HOUSE: Newburgh

Almost finished with the back room! (& a bathroom bonus)

Remember my horrific to-do list for the back room? Well, here’s all that’s left on it:

→ prime floor (2 coats)
→ caulk any large gaps/cracks in floorboards
→ paint floor (2 coats)
→ live in fear of walking on painted floor

Yesssssss. I think I may actually be able to finish this today, depending on how quickly the first coat of paint dries. I’m SO EXCITED to see the room with the floor painted!!!!!!! (!!!!!!!)

By the way, if anything about the photo above looks appealing or refinish-able, it’s either the light or the fact that the floor is wet making it look that way. The floor is gross. It’s the original pine plank subfloor (the rest of the upstairs has wood floors on top of this subfloor—this room was at one point a kitchen when the house was a 2-family, and the wood floor had been removed) that has never been finished. It is stained, grimy, warped, cracked, and splintered. There were areas with rot and water damage, too—I had to dig out the rot and do major patching/sculpting with epoxy.

When we bought the house, there were two layers of glued-down carpeting directly on the floor. Even getting it to the point of being paintable has been a chore, so don’t come down on me and try to tell me I’m “ruining” beautiful old wood and I don’t deserve to own this house. (You can save all of that for when I paint the rest of the floors upstairs! Hah.)

Anyway! Guess what else is amazing? WE STARTING TILING LAST NIGHT!!! We wanted to get the first row up (we just back-buttered them, we didn’t spread the thinset on the wall) and give it time to dry so the rest of the tiles will have something to rest on and not slide down the walls and make us insane. The shimming situation was kind of frustrating, because our tub isn’t precisely level (and there’s nothing we can do about that). Each shim had to be a slightly different thickness so we could get the tile perfectly level. Once we got going, though, it was actually kind of fun. I’m excited to do the rest today. (This is the first time either one of us has tiled anything!) I want to grout next weekend, so I hope we finish!

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  • Reply mommy January 19, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I’m so excited about your floor too! Maybe because I’d love a white painted floor myself, but don’t have a house suitable for it. I’ll just come over and drool on yours! Hope you don’t mind.

  • Reply Kathleen January 19, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Every time I look at my jacked up bathroom window or rotting baseboards I think “Anna from D16 would not let this fly.” I’m so impressed with your attention to detail. How are you going to deal with where the room meets the hall? A threshold? Are you going to paint all of your floors?

  • Reply bethany joy January 19, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Your shower makes me jealous! I want to rip out our old peach 50s tile and do white subway tile, but since we only have one bathroom I must wait until I can afford to make it a weekend job. I am excited to see the final product!

  • Reply stephanie January 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    congratulations! so exciting!

    do you have any good resources for renovating older houses? i’m in a 1909 building in brooklyn and am desperately trying to figure out where to start on floors, walls, etc.

  • Reply Karrey January 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    So, are you just doing the shower surround, or the whole bathroom. I bet it’ll go fairly quickly if it’s just the surround, but we were a little surprised by how long our entire bathroom took to tile (at least the walls, the floor was quick).

  • Reply Corey January 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Best of luck with tiling – it’s not too hard of a job, and you’ll be a pro at it just as you are finishing. 🙂 Laying subway tile is especially easy since the tiles already have the built-in 1/16″ spacers that are hidden below the grout lines.

    Also, if you use a thinset like Omnigrip, the wall tiles will hold up very easily on their own.

  • Reply lindsay January 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I can’t wait to see your finished bathroom! The first time my husband tiled inside of the shower he didn’t even bother to throw down a tarp inside the tub. Thinset bits galore…dried all over my tub…I spent days scraping that crap off! (I used an old credit card…it’s the only thing I could find that didn’t also take the white finish off the tub.)

