour drying time I applied the first coat of polyurethane finish. I still have to sand again with the 220 grit paper on the orbital sander before applying the second and third coats, but then our new "floor" will be ready for the hearth pad we are picking up this weekend and for the Heritage soapstone woodstove that arrives on the 9th. We'll be ready to enjoy some family time by the fire for the next snowstorm.

In the mold department, two of our samples were positive. One of the results was not a surprise, since the plate was in the utility room which shares a wall with the bathroom and has openings through the bathroom wall where pipes are plumbed. But the other positive result was an airborne test from quite some distance away from the bathroom on the staircase landing. Kevin pointed out that the air handler for the house is in the utility room so chances are pretty good that we've got spores all over the house. Fortunately, without the proper conditions these new spores will not be able to find a place to grow and multiply. It helps that we've had the new concrete floor laid in the basement because they cannot grow on this inorganic substrate, but we're going to have to be surgeons when it comes to repairing the bathroom - "cut wide and deep" is the surgical motto when it comes to biopsying any abnormal tissue growth. I've sent one of the samples in to a laboratory for evaluation. I suppose it's the scientist in me that needs to know what genus we are dealing with - for eradication and for health reasons.

As my mentor in college used to say whenever we had a contaminated plate in the tissue culture lab - "There's fungus among us!" I sealed off the plate with electrical tape to prevent further contamination and to prepare the sample for shipping to the lab for identification. Now we wait and hope the result is a mold that is not resistant to chlorine.

1 comment:

Trægulve said...

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