Flooring: making the best of what’s already there

Our new house had floating floorboards made of some blondish-coloured wood veneer. They looked cheap and brought about a vehemence rarely seen in my mild-mannered Cheap Geek–’I hate these floors’, was pretty much the first thing he said when we first inspected the house. So while keeping the floating floorboards was the most economical and environmental option, they had to go.

According to Randy Florke, author of Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. (Create A Beautiful Home), reclaimed wood, bamboo, cork, linoleum, marmoleum, recycled rubber, or a lick of paint are all green flooring alternatives. We chose to work with what was underneath the floating floorboards as it was cost-effective, environmentally sound* as well as the the most aesthetically pleasing. During the pre-purchase inspections, my dad had a look under the house and spotted the hardwood floors. When we pulled up the underlay, we were rewarded with this:

hardwood floors (untreated)

Hardwood floors hidden under carpet, lino, and floating boards for nearly 50 years.

We used Livos Kunos natural oil sealer with a walnut stain to protect the floor and bring out the grain of the wood. Livos uses food-grade natural oils and claims that their products are ‘biologically degradable, sustainable…and harmless, even in direct contact with humans, animals and plants’. Hopefully, this translates to better indoor air quality, something that may be important later on when our improvements make the house ‘less leaky’.

Livos Kunos natural oil sealer also don’t require re-sanding on reapplication, which is an added bonus. No need to waste more time/money/energy on sanding: a few drops of Livos and a buff with a rag is all that is required.

Our sand and polisher was reluctant to use Livos as she was not familiar with the brand, so we ended up doing much of the application and buffing ourselves**.

Applying Livos sealer to prepped floors

Dad applies the Livos with a paint roller.

The DIY process is fairly easy, requiring mostly elbow grease and some basic tools. Three coats are needed and each coat takes 24-48 hours to dry. The smell of the drying sealer reminds me of pine tar or menthol; it’s much more bearable than some of the varnishes and sealers I’ve used in the past.

Three coats have resulted in beautifully stained floors. There is a slight sheen on the surface but unlike polyurethane, oil sealers like Livos do not leave a shiny film on the floor. The floor feels silky to touch: smooth with a touch of resistance.

Livos Kunos natural oil sealer with walnut stain on Victorian Ash floors

Results after 3 coats of Livos Kunos natural oil sealer (walnut stain).

The floors take 4 to 6 weeks to cure but we’ve already moved in, giving them just a little bit more TLC than usual.


* ‘Before I tear up any old flooring, though, I try to make the best of what’s already there. If a hardwood floor can be refinished, stained, or even painted, that’s far preferable to tearing it up and adding refuse to the nearest landfill.’ (Randy Florke, via Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. (Create a Beautiful Home))

**The sand and polisher ended up giving us a discount for doing some of the work for her.

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End of an era

Three years have past since my first mustbethrifty post. In my quest to save money and resources, I’ve done things my pre-mortgage self never considered doing: getting multiple quotes, researching products, putting up with housemates, clothes and food swapping, scavenging and borrowing, mending and altering. I’ve finally learnt how to become comfortable with my mortgage.

Now, after nearly five years with my first mortgage, I am about to sign up on a second mortgage, this time hand-in-hand with Cheap Geek. We will be moving out and ‘living the dream’ of house and land (and chickens).Putting on a sold sticker

I’m really happy with the house we’ve bought. It has ‘good bones’. Quiet location with school and public transport options? Tick. Plenty of north-facing living space and minimal exposure to the harsh western sun? Tick. The house also has a small footprint, making it easier to maintain and/or improve. However, there’s still enough room in the house and in the garden for our family to grow.

Instead of writing about money, I’m shifting this blog’s focus onto the new house. Both Cheap Geek and I have a passion for grand designs of the sustainable kind. This doesn’t mean we’re going to knock down what we already have; we’re going to work on improving the new house one double-glazed window pane at a time. Working towards a more water and energy efficient house will mean smaller utilities bills and hopefully a higher resale/rental value.

We could have just got on with renovating. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to reflect on things we have done or about to do. Plus, according to Michael Mobbs, there’s very little literature out there about energy-conserving building design. Even my anecdotal observations will be a welcome addition to the patchy resources out there.

So, here it goes.

 

 

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Hol(e)y soles!

These boots have suffered much abuse over the years and now they have hol(e)y soles, which aren’t great in the wet winter weather.

I didn’t want to throw them out, however, since they cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Plus they’re super comfy and play nice with most outfits.

Cheap Geek spends a fortune on his work shoes. In order to extend the life of his footwear, he kits up every new purchase with Topy soles. Continue reading

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The best cookbook I’ll ever own

Who doesn’t love a good cookbook? Big and bold with page after page of beautifully plated food, they’re a feast for the eyes of the food-obsessed.

Last time I checked, however, ‘oohing and aahing’ over a photograph of Gelato Messina’s rum baba gelato or Annabel Langbein’s slow-roast lamb with herb crust does not constitute as cooking, and a cookbook that doesn’t inspire a meal belongs on a coffee table, not the kitchen bench.

Most titles I own have a handful of bookmarked recipes. Continue reading

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Consolidating debt with the home loan

Three years ago, I wrote a post on switching to a low-interest credit card and or consolidating the credit card debt in the home loan. I said I’d avoid redraw at all costs but never explained the reasons why. Continue reading

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2014’s federal budget: what did you expect?

On Tuesday, I came home to this:

While there are a handful of budget ‘winners’, namely defence, infrastructure, medical research, mining (via ABC), as well as ballerinas and school chaplaincy (via SMH), the rest of us have just had our tax breaks knocked out from under us. Continue reading

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My shop on Etsy

This gallery contains 3 photos.

My interview with Grace has inspired me to sell some of my vintage collection on Etsy. Back in the days of pov-uni-studentdom, I used to sell unwanted books and CDs on eBay (I even made a profit when I sold … Continue reading

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