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 19, 2009 at 11:34 am

    mommy: I’m doing two coats of primer, so it’ll be drool-proof. 🙂

    Kathleen: Oh, you’ll get there eventually! We’ve owned this house for three years, and our to-do list is still MILES long. Anyway, the floor in the back room is actually a little bit lower than in the hall (and the rest of the upstairs), because this is a subfloor — the other flooring is on top of this subfloor. Does that make sense? Also, the boards run perpendicular to each other, so it’s a normal-looking transition. I’ll take a photo of it later. 🙂 I’m not 100% sure I’m going to paint the rest of the floor upstairs. I’m torn between painting them or sanding them down and doing a tung oil finish (no stain). They’re only 1/4″ thick, though, AND they’re face-nailed, so sanding might be a total catastrophe. I’m having a very hard time living with how YELLOW the wood is, so something is going to have to happen.

    bethany joy: Peach ’50s tile sounds pretty good to me! Take a look at — maybe you’ll be inspired to keep yours. 🙂

    stephanie: I should do a post on resources at some point, but for now, start checking out the blogs on There are a lot of people blogging about renovating old homes, and I’ve learned SO MUCH from seeing their photos and learning what mistakes they made, etc. It doesn’t matter if they have different taste in decor! This Old House magazine is also worth subscribing to for a couple of years (watch the TV show, too). OH! And be sure to check out Old House Web. GOOD LUCK!

    Karrey: We’re just doing the surround. The rest of the room will be 8′ beadboard. I hope it goes quickly!

  • Reply Benita January 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

    The floor is going to look awsome painted!!!

    Tiling is so much fun. First it looks nice when the tiles are all up and then when you wipe off the excess grout it looks so great!

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Corey: FYI, Omnigrip shouldn’t be used in wet areas!!! It’s only for areas like backsplashes, etc. CAUTION!!!!!!

  • Reply Making it Lovely January 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing your painted floor! I still go back and forth about wanting to do our kitchen (maybe some sort of pattern?), but I can’t make up my mind. And tiling is easy – it should go pretty quickly.

  • Reply puck January 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I won’t nag you at all. I understand when something is beyond saving!

    (Considering I just spent a week on Decorno trying to explain why I refuse to paint 100 year old tiger oak in a historic home which I hope to ge on the register… this should mean a lot).

    You got the OK from the grumpy preservationist.

    (Really… I am not grumpy. REALLY!)

  • Reply donnarino January 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Forgive me for asking since I’m a newb, but if the floors are rotting shouldn’t you replace them w a new subfloor instead of just patching them?

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    donnarino: The rot was a result of long-ago water damage from the bathroom, which is next door (obviously something flooded or leaked once upon a time). I have since dug out all of the rotted areas (all of the rotted parts are gone now) and patched them with 2-part epoxy. This is a method that can be used to repair rotted wood anywhere, including windows and siding. You can read more about the process here.

    The best thing about old houses is that almost everything that’s original to the house can be repaired. It’s rare to have to remove/replace something completely.

  • Reply Caroline January 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I’m mulling over using latex or oil-based floor paint for our project. What are you using?

  • Reply amanda January 19, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    whoo hoo success!!

    I love when things get going in a house. Check out my before and after of our 100 year old bathroom! It was fun but it took a long, long time. I kept checking your images for inspiration! You did a beautiful job on your other bathroom!


  • Reply Cherisse January 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Your house used to be a 2 family? No way! I’ve always looked at the pictures of your house thinking that it was actually maintained pretty well (even with looking at the prepurchase pictures) There are so many homes in Newburgh that have been converted to 2/3/4…family homes. Sometimes I sigh thinking “oh they’ve been ruined” but that is obviously NOT the case with your beautiful home! Glad to see everything is going well. The new restaurant is going to open soon! They are hiring now! Whooo hoo!

  • Reply woodley park-zoo January 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    AH! So exciting! I can’t wait to see how Anna-fan-tastic the room looks in the end.

    I hope I get to work on an old house someday, and that I’m as good at completing projects as you are by then.

