Sunday, September 23, 2012

Refinished Hardwood Floors...DIY!!

Is your fall weather as amazing as ours is here? It has completely re-energized me to keep truckin' on the list of home improvements that seems to finally be shrinking instead of growing! Our windows have been open everyday and we've been tackling some BIG ones...

You will soon see that the theme of my current projects is all about flooring. The project I’m sharing today was the catalyst causing the chain reaction of updating every last bit of outdated flooring in our house. 

When we moved in to this house, the hardwood floors were a bonus, but the color was a definite negative. Typical of a house built 20 years ago, the color was a light gingery pecanvery orange. 

So were the cabinets. 
And the vanities. 
Orange overkill. 

 We fixed the orange of the cabinets and the island but were left with floors that looked like this:


The living room was carpeted, so with great joy, last thanksgiving, we ripped it out and replaced it with new wide-planked distressed walnut in a rich, dark mocha color. We knew that one dayeventually, we would get brave enough to refinish the orange wood through the rest of the house to match.

We tackled it over Labor Day Weekend and now that all the work is done, the feel of the house is much more cohesive. Looking back, after setting a game plan and executing the project TOGETHER, it was completely do-able. There are a couple things I would have changed, knowing what I know now, but it was overall a huge success! 

I hesitated in doing the project that weekend, because we were having people over Saturday night to watch the first Razorback game and wouldn’t be able to start until Sunday morning. But when I decided that the chosen stain would be Rust-oleum’s Ultimate Wood Stain in Kona, which is a fast dry stain that can be poly’d in an hour, we still went for it. Sunday morning, we moved all furniture off the floors and gave it a sweep. We headed to Home Depot and rented a belt sander for $50 for the day. We also bought:
1.   our sanding pads (2 course, one fine)  
2. lamps wool applicator
3. Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Kona (just enough for our appropx 600 sq feet of floors including kitchen, hallway, entryway, and dining room) I just read the can for coverage amounts.
4.  Rust-Oleum Water-based Polyurethane (enough for 3 coats)
5.  Foam paint roller
6.  Sanding pads for our hand sander
7.  Watering can
8.  Stain brush
9.  Drop Cloth (to block off areas while hand-sanding.

My total came to $200 for the project (3 rooms!) With about 600 sq ft, we refinished the floors for about $0.33 per square foot.

I got started with this bad-boy sander while Sean worked on school-work. After working with it a bit, I found it worked best to walk slowly, letting it roll forward, as if you’re pushing a stroller or shopping cart, down an entire straight strip, then pull the handle to release. Next, while the belt isn't spinning, turn and get into place to walk back down the next strip (similar to push mowing). This worked better than any kind of back and forth motion, which caused rough or uneven spots. I knew to always go with the grain, but it also helped to always go forward. Whatever you do, keep it in motion at all times that the lever is down and the belt is turning. 

It has a bag attached to it that we emptied after each room and virtually no sand was stirred up while using it. I was so impressed!

We walked the entire area with the course first, then back over with the fine sand paper. It took about 6-7 hours if I remember right, to sand the majority of the rooms using the belt sander. It took every bit of finish off by just walking over each strip of floor once. 

This is where the hallway (old wood) meets the living room's new wood. 

I had faith that I could match it. I tested a small section inside a closet with the Kona and decided that was about as close as it could get!

The dining room and entry had a few tight corners where I couldn't go in a straight line. You try to avoid sweeps or curves when possible but it's not too noticeable when I couldn't go with the grain in a few spots.


Then came the fun partusing a hand-sander to sand every bit of finish off the edges of the entire area. It seemed to take forever. We moved onto staining the kitchen before sanding the edges of other rooms so we could sand during the dry time. We swept as good as we possibly could, several times, to remove the sand, especially from the edges.

 Time to stain.

With stain poured in a paint tray and the lambs wool applicator attached to a pole, I applied the stain in sections, (edging along the trim first with a stain brush then applying the rest with the pole) Then, I let it sit for 5-10 minutes per instructions on the can before wiping off the excess. 

This is what I would change if I did it again. As I moved on, I realized the wood looked so much prettier when I applied the stain to a section and then immediately wiped off the excess with a swiffer type push mop (which I tied old tee-shirts around).


The stain was so quick drying and the sander sanded so well, that it absorbed immediately and grew darker than what I had ideally pictured when I waited 10 minutes like the can instructed, almost covering the grain. Bonus: doing it this way makes it even quicker. Win-Win.  The kitchen still looks great, but the wood grain shows through so much prettier when I moved onto the hall, entry, and dining room and had figured out the trick.

Edging under all that cabinetry was OH SO FUN! Actually, the process went quickly with my steady hand, but it was just killer on the back and legs.

 See? Ouch.

Glad to be getting all of this done while I'm still limber and resilient! 

We were so stoked to be accomplishing it! And I was thrilled to have a full-time partner for this big project. 


 I don't expect him to tackle all of my crazy ideas with me. Most I take on myself and can handle fine. This one, I expected to do the same. On our shopping trip to Home Depot (I just asked for help to get the sander home) we were picking out the supplies. I found the stain applicator and threw it in the buggy. 
Sean: No, we need 2 of those.
Me: Nu-uh, why would I need two?
Sean: Well how else am I going to help?

Melt my heart. Make my day. 

Me: I assumed I was doing it myself, you don't need to help.
Sean: No. You are not doing this yourself.

He was right. I'll admit I would not have come close to finishing it in 2 days if I'd been working alone. It always helps to have a partner!

Stranded without a kitchen, Sean's mom brought us Zaxby's for supper. We refueled and rested up for day two.

Monday, (LOVE work holidays! But find it interesting how I always manage to celebrate Labor day by laboring...) we were able to finish staining the hallway and entry, then begin poly'ing everything. 

I drizzled poly from the watering can, rolled on smoothly with a foam roller, then let dry for 2 hours.  


All that we couldn't finish in the 2 days of that weekend, was the dining room perimeter. The hand-sanding just took longer than anticipated so we postponed it for the next weekend.

And with all that...I think it's before and after time! 












 Refinishing the floors dark made them look antique but current at the same time.

This is a shot of the 4 areas we had to refinish. The kitchen leads into the dining room and entry on the left, and the living room hallway on the right. 

Dining room before: 

 Dining Room After:



 So pretty:

Entry Before: 

Entry After:



 And now, for possibly the coolest part of the whole thing...

Do you notice what's so great about this picture? It's where the old and the new floor meet, on the right side of the doorway. The planks on the right are wide and were put down a year ago. The skinny planks on the left, we stained to match. Lo and behold, they do!

Close-up of the old floor refinished:

So there you have it. 
Two people. Two weekends. Too beautiful.

Would you believe, after all that, I am tackling more floors? If it's any indication of whether you should refinish your floors yourself or not, doing my hardwood made me want to update the other rooms more instead of scaring me away from them. So that's a good thing:)

The floors to get a facelift next involve paint, pattern, plywood, and concrete. Get excited:)

Love ya,
The Grays