Repair Chronicle # 3: Refinishing Wood Floors
This is an ongoing series of homeowner insight & advice on repairs, upgrades, & add-ons, sometimes do-it-yourself (DIY), sometimes not, chronicling what went well, what did not go so well and advice for the rest of us. Please feel free to submit your repair chronicle to the http://www.TNPBlog.com … we would love to hear your stories and advice. If you wish to submit, please follow this format: (Oh, and we reserve the right to edit and publish or not publish as we see fit. By submitting to the TNPBlog Repair Chronicles, you agree that we can edit or publish and/or not publish as we see fit.)
Repair Chronicle # 3: Refinishing Wood Floors
Q1. What was the scope of your project?
The carpet in our home was getting old and worn out so we decided to tear it up and replace it with new carpet. When we ripped the carpet up we discovered that the original floors were hard wood floors. It didn’t take long to know why the carpet was put down because the original flooring was worn, stained and scratched up pretty bad. Still the thought of having hard wood floors was very appealing so we decided to refinish the wood floors.
Q2. What was the general budget (initial)?
Since our original plan was to re-carpet our home we had about $5,000.00 put back for this project.
Q3. How close did you land on budget?
The money we had put back for carpet was enough to cover the expense of refinishing the wood floors with a little to spare.
Q4. $ for $, what was the best money spent?
The wood floor sander was our best investment. We would have never been able to complete this project without it. They rent for approximately $100 and can be found at most any equipment rental shop. We rented the traditional drum sander which worked very well.
When using one of these sanders you have to remember to keep it moving at all times. If they are left in one spot they will put a groove in the floor so deep you will never be able to remove it. If you have never used a hardwood floor sander before, make sure you get a demonstration on how they work to avoid having problems later and always keep the sander moving in the direction of the grain of the wood.
Never, ever sand across the grain! Go over the floor first with heavy-grit sandpaper until all the scratches and stains are removed. After this you need to go over it again with light-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish.
Q5. $ for $, what was money not well spent?
We started out with a liquid floor stripper because we were told that this would strip off the finish fast and easy but we soon found that this was not true. It may be good for a small spot but not for a whole floor. It was very hard to use and made a big mess. It was not worth the money we spent on it and we still ended up renting a floor sander.
Q6. If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?
Hire a professional. It was more work than I would have liked to put into it.
Q7. Advice for the rest of us?
It’s harder than you think.
It takes time and patience. You will need to start by taking all the furniture out of the room. Next, make sure there are no nails or carpet tacks left in the flooring; inspect it well.
Get your supplies before you get started so that you don’t have to run out in the middle of working to buy sandpaper or more stain. Don’t forget the dust masks.
Once the sanding has been completed you have to decide if you want to stain the floor or use a clear coat to protect it while maintaining the natural color tone of the wood. We chose the clear coat. Whichever you choose to use make sure that the floors are completely clear of debris before you begin this process. Any dust or debris in the floor will dry in the stain or clear coat and cannot be removed without repeating the process.
Don’t forget about ventilation because these products can be really strong and breathing in the fumes is bad for your health. With stains you may need to apply more than one coat to get the desired color you are after.
Q8. Was there a contractor, plumber, electrician, innocent bystander who deserves an oscar for best performance?
Our two children deserve an Oscar for convincingly encouraging us that we could complete this project with excellent results and for supplying us with something cold to drink.
Q9. What’s next on your list?
I want to replace my old windows with new energy saving ones.
Q10. Your name or alias? Your neighborhood?
Lisa, Copperas Cove
© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.