  • Reply sonofcontractor January 19, 2009 at 1:08 pm


    First, love the blog. Everything that can be done in home renovation can be done by mortals with a few hours of practice (preferably on a neighbor’s house!). 🙂

    It may be too late but I have painted floors in half a dozen homes. If you haven’t started yet here is how to do it really efficiently. First, prime the floor with Zinsser ultra coverage primer. Only needs one coat and dries in an hour. I think you can buy this at Home Depot. Trust me. This is the best primer you can buy. Stinks a little but one coat does it all. Second, for the paint, use Benjamin Moore’s porch and floor paint with epoxy in it. Two coats and you can play basketball on that floor without damaging it. Oh, and before I forgot–don’t use caulk on your floor. It will never stay in place. As the floor moves the caulk will come loose and it will be a mess. I know this because I spent a week scraping out caulk of a floor because I didn’t listen to my pops who is an old-school contractor. Use wood filler only.

    Hope that helps. Good luck.

  • Reply leah January 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Just wondering what your thoughts are about painting trim. We have a 1904 house with all the original woodwork, and it’s never been painted. I have wanted to paint it white for basically the whole time we’ve owned the house (8 years now), but everyone I’ve mentioned it to has basically flipped out, so I’ve left it alone as we’ve made other, more obvious + necessary changes.

  • Reply georgina January 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Hi, I always visit your blog and love what you do. Great job!!! 🙂 I’ve moved to an old house last june and I want to paint and do a lot of things. One of them is paint the wood floor of my studio. Can you help me? what kind of paint do you use?? I hope I could find it here (Argentina). I understand when you say: “don’t come down on me and try to tell me I’m “ruining” beautiful old wood” People tell me the same here 🙂

  • Reply wanderluster January 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Having just covered 2/3 of the walls in our bathroom with subway tile, I know what a chore it can be! Knowing where to start and getting everything level is key. Looks like you’re off to a good start…I can’t wait to see the end product.

  • Reply erin@designcrisis January 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    By the time you guys are done with this house, you could open your own contracting/decorating business!

    Oh, and I’m all about painting over whatever you think needs painting over. Life is too short to be precious about every little thing.

  • Reply Diana January 19, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Your house is so happy you’re there!

  • Reply mixette January 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Back room is lookin’ good!

    I’m elbow deep in stripping/sanding/painting (furniture) myself and like Kathleen above I say to myself “Anna wouldn’t stop and go read magazines – no – she’s probably priming something right this very instant!”

    I’m going to sample some of the Benjamin Moore black that you mentioned a while back for some dining room chairs.

    Thanks for showing the nitty-gritty – so inspiring.

  • Reply Adam January 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Congratulations on all of the wonderful progress you have made! The back room will look beautiful with the floor painted, I’m absolutely in love with the painted floor in my bedroom (which I never would have done if it hadn’t been for you encouraging me). I would add chimneys to your list of things that are VERY HARD to fix in an old house!

  • Reply maya January 19, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    can’t wait to see!
    is it going to be black or white??..?
    good luck!

  • Reply hallie January 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    I’m going to use the exact same tiles on the surround for one of the downstairs bathrooms, I will be taking notes bigtime.
    ps:I still drool over your other, completed bathroom floor. Probably my all time favorite tile job.

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 20, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Cherisse: As far as I can tell, the only things that were done to make this house a 2-family were nailing shut a pocket door in the hallway, and putting multiple padlocks on various doors. I don’t know how long ago this was — it had already been converted back to single family when we bought it.

    sonofcontractor: Well, what do you know…those are the EXACT products I’m using! This is a Zinsser/BM household all the way. 🙂 As for the caulk, don’t worry — I used wood filler everywhere were it counts. The caulk is only for the big gaps around the perimeter of the room where tons of cold air is gushing in!

