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Why renovating a house is a never ending story of joy

Help! Look what the painters did to my floor! I have spent all day trying to save it but I admit defeat. You can see more of the carnage on my page. Perhaps you can help with suggestions on improving this sorry state of affairs? My suggestion is a jam and cream donut.

Reader Comments (37)

Oh, I have no idea what to do with it.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I think you will have to let it dry, sand it down (preferably with an orbital sander) and try and match a stain to the existing un-damaged cedar. Good luck!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlittledragon

If you head over to my page (click on the link in the post or on the tab at the top that says Jo's page) you'll see it is a much, much bigger problem than just these two photos ... much, MUCH bigger :( If only I could just sand and restain a few spots.

11 Dec 2010 | Registered Commentermidcenturyjo

I wish I had something constructive to say, but I don't. Just really feeling for you, what a horrible experience. I'd also suggest more jam and cream donuts! Chin up, I know you're gutted right now but it will get better. xx

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Oh, that is horrible. I think it's either re-finishing your entire floor or painting it. That really isn't what you wanted to deal with, is it? I had something similar happen once to brand new hardwood. We ended up replacing part of it.
Donuts. A whole box :)

I always wonder about contractors when that kind of thing happens. Did they say I'm sorry, offer to pay for the repair, what?

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTonia

Honastly.... after looking at the entire photos I am speechless! The only idea I would have is to get a professionaly "grinding" and let them pay for it. They should have an insurance to cover the costs.
Of course the wood will not get thicker with every grinding you do - but at least it will look nice again afterwards. Good luck!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatharina

i'm so sorry...it's truly heartbreaking...i would not sand the floors, but would instead paint it and investigate the possibility of putting a wax finish on top, hopefully recreating a bit of the aged look...the patina may be gone, but you can still retain the texture and imperfection of the wood...hope this helps...best to you and thank you for providing such a wonderful site and inspiration to me everyday!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commentershahara

That is by far the WORST job I have ever seen!! Children can be neater than that! They shouldn't be in business with that complete lack of care for the property they are working on. I'd be reporting them...and thankful for the blogger in you, you've got photographic evidence of the horror! And I completely agree with other readers - whatever you have done to fix it is coming from THEIR pockets...you shouldn't have to pay a cent!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKeely

My heart breaks for you, again. And this time, I want to stomp some painter's um, brushes, too. (Donuts? Holy canoli, donuts are not enough!)
I don't suppose the cowboys were licensed or bonded or anything crazy like that, where you could get them. legally, to replace and repair? I'm thinking not because you didn't mention it.
OK, listen, it all works out in the end. Lemons = lemonaid, right?
You can do it. We're all wishing you the best, so of course you can do it.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla

I don't mean to add salt to the wound but -why didn't they cover the floors with the dropcloth?? (such simple step and every painter should do it) That is why it's so important to hire a professional :-/.
I am really sorry for what they have caused, I am sure you are very upset and I don't blame you. I hope you have a contract in place and theywill stand behind their work, in which case I would have them pay for refinishing the floors. I am not sure what your intent was for the floors - if you wanted them to be original and not touch them- but refinishing floors is fairly easy (if you were going to do it anyway then even better). They just sand everything down and stain etc (even match esisting floors- and they should look beautiful.
Good luck. My Best!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenteredyta

I am so sorry. I agree with another poster -- the painters should offer to pay for refinishing. If the whole floor needs to be redone as a result of this carnage, so be it. Best of luck. The doughnut sounds lovely. xoxo

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRLG

Try Goof Off. It smells potent - like a really strong white board marker. But it take paint off anything. We used it on one of our floors when we pulled up carpet and weren't ready to refinish it. There was paint all over the floor. But the Goof Off took the paint off without damaging the floor underneath. Eventually we refinished the floor but it didn't look awful in the meantime.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi


WHYYYY DID YOU CLEAN THIS UP???? Get on the phone right now and tell them what for!!!!! sue the *&^% out of them! (hoping these aren't friends of yours and actual professionals you can hold responsible for their actions)

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlillie

Ok, strong drink, deep breath, tissue dab and toss. This sucks but it's fixable.

