So, I talked a little last post about refinishing our floors. I thought I would give some more details for those of you contemplating ripping up your old carpet and refinishing your hardwoods. We made a LOT of mistakes and tried multiple things, but now we feel we know much more about refinishing floors. If we ever have the opportunity again
not that I would ever do this again we will be so much better at it. So, there are some bad spots (by bad spots I mean places where the stain pooled), but our floors are SUPER old and, well, at least they look better than they did! The reason we had pooling is because we wanted them super dark and the stain didn’t seem dark enough. But I’m getting a head of my self. I wish I took pictures of the actual process, but I was up to my ears in dust (literally) and didn’t want to bring my camera in to be destroyed! The most annoying part of this process, and I think Jeff would agree, is pulling up the carpet…well the mess you get after you pull up the carpet. So, once the carpet has been pulled up there are little staples, not to mention old carpet liner goop (if your carpet is over 20 years old). You have to get all the millions of staples out of your floor before you can sand it. We started out using pliers and I almost poked an eye out. We researched on google and found out about this tool called a Wonder Bar, we nicknamed it Wonder Bra (but that’s off subject). Though it is quite funny when Jeff is calling out asking me where his Wonder Bra is! lol Anyways this tool is a lifesaver. You can buy one at Wal-Mart and they cost less than $12. Okay, so you get up all the staples and then you scrape up, sometimes with your fingernails, all this foamy goop off the floor. That part was super gross. Next you need to rent a sander. We rented a U-Sander because that’s what Ace Rentals suggested. It won’t tear up your floors like a drum sander. So we bought tons of sandpaper ($1 a piece) in three different grits. Jeff didn’t trust me to hold on to the big machinery, so I got the amazing backbreaking job of using the hand sander to sand the edges close to the wall. Well, I advise you skip this part. It wasn’t until halfway through our endeavor we found out that if you use the side of U-Sander it gets within a inch of the wall. Anyways, we were trying to make everything perfect and I spent 3 days on my hands and knees sanding about 1000 square feet of wood! By the way, you are going to run through A LOT of sandpaper on the first grit (36). The first grit is the one that gets all the stain and finish off, the second two are to smooth the surface. Our sandpaper kept gunking up every 10 minutes are so from the old polyurethane on the floors. I have no remedy for this, but a few other people thought they did. DON’T LISTEN TO THEM!!! Here’s what we googled and here is what the Ace people told us (mind you after we had been sanding for hours). They said that they always put mineral spirits down and let it sit and it gets some of the finish up! Well, 3 wasted hours later, and out of pocket fifty more dollars, the mineral spirits did absolutely nothing! Our sandpaper still got gunky. Okay, then we researched and read where paint stripper helped get some of the finish up. Dummy us actually listened and went and bought two HUGE things of paint stripper. Total= $60. This was by far the biggest mistake of our floor finishing journey. The paint stripper not only made our house smell like words cannot describe for MONTHS, it had some kind of chemical reaction on the paint. No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t scrape the goop up! Goop = bad, moisture = bad, floor project = BAD! We bought a special scraper thing, another $15 wasted, and even that didn’t get the goo up. So we ended up gunking up our sandpaper even worse! I hope you aren’t laughing at how incredible naive we are in our floor finishing endeavors, because not even I can laugh about it yet! hehe Another note on stripping, do not buy the safer orange stripper. The orange stripper soaks into your floors and discolors them, which shows up after the staining! 1000 sandpaper pads later we have our floors looking reasonably sanded down to the bare wood. Now it’s time for the fun part, staining. Staining is very fun, but very messy. Each gallon of stain is supposed to cover 400 square feet of flooring, one coat. Okay so we bought 3, because we had over 800 square feet to do. We wanted them super dark, shiny, and chic. You will need stain, polyurethane (glossy or satin, we went with glossy “chic”) rubber gloves, a painter’s pole, a sheepskin covered square block thingy to administer the stain, lots of old lint free t-shirts or rags, paint brush (for edges and cracks), and mineral spirits to clean up. Now, directions from friends and smarter people than ourselves say to rub it on with the fancy sheepskin and then let it set for a minute or two (longer it sets the darker the color) and then rub it off with the rags. Here’s the deal, we wanted DARK, shiny, chic floors. We bought Cabot brand stain, because we were told it’s the best, in a Bombay Mahogany (with extra blacks and browns added). I wanted these babies to be almost black. When we applied the stain to our freshly sanded floors they looked red, I mean red, red. I almost cried. We started in the living room…bad idea. You need to start in a room in the back of the house where no one will ever see it! You think I’m joking, but I’m not! You will get better at this process as the day goes on. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT start staining in a room that people will see as soon as they come into your house! Okay so, I wanted them dark. We decided to just wipe the stain on, thickly, and then NOT wipe it off. If you know anything about staining floors, this was our other biggest mistake. It is always better to do multiple thin layers of stain then one thick layer! The drying time increases abundantly and that is bad. So our living room has pools of darker spots and isn’t very pretty. To explain why we didn’t do multiple coats starting out, is because we are very frugal people. A can of stain is somewhere like $40 for a gallon. We didn’t think we would have enough and, as you can see, we had already spent so much on unnecessary items. Anyways, as we moved to other rooms, we were learning. We figured that we would do it right in the other rooms and just do multiple layers. I think we did two or three layers, and though they never got as dark as I would have liked, they look much better than the pools of darkness in the living room. Come to find out our whole 1000 or so of square feet only took one gallon. We now have an extra gallon for touchups, which is more than enough. I think we are going to use it outside on our back wooden entryway thingy. On to polyurethane, we used glossy. I don’t know if it’s because of all the construction in here, but there are constantly flecks of lint on my floor. I think I would probably do a satin finish if I were to do this again, which I am not. I have been to friends houses with the satin and you can’t see lint and dust, maybe it has to do with our housecleaning skills, but idk? The satin looks more rustic, the glossy more shiny but dirty. Overall I do love my floors. Here is a step by step guide to floor staining without all the details, that you have now read. hehe
- pull up carpet, staples, foam
- get a u-sander, tons of sandpaper in 3 different grits 36, 60, 120
- go a medium speed over the floors, never stopping or resting on the sander
- make sure to get most of the finish off with the 36
- don’t skip the 60 and 120 because it affects the finish
- clean between each grit and clean especially well after the final sanding
- apply stain and let sit just for a minute, wipe in with rags
- go over one room, move to next room while first is drying
- wait a day until your second coat. keep applying coats until you are happy with hue
- apply polyurathane with the same sheepskin applicator. repeat.
There you have it! Now for some before and after pics!
This is our guest bedroom.
Hallway to the bedrooms.
Maybe you can click on them to see better detail! So, there it is, a LONG version of refinishing floors. I really hope you learned something today. Remember never be scared of trying new things. It is really worth it in the end when someone compliments your floors and you can take all the credit,
for the dark pools and all!