Installing a Wood Floor Over a Sub Floor

The Fantastic Floor

When choosing something big for my home, I will inevitably go on a journey. One that takes me down a secluded winding road, through a scary forest, under a barbed wire fence, over a stream of lava, past a dragon, to a place called Crazy Town.

This is a place where a lack of funds is not as important as me getting exactly what I want. I decide that, for whatever reason, a normal “whatever it is” will not suffice in my Crappy House. I convince myself that I’m only going to buy/do/install this one time, so I pretend I’m rich and plan accordingly. This is where my procrastination actually does me some good. Since I wait soooo long to pull the trigger on anything, it gives me time to see all of the sights in Crazy Town, meet the locals, get bored, buy the t-shirt, and then head back to Normalville where things are reasonable and sane.

My Latest Trip to Crazy Town

When we last discussed my floor, I had decided on Brazilian walnut. What I really wanted was American walnut, but it’s too soft. Brazilian walnut is very hard. But it’s also kind of orange. And also expensive. But I’m only installing a wood floor once, right? So I’ll just buy expensive Brazilian walnut, stain it a walnutty brown with blue undertones to kill the orange overtones and call it a four thousand dollar day. Ahh, it feels good to finally make a decision!

And that’s how I found myself in Crazy Town.

After a lengthy stay, I started on the trip back, berating myself the whole way. Here’s how that went: “Are you freaking insane, woman? You don’t need Brazilian walnut in your stupid, crappy house. Buy oak like 90% of the population and stain it walnut, you psychopath. Use the thousands you save to put towards that kitchen that you don’t have. Aren’t you tired of Hot Pockets?”

And now we’re all caught up.

It’s Finally Time to Install My Floor!

Here’s a reminder of what I’ve been living with for the last few years.

That there is the greatest sub floor ever installed. You can read about that here, but we’re going to move quickly now, so don’t lose focus.

Here are some actual before shots that I took especially for this post, especially for you:

Egor was so ready.

Here are some pics of the installation:

This is 2.25″ wide white oak in what they call “#1 common“. That just means it’s got more character in the grain. We like character.

I forgot to mention I did not install this floor. And, honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. It would have taken me forever and, as it was, Egor and I were displaced from my crappy house for 10 days while this was done. My flooring guy was my friend Frank from F&D Floors. He’s bringing sexy back. Obviously.

Picking a Stain Color

He told me I should pick 2 or 3 stains and he’d get samples to make swatches for me to choose from. So, naturally, I picked 6.

You would think the walnut would look like walnut, but, to me, it did not. Jacobean and Coffee were nice, but didn’t have enough life and Spice was too orange. I knew in my head exactly what color I wanted. Luckily, Antique Brown was perfect. Color selection literally took five minutes. And most of that time was making the swatches. Sometimes I don’t even need to go to Crazy Town to make a decision.

The floor only needed one coat of stain. This is how it looked after that:

Kinda scary. I felt it was a bit blotchy, but Frank assured me that all floors look like crap before the poly. I chose satin finish, oil based poly. Frank did 3 coats, screening in between each. I’m not sure what exactly that is, but it makes the floor look like this:

Which is also scary. But Frank is a professional. I trusted him. (OK, no, not really. Control freak that I am, I pretty much doubted him the whole way through. He’s used to me though. He’s actually the one who gave me a lift back from my trip to Crazy Town.)

The After Pictures

I know you’re only here for the after pics. Here you go…

Since I took the curtains down for the install, I figured it would be a good time to alter them. (Remember I hung them backwards because I liked that side better?) A month and a half has gone by and I still haven’t gotten around to it, so you get an after picture with no curtains. (And no rugs, obviously. Duh.)

This room is almost done, except for the base molding and the doors. My house is definitely starting to look very not crappy. On the inside, anyway. Outside, it looks like the house is in foreclosure, but we’ll get to that in another post. See you in two months!

(Just kiddin. I’m reeeeeally gonna try to post much sooner. I swear! Don’t leave me…)

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  • Judy

    In the history of floors there has never been a better one than this!
    And even Egor’s cool grey provides a counterpoint to the warm tones.
    Fabulous floor!

    • My Crappy House

      You know, I think I’ve totally designed my decor around Egor. Even my couch matches his eyes. Thanks for the compliment! I kind of agree

  • Barbara H.

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I’m glad you saved what was left of your sanity after Crazy Town to have Frank install the floor. Great after pictures! You’re right – the house is definitely less crappy. Speaking of outside, how’s the fig tree? Were you able to make it completely gone?

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you! You know, I don’t know what’s up with the fig tree. It did try to make a comeback, but I’ve been ignoring the back yard for the last couple of months. Seriously, it looks AWFUL out there. When the weather gets cooler, I’ll make another go of getting rid of it and then I want to rototil the ground there to plant some grass seed. I have about a 12×12 area around the fig that is all weeds. I pull them, they come back. I’ve got to get some grass in there to try to choke them out.