Here we go - as an owner of an 1894 that was rented for nearly 40 years before I rescued it, here's your 2 phased approach.

Phase 1 - the damage assessment and repair. Call a reputable paints shop and some manufacturers (if possible, the maker of the paint schmeared on your floor). There is a product in the US (besides goof off, which i never found great) that will remove paint but *not the finish of the wood*! You need to find one locally, it exists. That's the first step.

Second, you might was to consider screening the floors, which is less invasive but will remove your patina. However, it looks like there is already water damage and that doesn't stain up well (if you choose not to screen, then use a porosity equaliser before touch up staining to avoid a dark spots where the dry wood inhales the stain (this is similar to dying hair, from what I understand).

Phase 2 - this is the legal part. You need to learn the local laws and contractual expectations. Talk to the local business bureau, a barrister, and see if there's an Angie's list sort of thing in Oz (if not, start one ;). This will take some time and obv you are keen to move ahead. Don't let the ball drop here.

Preventative measures - learn about hiring contractors, watch the trades on other jobs and research. It is easy to just hire out jobs but this is your house, and not everyone cares as much as you do. And, from someone who, at 25 (and barely 120 pounds soaking wet) with no knowledge of how to use a drill, has learned nearly all of the trades (good to hire out when over your head but best to know *what* they are supposed to do that you choose not to do) - I can tell you, 11 years later, the best work and my favorite parts were all DIY. And you will get a thrill and a laugh many times over, just seeing your work for years to come.

All best, and good luck!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterg

it's hard to see from just these images but you may not be completely screwed. 2 thoughts. have they removed existing paint/finish or it is just paint added onto the surface of the historical floor? if they have removed existing paint then you are in a spot. if it's only new paint on the old floor than it is fixable. remember that they removed hundreds of years of badness from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There is a chemistry solution for every chemistry problem. You need to find a solvent that will break down the new paint w/o harming the finish below. To do this you need to know the new paint and a good guess at what is below. Then apply the proper solution and remove the unwanted new paint and hope the floor below is as before. Do not do this with an abrasive since that will harm the original floor.

If they removed paint/finish from the historical paint you can still trick yourself into believing that it is fixed. Finishes like this that have the "hand of history" look to them are irregular but lovely like the way things grow in a garden. You need to 'fix' but in a random sort of way that does not show your hand/application. Do your best job removing the unwanted paint and then do patches of repair w/o the distinctive marks of where you stopped and started. This probably sounds a little vague but something as big as a floor is too big for your eye to take in all at once and you may be pleasantly surprised how the new floor will have a new history and a new warmth, with you being the author.

Goof Off is the trick.... I have remedied many a "goof" at my house.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

I have no suggestions, only sympathy. You waited so long for this house, and I'm really really sorry this has happened.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterloolah

1st i would hire an attorney and sue to pay for the repairs that you'll need. you're either going to have to just paint the floors or refinish them completely. and the so-called painters should pay!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra keller

Dear Jo, the laughs are just beggining,you may not believe it now but this may be a party winner in years to come.
Take a deep breath and step back and lets see, we have delayed moving in, filthy dirty, damp walls,and the Irish painters from hell.Not bad for a renovations start But it will get better, it has taken 150 years to get in this condition so you tell your tradies they are dealing with an old girl[the house i mean] and they need to be GENTLE or else she will fight back .

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeverley

That's disgraceful. You should withhold payment and report them to their Painter's Association.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjlonit

OIL IT!!!!

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenterelena

wow, what are you waiting for? call an attorney and sue the s#!t out of them - totally unacceptable.

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremily

ouch. that looks heartbreaking. unfortunately, the patina may be lost forever. remember to keep it in perspective, it is just a floor and there are worse things that happen in life. but you should be going after the contractor/painters for reconciliation. if they destroyed your antique floors - they should pay to repair or replace them (obviously they should pay someone qualified to do this since they suck!). it is only fair that they offer you some sort of financial compensation or trade solution. have you tried to deal with them yet?

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered Commentersamantha

I remember a post you did some time back on painted white floors and I was really struck by how pretty they were-some that appeared to even have a patina and thickness to them. Perhaps this would be something you could consider?

11 Dec 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMAZ

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