Diamonds in the rough

The Old House Web

Editor's note: Bill and Gay Chapman, along with their son,William, have been restoring Bill's ancestral home, Enon Hall, in Virginia,since 1999. Bill has been keeping a journal of the trials and tribulations ofrestoring a very old home. The following entries and photos tell the storyof the Chapman's kitchen floor. The Chapmans thought painting the floor wouldsave time -- but found out differently.

Gay Chapman
Gay Chapman begins painting the diamonds carefully taped by Bill and young William.

January 28, 2001

Today I built a new breakfast bar in the kitchen. Gay and I have decided thatany changes made in the kitchen should be treated as temporary, since we'llultimately want to redo the entire space...but not anytime soon. So we'redefinitely trying make any short-term changes as inexpensive as possible.Therefore, the new breakfast bar is made out of a 24" X 80" hollowcore door and an upside down newel post as a corner brace. All done except forsome finishing trim and paint.

February 4, 2001

My last journal entry stated that the new breakfast counter was all finishedother than some trim work and paint. Well, that was before I decided that tilingthe countertop would eliminate the lightweight feel of the hollow core door thatI used for the top. But I like tiling, so this was a fun little afternoonproject for me. Now all it needs is trim, grout and paint. We've also decided topaint the kitchen floor, paneling, and cabinets. Then the kitchen will be allset for the summer. --

February 9, 2001

Finished up the new breakfast bar in the kitchen (well, all but some trimaround the top edge) and Gay and William began painting the kitchen paneling andcabinets.

counter 1
The beginnings of the new kitchen: the breakfast bar.

counter 2
William Chapman shows off dad's new tiling job.

counter 3
The bar is painted and tiled allowing the Chapmans to turn next to painting the floor.

February 18, 2001

We spent all day today on our hands and knees on the hard kitchen floor.While Gay applied a second coat of paint to the cabinets, William and I tapedoff the 18 inch diamonds on the floor. Then Gay and I started painting the floorwhile William moved from square to square like a human chess piece.

February 24, 2001

The floor paint is not bonding to the kitchen floor. You can just scrape itup with your fingernail. Gay thinks the floor has wax on it and that ispreventing the floor enamel from bonding. Problem is, of course, that half ofthe floor is now painted with diamonds and they need to come up. Looks likewe'll be renting a floor sander next weekend and sanding down the floor. And ifwe're going to do that, we might as well just go ahead and refinish the floortoo. We had decided to paint the floor in the first place because we thought itwould be easier than sanding and refinishing. But it looks like that's exactlywhat we'll wind up doing after all.

Oh well. It's a mess, but it's our mess.

Bill Chapman
Bill, in the middle of taping off floor diamonds. The "quick" project is turning out to be anything but quick.

March 3, 2001

The kitchen floor saga continues. Given another week of drying time, thepaint seems to be bonding better to the floor. You can still scrape it up withyour fingernail if you really try, but it's holding up fine to walking.Therefore, we've decided to proceed with the diamonds as planned. Once we'refinished with the painting we are going to seal the floor with polyurethane inthe hopes that it will provide a protective finish that will prevent the paintfrom scraping up.

In hindsight, we did just about everything wrong with this project. Iwas half way through taping the floor the first time when I realized that Ishould have painted the entire floor with one color and THEN taped off thediamonds to be painted in the second color. But at that point I didn't want topull up all of the tape and start over: That would have been the smart thing todo. Instead we're doing this the HARD way. We will be another coupleweekends and countless more rolls of blue masking tape before this"quick" project is done. (Apparently there was a great article onpainting a floor diamond pattern in a Martha Stewart magazine within the lastyear. Obviously we have not been able to put our hands on it.)

March 11, 2001

Wonderful warm day today. Gay put another coat of paint on the kitchen floor...

March 25, 2001

Put a coat of semi-gloss polyurethane on the painted diamonds the kitchenfloor. I'm hoping that this will allow us to tape over these diamonds withoutpulling up any paint so that we can paint the other half of the floor and finishthis project up.

March 31, 2001

Put the first two coats of paint on the offsetting diamonds on the kitchenfloor. (If you're tired of reading about this floor, imagine how we feel!)

April 6-8, 2001

We also pulled up the last of the tape on the kitchen floor, finallyrevealing the completed diamond pattern. Everything looked great so we applied acoat of semi-gloss polyurethane to the entire floor after William went to bed.Put another coat of polyurethane on the kitchen floor before we went to bed. OnSunday, we happily proclaimed the kitchen floor finished and brought thefurniture back into the room.

kitchen done
A bird's eye view of a very lovely painted (and finished!) kitchen.

May 15, 2001

The kitchen floor is wearing quite nicely so far! And we haven't beentreating it lightly either. It got lots of dirty boot traffic this past weekendand took the abuse just fine. (Knock on wood!)

SeeFeatures for more OHW stories about Bill and Gay Chapman's restorationprojects.

To BillChapman's Enon Hall Web site.

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