  • judy

    I’m glad to see someone else who makes pretty as funds and finds allow. It’s like swallowing the ice cream cone whole or savoring every cold delicious bite. It looks better than beautiful and you are a genius and Mr. Frank is a craftsman-I have never seen a frugal floor look so fantastic. Kudos to Fantastic Frank and his flooring.

  • Em

    As someone who has a crappy cherry-stained oak floor, my first thought at the beginning of your post was “Don’t! Stop!”

    Then I read further, (and saw I picked the same stain as you), and held my breath.

    My opinion, of course changed to “don’t stop!” Your floor is BEAUTIFUL!! Very dark, very rich, and decidedly UNcrappy!

    “4k well spent!” (she said, as if she had known you for a very long time, versus being a first-time caller.)


    • My Crappy House

      Haha thank you! I think oak can look really bad, or really awesome. Luckily, I ended up with the latter

  • Julia

    You know…sometimes it is so long between your posts that I forget about you. But then…..boom! You post something and I remember how fabulous you are. Don’t let it go to your head.

  • Joanna

    Beautiful, the pic of Egor with the stacked wood injected the thought in my head ‘ah they’re acclimating the wood to cat hair, smart’.

    But seriously, the pic with the green sofa in it is to die for, I love that couch and it looks great on your new floor.

  • susano

    Your floors look beautiful. Good choice on the stain. Very neutral/traditional and can go with anything.

    I noticed your purple/violet chair and killer green sofa. So rich! Such a pretty color combo. This caused me to look at your design plan and I saw you’re going with a peacock color scheme. It will be gorgeous when you’re all done.

    Love your open space from living room to kitchen. With the exposed brick it reminds me a loft. Nice!

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you! I kind of wanted that lofty feeling. Luckily, the floor plan of the house lent itself well to taking walls down. I’m excited to finally get color on the dining room walls and see everything come together

  • Cheryl

    OMG!!! I love the flooring you choose. I thought it was going to be to dark but I was soooooo wrong. You are right, it’s starting to look not crappy! What will you do about the blog name then, lol. I can’t wait to see what you do with your kitchen!!

    • My Crappy House

      My mom said the same thing when I showed her the swatches, but when she saw the final result she agreed it wasn’t too dark. I’ll always have to call it my crappy house, but it will be a term of endearment rather than frustration. Stay tuned for the kitchen…

  • Gail

    Ok, so I totally refused to scroll down until I picked the color I hoped you chose. I was maybe saying a prayer to the Apartment Therapy gods, or YHL deities or whomever, that you picked Antique Brown…I’m not entirely sure why that was so important to me. Well done! It does your girl proud…that couch just stuns against the new floor. And I’m not sure why your couch is a girl. But she is. Probably because she’s a boss. Bravo.
    I’m still trying to wrap myself around the idea that you made your own steps to the basement. I feel you need your own hour on PBS. This Old (not) Crappy House. That is all.

    • My Crappy House

      lol I’m glad we’re on the same page! The color choice was an easy one. Frank (my floor guy) said he didn’t do a lot of antique brown for some reason, which made me like it even more. My couch is definitely a girl.

  • Daphne Barber


    What a great post – and what freaking awesome floors! So how’s Normalvile feel? I got the unlimited monthly pass to Crazy Town, bleck.

    Warm regards.

    • My Crappy House

      lol I didn’t even think of getting the unlimited pass! What a dummy! Things are great in Normalville. Good, sane things are happening. Hope all is well

  • Susan Kuehne

    I picked the Antique Brown too – – lol. I am so surprised that you didn’t install, only because you did the tile which seems sooooo much harder to do. Looks awesome. If I can offer some advise for the future with this floor, do not ever used Bona’s Hard Wood Floor Polish. Their cleaner is great, but the Polish has left my floors in horrible condition. A problem I have been “discussing” with the people at Bona for the past several weeks.

    • My Crappy House

      It was more cost effective to have it done. The days I would have had to take off work (or weeks maybe) weren’t worth it, and I wouldn’t have done the finishing myself anyway – I’m too much of a perfectionist to learn on the job in my own house. It made sense to leave the whole thing to the pros.

      Thanks for the heads up on the polish. I’ll probably just stay away from that whole line!

  • terri

    Why did you decide on the 2″ planks when it seems everyone is going so much wider? Is it more cost effective? Or are the wider planks just a fad and yours will stand the test of time better? I’m just curious about your thought process. I love love love your floors. I live in Arizona and think I need a much lighter stain because of the dust showing on anything dark.

    • My Crappy House

      I’m glad you asked! I try not to let what’s trendy affect what I really want to do in my house. I love the look of the 2.25″ boards. The wide planks really don’t float my boat. I kind of feel like the trend will swing back to the skinny boards, but who knows? In a small space like mine, I feel like the skinny boards are more proportional. Also, having skinny boards means a lot MORE boards which really gives the floor a lot more movement, since each board has a different grain. I just love all of the colors in my floor. I couldn’t be happier

  • Julie Perkins

    ou are my favorite person right now. I’ve been looking at flooring for almost three years now, so when I’m ready to install them, I will know exactly what kind I want. Well, after looking at your floors, which looks fantastic, I’m going to go with the oak and just stain them. Whoohoo! Thank you!

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