A Floor Story

To start off the project, I decided to tear everything out that didn't make sense to the original purpose of the building, minus the ceiling, it was simply repaired & painted. Those that know me personally, know that the floor has been a quite the quest. It has claimed hundreds of hours of my life, making me second guess my decision to take on this project. After doing some excavating I discovered that hidden under more layers than a burito were the original maple floors from the early 1900's.

The first layer was carpet with large areas of ceramic tile mixed in, it was the easiest part to remove. The next layer was a plywood subfloor which was stapled and nailed enough that Hercules himself would be labored to pull it up. The next layer was old square tile which was glued down. What made this difficult to remove were all the staples and nails still sticking out from the previous layer of wood. It wasn't possible to pull them out, they had become too brittle from the decades buried in the floor. The only way to remove the tile was to chisel it up, literally inch by inch. Once this layer was removed, there was another layer of some sort of fiberboard sheets, which also had to be removed inch by inch due to the nails and staples being brittle. Under this layer, I discovered yet another layer of old tile, which was heavily glued down. I was lucky that by this point it was possible to pry the majority of the staples out. The ones that snapped would later be hammered back into the floor. This layer of tile came up a little easier, but still took many long, unpleasant days to remove. At this point I had worked myself to the edges of the building where I found another layer of plywood around the perimeter, this was glued, screwed, nailed and stapled.

I finally got the front half completely up, this is where we discovered large areas of the original maple missing from when it was hit by a tornado in 1924. I was lucky to land some old maple flooring from the Cleveland Trust bank on the 300 block. I also discovered the original entrance to the basement was where the current front entrance is. It was filled in with sheets of rustic old pine. Here local carpenter Everett Query designed and installed a beautiful black walnut/white oak chevron pattern inlay after I pried all of the pine filler out. The black walnut wood for this project was grown on my uncle Charlie's property in Berlin Heights. I needed a break from this and the million other demolition projects I had going on, like removing plaster, taking entire walls out, etc. I took a one year break and remodeled the entire upstairs of the building. There are 3 beautiful apartments with ancient skylights and wood floors. I also restored the wood floors in the upstairs hallways and redid the entire stairwell going up.

Ok, not back to the floors. To make a long story short, the back half was even worse. Over top several large areas was concrete, floor leveler, and the dreaded mystery section of tile. I'm guessing it was a bathroom floor at one time, but it gave me such a hassle to remove. 7 large sections of floor were very damaged, cut out, with more Cleveland Trust flooring spliced in. There was over 50 holes to patch from plumbing and electrical additions over the years. But likely one of the worst parts, pulling an estimated 40,000 nails, staples and spikes out of the floor. Now that it is finished and this is all behind me, I can enjoy looking at this floor, but I sometimes still have bad dreams about it. If you'd like to hear more about the renovation just ask, I could fill an entire book explaining all of the work I've done on the showcases, beams and other areas.