Hi all,

Hoping this community can help me! We recently purchased a home built in 1865 and while there are still many beautiful and original details, there have also been a lot of "dumb" renovations over the years that we are slowly going to attempt to reverse. Our first project is the kitchen! Currently the entire downstairs has an ugly, fake laminent floor. We know the original pumpkin pine floors are underneath because we can see them in the closets, under the radiators, and in the kitchen under the cabinets (when we moved in we had to replace the dishwasher right away and the new flooring was not under the cabinetry). Obviously I do not know the condition of the original pine floors throughout. I assume they aren't in great condition, otherwise why would they have been covered in the first place? However, the previous owners did various things that make me question if they even tried to preserve the character of the home, so it may have just been a style thing for them (ugh).

Our entire kitchen is going to be changed aesthetically. We are not moving any walls or windows or doors. All original details and layouts will remian, but all of the cabinetry and cabinetry layout is going to be replaced.

Anyway, initially I had planned on trying to restore the floors, however, our contractor was over today and we all realized for the first time that we have kind of a major problem. All of the interior doors (and there are three just in the kitchen alone) as well as all of the beautiful ornate door frame moldings throughout the downstairs have been cut at the bottom so the new, ugly, fake floors could fit underneath. When we go to remove the fake floors in the kitchen (and eventually throughout the rest of the first floor) there is going to be about a 1/4 inch gap between the bottom of the moldings and the floors and an even bigger space between the bottom of the doors and the floors.

I don't know what to do. My contractor suggested maybe trying to find salvaged wood to replace the fake floors with, or to pull up the original floors, lay new sub floor, and put back down the original floor.

Does anyone have an other suggestions? Or know of any place where I might be able to find salvaged flooring from around 1865? I really want the floors to be "original" to the era of the home. Desperate for ideas and input.

Thank you all in advance for any comments.

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Hi,
Have you considered placing quarter round at the bottom of baseboard/floor and putting thresholds in the doorways. That should eliminate your gaps. You would then need to stain or paint both to match the existing baseboard and floor. This seems like it would be less labor intensive and more cost effective than pulling up all of the flooring, doing a subfloor and replacing the old flooring. It is just a thought. Good luck
Thanks but it's not the molding at the bottom of the walls. That we can definitely put quarter round on. It's the bottom of the woodwork of the door frames. This is very detailed woodwork and is not flat to the wall. Quarter round wouldn't lay right. I am going to look into what it would code to have a carpenter try and recreate the moldings and make little 1/4 inch fillers. I'm guessing this is not going to be easy because the door frames are all unique. If someone is capable of doing this kind of thing I imagine they would be some kind of woodworking artist. I'm sure it can be done, I just don't know if I can find someone with that kind of skill, nor do I know if I could afford that kind of thing. We will be using quarter round at the base of the rest of the base/floor molding.
Well if that is the case a millwork company should have a knife at least similar to your unique pattern and could run a length of board for you. You could then cut your "slices" to fit . You probably have a company within driving distance . Another way to look at this is that YOU know that the small gaps exist, probably no one else will notice unless you call attention to it.

Why don't you take some pictures of the door molding and potential gap areas to post here?  That will help people weigh in.  I have fairly large gaps on my 2nd floor doors, for example, where I believe that there was 1970s carpet.  Those gaps don't bother me at all. Gaps on the door casement might be a problem, but I would greatly prefer filling that gap over leaving laminate flooring or replacing flooring.  I would also think that laying reclaimed flooring over your original would require cutting still more off of your doors/casings.

I have done this trick a few times and it worked for me.  In one house all the trim was cut short for carpet and we took the carpet out.  I took a piece of door stop ( 3/8 X 1¼ X ?) I cut this piece down to ¼" wider and ½ longer than the short base.  I rounded the 3 edges and slipped it under the short trim. When I got it to fit perfect and the perfect color, I put a spot of glue on the floor and slipped it into place. It took care of the gap and looked like it was part of the trim rather than a mistake.  I can't think of any other thing short of inventing a wood stretcher.   

Without seeing pictures of the molding, it's kind of hard to offer any advice.  Regarding the doors,  Your problem depends on how big of a gap there is between the bottom of the door and the existing laminate.  If the door is fairly tight to the existing floor, another 1/4" shouldn't be too big of a deal aesthetically.  It's not unusual to have a 3/4" gap between the door and hardwood. 

Update: so we pulled up the ugly new floors and found that the original pumpkin pine was in poor condition. Many of the boards we split on the edges and there were huge gaps between them. We could see directly into the basement in many areas. We got a few opinions and everyone agreed that, while they could be patched if we insisted, they would not look nice. Luckily we found what is now my favorite company, Real Antique Wood, in Irvington, NJ. One of you that commented may have actually suggested that place, but I don't remember. We were able to buy salavaged pine from the same era and they did an amazing job installing it. Instead of staining it and putting a finish on it we are actually going to have them finish it the old fashioned way, wax! They also had so many reclaimed, old square head nails that they're going to use to make it look like it was installed a long time ago. After a few years of wear I don't think you will be able to tell they weren't here from the beginning of the home's life. Obviously because we had to put floors down over the originals we did not have the problem with the gaps between the floor and the molding. It ended up costing us a lot more than we initially had planned, but I'm really happy with the results. They aren't done yet, but here is a video of the work in progress.
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