July 23, 2009

The Two Hundred Dollar Hardwood Floor

This is our third home purchase and, as I've said, the third house that we've needed to renovate inside and out. We're either gluttons for punishment or we like this gig. I think the latter. Over the years we;ve become pretty good at renovating on a tight budget. With our first house we had about $50 to spare a month for renovation. And with that we painted every room, refinished the floors, resurfaced the cabinets, put in new countertops, laid new grass, build a fence, a pergola and a gravel and brick patio, and painted the exterior of the little house, all in about a year. It was a lot of work because we did everything ourselves and the results weren't perfect, but it was a big improvement and we loved it. I became a disciple of freecycle and craigslist, particularly the free section and we were able to get alot of what we needed for not much money.

In Portland we once again had a tight budget and a house sadly in need of some love. Portland is a mecca for that kind of thing. The garbage authority produces recycled paint in an array of colors for something like $5 a gallon, craigslist has dozens of free postings a day, maybe even hundreds. We dug plants out of gardens that were being relandscaped and transplanted them into our yard. We tore down and old fence to build our first chicken coop for absolutly nothing (we even got the nails for free). It became a game, how much work could we do on the house for next to nothing?

Up until last week, my best find was the countertop at the first house. The bowling ally was being demolished and I spotted an add for cut to length wooden lanes for $6 a linier foot. We picked out a section with the little arrows inlaid in walnut and hauled it home in the back of our trusty 1980's Landcruiser, Ramona. After some stripping, sanding and refinishing we manhandled it into the kitchen and onto the cabinets where it got comments from everyone who stopped by. I thought nothing would top that. cheap, cool, and just perfect. But then I was cruising the Habitat store last week when I spotted two pallets of hardwood flooring. Our new house has hardwoods in every room but the kitchen which was covered with an almost but not quite funky cool linolium from the 60's. Even if it had been the right color though we would have had to remove it due to the wall removal/kitchen butting into the dining room plan. I wished for hardwoods, but knew that wasn't in the budget. i had almsot resigned myself to linoliaum or maybe if I coudl find it at a good price, laminet,w hen I found the flooring at Habitat. One of the boards had $75 scrawled on a piece of masking tape but the other pallet had no tag. When I asked the price of the two together they told me people had been taking just a board or two and so they could give them both to me for $100. Sold.

When I brought them home I foudn that they matched, almost perfectly, the flooring that was already in the house. And after two nights with a compressor powered floor nailer and some serious cleaning, we have a beautiful new hardwood floor, and I have a new "best cheap renovation find."