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Old 10-31-2009, 11:33 AM   #1
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My Hardwood Floor Refinishing project


You can see photos I've uploaded here: http://www.diychatroom.com/members/r...shing-project/

I have been renovating my 1957 home for the past 6 years and this fall took on refinishing an oak floor. It was in good shape (not gouges, humps, etc), but the finish was shot! I was quite fearful of this project because of the sanding part of it. Six yrs ago I rented a floor belt sander to do another floor and it about killed me. My buddy helped me but it was really brutal on his body too. (and I haven't even mentioned the ungodly amount of dust it kicked up)!

Since my floors were in decent shape I originally thought I'd hand sand. I had a hand belt sander and a random orbital sander. I did not like the results I got with the hand belt sander so dropped that real quick and just used the orbital. I got 3/4 done and spent next 2 days trying to move again. The first go round really only scuffed the finish so it was non-effective.

I came across a website when I was googling - trying to find information (this was before I came across this forum which I'm lovin'). Take a lookie at it. www.hammerzone.com After seeing this and getting this information I was confident that I could handle using the floor orbital sander that Lowe's rents for $40/24 hours.

The only difficult part was getting the sander in/out of my van and house. That sucker is HEAVY!! Maybe 300 lbs! I got my neighbor to help me with that-bless his heart! Once it is in the house you won't have to lift it again. It works like a charm and did a super job on my 15x21 floor. It took 5 hours to make 5 go rounds (maybe more than I had to do) and the cost was $100 for rental and machine. SOOOO very worth the money!! You will have to address the corners/edges with another sanding tool/method as this sander can't get into the corners.

Be sure to get the dust off the floor before you do anything. Sweeping or running your household vacuum (my opinion) isn't enough. I brought in my big shop van and dragged that head across each board and was amazed at how much dust it pulled off. You know how the vacuum can really grab a flat surface and it's hard to pull it off? Well that's what you want. It is a hard pull but it works super. You can put masking tape on the bottom of your head if you are concerned about any scratches, but mine didn't need that. I did that twice (just to be sure).

A very lightly dampened mineral spirits rag across the floor afterwards works well. I used an old sponge head mop to push my rag around - that worked well.

I stained my floors a medium dark stain (Minwax English Chestnut), waited >12 hours before applying polyurethane (per mfg instructions). I listened to the wisdom of the members of this forum and used a (Varethane brand cost $7 at Lowe's) lambswool pad applicator screwed onto my pole. I used a cheap plastic dishpan to contain the stain. That I would not do again. Use a paint pan - much better! I had my daughter come over to give me a hand with this part. I applied the stain the length of the room about 18-24" swath (my arms are short) handed off that pole applicator and picked up the tool I used to pull off the excess stain (obviously wait whatever time you determine necessary for the stain to give the color you want). I used an old sponge head mop and some professional grade wiping cloths (no lint) wiped up the excess. I wanted to make sure I got all the excess so I pulled out my Quickie Mighty Mop http://quickie.com/Public/Products/Default.aspx?UID=&ProductCategoryId=34&ProductId=8 4 with its (already been washed/dried so no lint) cotton cover and swivel action and went over the swath with that for excellent results. Caution - I found that if I went with too wide a swath my short arms and lack of upper body strength prohibited me from being able to apply enough pressure to pull off the excess. Men have longer arms and greater strength so they don't have to think or worry about this stuff, but women do. The staining process took 2 hours. You don't need another person to do this, but I found she saved me steps handing me the next tool so that was helpful.

I went with Varethane Oil based polyurethane. Yes it was more expensive (maybe 25% more), but I asked lots of people and this was the one name brand that I kept hearing mentioned. I figured if I'm doing all this hard work, I don't want to chintz on this very important part. Oh yeah, I went with the high gloss for the first two coats and will finish using Clear Satin for the final two coats. Using the high gloss really gives wonderful depth and definition of the wood/grain. I got that tip from fellow forum members -- thank you very much!

