Our first home need lots of TLC inside. When we ripped up the nasty 70s carpet, we discovered beautiful hardwood floors that were in excellent condition. We immediately cancelled our order for new carpet and got to work sanding. Before you start refinishing hardwood floors, here’s what you should know.
Before you can stain or polyurethane the floors, you need to sand them. All that sanding creates a huge amount of dust. We were able to do most of the hardwood floors before we moved in and finished before we fully unpacked. If you’re already living in your home, it gets tricky.
One approach is to do one room at a time. You’ll need to be careful where the floors run into other rooms though. If you can clear all of the rooms and do the work all at once you’ll get better results.
Be prepared to have a dusty home for some time. If you have furniture in the home, move it to a different area or cover it to keep as much dust off as possible. Take down curtains or other furnishings in the room. You can also cover light figures and electrical outlets to keep the dust out. You can seal off the room with plastic over the doors to keep the mess somewhat contained.
We rented a large sander from a home improvement store to sand the majority of the floor, but those large sanders leave areas along the edges of the rooms that require a smaller hand sander. We also used the hand sander on the stairs.
The large sander requires you to maintain a regular speed so you don’t take too much off a certain area. You’ll also need to physically move it from your vehicle to the room. Once you move on to the smaller sanders, you’re on your knees running the sander back and forth over the areas. It gets tedious.
You’ll also spend a lot of time bending, crouching and crawling around on your knees once you actually stain and varnish the floors. If you have limited mobility, you might want to hire a professional.
It’s Time Consuming
Refinishing a hardwood floor is not a one day project. If the floor is currently covered with carpet, you’ll need time to rip up the carpeting and remove any staples left behind. Sanding is a time-consuming step, as is the cleanup of all of the dust. You want all of the dust off of the floor before you start staining and finishing the wood.
The staining and polyurethane coats all take time to apply, plus you have drying time to consider. Depending on the type of polyurethane you use, the drying time can be several hours to a full day before you can apply the next coat. You have to wait even longer before you put furniture on the refinished floor — about a week for it to be fully cured.
You have many choices when it comes to refinishing a hardwood floor. Our wood floors had a nice light color naturally so we skipped staining. If you don’t care for the color or sanded too much and lost a lot of the natural color, consider a stain. You’ll find everything from very light to very dark stains. Make sure you can live with the stain color before you apply it to the floor.
When you do choose a stain color, do a test run in a hidden spot of the floor. Just like paint, the stain might not look exactly how you expect it to in your own home. If you’re happy with the look, proceed with the rest of the room.
Despite the hard work, I would refinish the hardwoods all over again if I had to. It was one of my first DIY projects. Every time I looked at the floors, I had a sense of pride knowing I did the work myself. If you have the time, mobility and desire, you can tackle a hardwood floor refinishing job.