the floor scrapers by gustave caillebotteA reproduction of this painting, The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte, hung in our living room for ages. And I once had the opportunity to see the original when it traveled to San Francisco for an Impressionist retrospective. Sadly though, when I looked at it,  I never first contemplated the interesting use of perspective, or the dramatic lighting. What always popped into my mind initially was, “What a dreadful back-breaking job.” And after the last three days, my suspicions are confirmed. Working on floors is a backbreaking job. That doesn’t mean there aren’t creative ways around some of the work. At least with the Leper Hobo Method, you can inject some fun in the process.

Let me backtrack. Tuesday the work was all mine. I spent the day moving furniture out, vacuuming up pounds of dog hair and cobwebs then washing down the floors twice with Murphey’s Oil Soap. Wednesday, Andrea joined me and we used rollers and hand brushes to paint on Velvit Oil. Thursday, I had the full A Team as Amber joined us. But not before John the Baptist came in to inspect and informed us that we’d done it all wrong.

In addition to being a naturalist, native plant specialist, habitat restoration professional and former salmon boat fisherman, John is also an expert wood finisher. Or that’s what he told us as he ordered us to take clean rags and buff out the floor with turpentine to thin the Velvit Oil that we had apparently spread too thick.

The A Team mimics Caillebotte

So this is our modern take on Caillebotte.


mimicing Caillebotte's Floor Scrapers

Caillebotte Simulation Take Two. And yes, I was doing my part, but someone had to take pictures.

Of course, I did mention that we were buffing this out with turpentine. So in no time, we were high as a bunch of hobos drinking meths. It was a tedious process that required thinning the oil with turpentine, rubbing it to spread the oil, letting it set, then going back to buff it dry. By about the fifth hour on our knees, we came up with the Leper component of the plan. Instead of bending our backs, why didn’t we just bind our feet with rags like those lepers in Ben Hur?


buffer the floor leper style

It's definitely a look. Like from that scene in Papillon on the Leper Island.

So we started letting our feets do the buffing.


amber buffs the floor by moonwalking

Amber quickly discovered that Moonwalking Michael Jackson style yielded the best results. Which is not easy when all that's playing is Country Western.

refinishing floors with terriers

Soon everyone wanted to get into the act.

dj restores floors

Guys were coming out of the field wanting to jump in. However, DJ, it's not the same effect when you just shuffle your workboots over rags.

Louis, of course, just wanted to tell us we weren’t doing real work because we’d taken a lunch break. And he took video which better not end up on Facebook since my outfit above the feet was just as ratty. Yes, I was sporting that Leper in Rags look top to bottom.

John gave us a pass saying, in effect, we’d done pretty well for amateurs.

Yeah, but amateurs with style.


Andrea buffs the floor

Especially Andrea, who did most of her polishing the old fashioned way -- with elbow grease. Including a whole flight of stairs.