Exposing the floorboards

Exposing the floorboards

We have no carpet in the downstairs of our house, and thank god because the amount of mud that gets dragged through the house on pushchair wheels is ridiculous. We’re also in the Suffolk countryside so there’s often a bit of welly slinging down our hallway.

Upstairs we have carpet in all of the bedrooms, it was laid by the previous owners, it’s pretty neutral and in relatively good condition. Our bedroom is a very large sunny warm room and we decided it might be a good idea to rip up the carpet to modernise the feel of the room.

Before pulling up the carpet

The carpet in our bedroom had gotten quite stained from me squirting foundation across the room or a morning coffee being spilt. We had no idea what the state of the floorboards would be in underneath. We tried peeling up a corner to check but it was really tricky to tell. It was all or nothing, so we took the gamble.

Floorboards before sanding

After levering up the carpet and stripping it back, it revealed the best floorboards we could’ve hoped for. A little splattered with paint from the 70’s and pretty dusty, but completely restorable.

First job was making sure all of the carpet grips, nails and any odd screw sticking up was either hammered down flat or pulled out. It’s really important to ensure the floor is completely smooth and free of snags before you begin the sanding process. Our room is pretty large so we decided it would make the job easier if we hired a sander. We hired ours from our local hardware store and it was £100 for the day. Make sure you’re completely ready to start the sanding on the day you hire it, it takes a lot longer than you think, we were sanding right up until half an hour before it had to be returned!

First we gave the floor a course sandpaper to get all the major flaws and staining off. We then gave it a softer sand afterwards to smooth it over. We actually hired two styles of sanders. An upright one to do all the large areas and then a small hand-held sander to get into the corners.

After sanding

Once the sanding is complete give the room a good hoover. You don’t want to be sealing in any dust or loose wood when you start the varnishing process.

Once the floor is prepped, next is the fun bit of staining. Obviously you can use whichever shade of varnish or paint that you prefer. Because it’s such a sunny room, we wanted a warm oak tone but without too much red. Initially it seemed to go on much darker but dried slightly lighter. We begun in the furthest corner of the room and worked our way back towards the door. Don’t paint yourself into a corner! Once this had dried we applied a second coat.

We actually had to varnish in segments as we still had all of our furniture in the room. We would paint the clear area and once dry, move the furniture over and paint the next section. It’s a bit time-consuming and much easier to just remove all of the furniture but we just couldn’t be arsed!

Floor Sanding

The varnish we used was from B&Q Colours range in the shade Oak however they seem to have discontinued this. I’d say the closest would be Ronseal Medium Oak. We applied it using a small firm paintbrush.

The process took around 3 days and cost £120.

The positives of exposing the floorboards…

  • Easy to keep clean
  • Spills mop up easily
  • Always looks fresh
  • Airs the room better (we now get no condensation in the winter)

The negatives…

  • It’s a little cooler in the winter, but nothing a nice rug won’t sort out.
  • It’s noisier, you’ll never realise how creaky your floor is until you expose the floorboards.
  • If you have young children, they will post your loose change through the gaps in the boards.
  • You will hold your breath every time you drop an earring and pray it doesn’t go through the gaps!

We love our exposed flooring and prefer it to the carpet. We are tempted to do this in all of the bedrooms but while our daughter is young and the sound of spilling Lego is earth shattering, I think we will stick to carpet for the time being.

Let us know if you decide to go ahead and get exposing!!


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