Applying polyurethane, wait time in between, sanding or not in between -- that's where I got lots of different opinions. I reread the Varethane can last night and it says you don't have to sand in between if applied before 12 hours have past. If you wait more than 12 hours you need to sand in between. I read several posts both here and elsewhere that said to be sure to sand in between regardless of what the can of poly says to be assured good results. Oh yeah, and humidity factors in there too. So.. I've been applying the poly, waiting more than 12 hours, sanding, vacuum up the dust, tacking off with mineral spirit rag and applying the next coat. I'm sure there are many ways to do something, this is just what I chose to do.

The fumes are terrible! Be sure to ventilate your area really well and the vapor mask is a good thing! The first day I didn't open windows until after I was done with the application. DUMB! The fumes where so bad they were making me sick so I left. The next day I was a little smarter. I opened the 2 windows, set up a fan to get a cross breeze, shut all doors to all other rooms and even taped up a plastic barrier across an opening trying to contain the stink in the one area. That helped a lot!!

I applied the Varethane Poly using the lambswool pad applicator. I bought a refill ($3) as the one I used for the stain was really a mess after I was done staining and didn't clean up well enough for me so I pitched it. I first went around the perimeter of my room lightly painting on some poly. I went with a swath about 14-16", dragging the applicator pole the length of my room applying the poly, then went back, lightly pushing the pole to the beginning and finally lightly dragging the pole back down the swath to give an even application of the poly. Be careful not to overlap with too much product when you go to your next swath. Applying the 1st coat of polyurethane took me 1 hour.

I sanded in between coats using a pole sander pad ($7) and sanding screens. For the sanding between the 1st/2nd poly coat I used 120 grit. This was the first time I've used these sanding screens - great product! The sanding, including the vacuuming (carefully) and tack off. I used my home vacuum here - didn't want to take any chances of scratching and since the wood was already sealed I wasn't pulling dust from the bare wood grain.

This is just my opinion -- I think you can get a much more uniform application of stain & poly using a pole application than a brush. When you are so close to the floor with a brush it's hard to tell if you are being consistent. By standing with a pole application you have distance from the floor and can see the whole floor and can get better uniformity.

I'll post more photos as they happen.

Again a HUGE thank you to everyone for posting your information and questions on this forum. A kind thank you to What Have I Done for taking the time to answer my questions each and every time and for the encouragement. Viewing Dorf Dude's progress of his German House renovation (although not about hardwood floors) was very encouraging to me too! Thank you DD for your postings - amazing! Rox


Last edited by roxksears; 11-02-2009 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:07 PM   #2
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My Hardwood Floor Refinishing project


VERY NICE. No doubt about it you are a woman..that was a serious lot of typing you just did...LOL Woman always have a lot to say.

I showed your pics to some co-workers and they are as equally as impressed at your before and after pics. keep up the good work!!

Thanks for the props at the end. but the name isnt what I have done. It is WHAT HAVE I DONE.. like as in Oh my god what have i done...LOL

keep up the good work and give yourself a nice pat on the back, your floors are beutiful and your write up will help someone else in the future contemplating redoing their own floors.

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Old 10-31-2009, 03:15 PM   #3
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My Hardwood Floor Refinishing project


Sorry about the name WHID. Heck I call my kids all kinds of names -- you'd think I'd remember theirs!! LOL

Yeah, I know I got wordy, but I was thinking about someone else who might be in my shoes down the road so rambled on trying to give as much info as I could.
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:43 PM   #4
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My Hardwood Floor Refinishing project


I've been really busy and forgot to post until now - sorry.

The floor is done and I'm really pleased with the end result. Having never done this before I was a bit nervous, but no more! I'll do 3 more rooms in the spring.

The 6 panel doors are just about done and now I'm starting on my fireplace re-do. Wish me well! Thanks everyone for your posts - it was very helpful to me!
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