The revelation of the floors was perhaps the most gratifying part of the Extreme Ratty Attic Makeover. Why? Because the previous owner painted all the floors—virtually all 3,000 square feet of house—with 2 coats of oxblood-red paint. This scary sander, its ultra-fat'n'scary extension cord sucking electricity straight from the box downstairs, was up to the task.
With much screeeeeeek and zzzaaazzz, the layers (including a mud-brown topcoat that may simply have been filth) started coming off. The house was filled with a strange, resinous smell: that of fresh-cut pine lumber.
This was old-growth yellow pine, according to our contractor, easily found in century-old houses but no longer available; the fresh-cut smell was the amazing old wood, still loaded with some "juice" about 100 years after being felled. And yes, the hideous paint had served to protect the floors from their boarding-house battering for all those decades.
The saddle and edges needed hand-scraping, and lots of places needed putty fillings. Hey, this isn't Monticello; I'm delighted with the rehabbed-factory-loft esthetic. Super-thrilling bonus: We did the third-floor landing, too!
Finally, two coats of polyurethane and a good buffing. (Years ago, in a tiny guest bedroom, we hand-rubbed the floor with tung oil and loved its sweet-smelling, mellow burnish, but this time we weren't up for quite so much effort on our knees.) When the sun hits it, it glows like caramelized sugar. It is the color of redemption.