View Full Version : Refinishing Wood Floors - anyone do it themselves?

4-4-11, 10:14am
DS Ian & I are thinking of refinishing our wood floor this summer. When we moved into this house the living room had a ratty, dirty, smelly carpet. We tore that up and there are hardwood floors underneath. We've never had the money to have them refinished. Now that I am feeling more energetic I am thinking about tackling them. The floors are stained in areas so I kind of feel like it would be hard to make them look any worse than they already are.

So any advise or helpful hints?

4-4-11, 3:35pm
@Azure - I purchased a house that had not been lived in for 4 years. All was airtight, so the moisture from the old olive green shag carpet stayed in. I pulled the carpeting out as well. There are a few stains spots on my hardwood floors as well. This year we are renting a floor sander, then will restain and repolyurethane it. SO has a nephew who has done it, and states that as long as you keep the pressure on the sander the same, you will not have any problems. Also you will want to do a room at a time and cover the doorways so that the dust doesn't flow into the other rooms. I have two bedrooms, hallway, dining room and living room that will be done. The only two rooms in the house that don't have wood flooring are the bathroom and kitchen. We just remodeled the bathroom (last year). The bathroom had old discolored and warped linoleum. The total cost of remodeling was $500.00 (new flooring, drywall as the walls are plaster, moulding, paint, vanity and new sink). There had been no vanity and the sink would not hold water and was all chipped. Watched for sales and picked up the items that way.

I want to do the sanding when the weather turns warmer so that the dust can go outside as much as possible. I'm thinking the worst part will be having to wash down the walls after it is sanded. The nephew lives 6-1/2 hours away, so I don't know if we can borrow the floor sander or not (the cost of gas may make us think that it is better to just rent a unit).

4-4-11, 4:13pm
I've done it, and am SO HAPPY with the results. As you said, my floors were really worn and stained, and I was tired of having to cover them up. It's a bit of a job, but in a few days its over and the results last forever (well, not maybe forever, but for a long time).

1) Go to Home Depot rental center and get a sander. Ask for advice and help from the guy. He'll tell you about the sandpaper to use (you have to do two-three passes: one with gritty paper, then finer, then finer. Then rent it for a day or two.

2) Take everything out of the room you're doing. EVERYTHING: take down pictures, plants, drapes. The reason is, the dust goes EVERYWHERE which leads to step 3:

3) Get polyurethene or shower curtain liners and seal off the entryways to minimize the dust that's going to inevitably find itself everywhere in your house.

4) Then do the sanding according to directions--it's a fairly physical act--I was sore the next day. You also have to do edges and corners with another tool

5) Then you'll have to wipe down the floor very carefully with a microfiber sponge to get rid of the dust

6) then you use a drum of finish--you can pick matte or semi-gloss or gloss. You squeegee/apply the finish and wait for it to dry, then reapply once or twice.

That's basically all it is. Hard work, but big payoff.

Good luck!

4-4-11, 4:25pm
Have you ripped up the entire carpet? If not, you might want to cut a small hole in the carpet in the middle of the room to see what is underneath. Some older homes have hardwood floors around the edges of the room, but the middle of the room is just a big piece of pine. Apparently people would do this to save money and just throw an area rug over the pine. The edges would be hardwood, so people would assume the whole floor was. ;-)

Refinishing is a lot of work, but so worth it! My stepdad refinished all of the hardwood floors in he and my mom's old Victorian, and they are gorgeous!

The floors had a lot of stains on them. The paint and water stains sanded out. The really dark ones (they were almost black) seemed to be caused by pet urine, and those would not come out. He had to take out that wood and replace it. My contractor was telling me, though, that there is a wood bleaching product that can be used to help remove stains. Sometimes several applications are needed, but it does work for a lot of different types of stains. Maybe you could ask about it when you rent the sander.

Another tip is to keep the sander moving when you use it. Try not to leave it in the same place for too long or you might end up with dips in your floor. I have heard that newer sanders are better at preventing this than older sanders, though.

4-4-11, 4:32pm
Twice. Both times VERY old houses, floors badly cupped, and a lot of hard, dusty, freakin' work. Both times TOTALLY worth it. The floors were old growth, clear douglas fir - not a knot anywhere. Once the finish was on, they looked like liquid honey in the sunlight. Sooo gorgeous. Go for it! Be prepared to work hard and completely dig the results. And then, ban shoe wearing in your home, so they stay gorgeous.