    leah: One of these days I need to write a post on how I feel about painted wood, but for now, let me put it this way: IT’S YOUR HOUSE. If you’ve lived there for 8 years and have wanted to paint the trim that entire time, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be happy with the results. 🙂 The world isn’t going to end if you paint the wood! Painted wood isn’t a new thing — people all over the world have been painting floors, furniture, and woodwork for hundreds of years! It’s not a trend, and it’s not “wrong”. When people get bent out of shape, I like to refer them to any issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Most people would agree that Martha knows a thing or two about good taste, and she has a style that appeals to both classicists AND modernists. Now: I challenge you to find a single example of UNPAINTED trim in any photo spread in her magazine. See what I mean? ;Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live my life according to Martha, but I find she’s a pretty good setter if precedent for me to use as an example when combating so-called “purists”. 😉

    Caroline & georgina: I’m using Zinsser BIN 1-2-3 primer and Benjamin Moore Porch & Patio paint (2 coats of each). Both are latex-based. I can’t deal with oil paint!

    maya: WHITE! 🙂 🙂

    UPDATE: The priming is done, and I have one coat of paint down. Photos soon!

  • Reply DeAnna January 20, 2009 at 2:41 am


    I love watching your progress and your tenacity is inspiring. Your home is beautiful.

    My husband and I have been working working on and restoring our old queen anne for…ever, and much of what we do is unremodel the previous owners work.
    I have one tip for painting wood – prime with clear shellac instead of tinted (Zinsser). It will prevent the paint pigment from settling into the grain of the wood. This will save some future home owner who is wonders what where you thinking from cursing you in perpetuity.

  • Reply Barb F (Australia) January 20, 2009 at 5:04 am

    Oooh hooray, I am very excited about seeing the results! Are you taking any time off to watch the inauguration?

  • Reply Sammi January 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

    It’s looking good.

    Why should anyone moan about you ruining the floor or whatever? They don’t have to live there.

    Can’t wait to see the finished room 🙂

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 20, 2009 at 9:04 am

    DeAnna: There were already between 3-12 layers of paint on all of the woodwork in the house (minus the floors) when we bought it, so it’s a little late for shellac!!! As for this floor, it really is a badly warped/cracked subfloor with quite a lot of damage. I seriously doubt anyone would ever consider “restoring” it, as it was never a finished floor. (If someone does strip the paint off 60 years from now, they’re going to find a whole lot of epoxy underneath, anyway…)

    Barb: I’m back at work today (no more house stuff until the weekend — boo-hoo!), but I will be watching the inauguration online! 🙂 🙂

  • Reply Livi January 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    It’s your house, you do what you want! I love painted floors!

  • Reply Minna January 23, 2009 at 7:42 am

    I’m pretty envious about the wooden floor you found under the old carpet. We also have 3-5 layers (depending on the room) of old carpet (plastic and textile) in our upstairs bedrooms, but there’s no chance that we’ll find a floor that beautiful underneath them. So, we are installing new laminated flooring (boring, cold, but ok-looking) after we remove the old layers. Painted plank floor

  • Reply Corey January 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Hey Ana – thanks for the heads up, but it’s a bit too late now. Reviews are mixed for the application, but Omnigrip says it’s ok for shower walls. Guess I’ll have to see how it holds up over time. :-/

  • Reply Anna at D16 January 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Corey, search for “omnigrip” on the John Bridge forum — it’s not pretty!!

  • Reply Corey January 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I see. Most comments I see are for large tile. I used hardiebacker, and had 3 days of dry time before grout. Hopefully all is well, as it is in there now and the product is rated for shower walls (ANSI A136.1).

    If I had to do it all over again I’d use something else, but for this application I think it will be fine. And seeing as it’s up now, I might as well just be happy with it since it’s going to be there for a while. 🙂

  • Reply B April 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm


    i love the look of the white floor. what did you caulk it with?

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 30, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    B: No caulk. There’s a fully-detailed post listing all of the steps and products I used here.

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