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Old 11-18-2009, 11:00 AM   #1
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refinishing maple hardwood


Just bought a new house and will hoefully close in a couple of weeks. I had a question about wood floor refinishing. the home has hardwood floors underneath carpet and linoleum. It appears to be maple flooring. The carpet was crap and the linoleum was old school. Iím not sure what the condition is of the floor until the carpet gets removed. If it looks serviceable Iíll refinish it. I've seen the Verathane orbital sanders at Lowes that you can rent. Are these good for stripping old floors or are they primarily used for new floor application? Those drum sanders are supposed to be good for removing old finish but Iíve heard they can be a handful and really tear the crap out of your floor if you don't know what you are doing.

Secondly, I've heard that Verathane is better than Minwax Poly. I have concerns about my pregnant wife being anywhere near poly finishes. I thought that if I tackled this project I'd do it as soon as I closed on the home before we move in. I also need to do some painting. How long would it take before it's safe for her to spend time in the house?
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:49 AM   #2
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refinishing maple hardwood


you cannot determine which sander you need until you see the condition of the floor. Poly for floors is different then poly for furniture. You can use water bourne poly. More DIY and safer for wife and the environment. Color will be much lighter which will be better if you do have maple flooring. Cure time is only 24 hours to not notice the fumes. No issue with the water based.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:59 AM   #3
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refinishing maple hardwood


New house or old house new to you?

If you can afford it, hire someone who knows hardwood floors to do this. It is not beyond the DIYer but I work on antique homes (1800s to 1920s or so mostly) and the folks I work with to refinish wood floors know all the tricks for blending stains, making color corrections, easing in repairs, and so forth. And, by the time you rent the equipment, and buy all the sandpapers and finishing materials retail you will not have saved any or much money.

Floor sanders are not for the faint of heart---literally. They are heavy beasts and awkward. Especially the drum ones will gouge a hole in the floor you are trying to restore while you wait that two seconds from the time it takes to flip the switch to getting a feel for the machine. The orbital ones, I suppose, are safer for the DIYer. My contractors think they are worthless but maybe for getting the surface defects out of a floor.

Before you get carried away, you might want to pull up a threshold or something to see how thick the wood is if you cannot tell from your explorations so far? You may not be able to sand much surface away in the first place if there is nothing substantial there. A lot of 50s 60s flooring went down really thin like 1/2 (or less in the hideous California home I bought once) for the look and I guess the idea it would soon be covered with linoleum and then carpeting. If it is that thin, you may want to just save all the chemicals and pull it up with everything else? You will hit the nails used to put it in place instantly if you try to sand down into it. It will be too thin to hold up to anything when you are done.

Last edited by user1007; 11-18-2009 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:14 PM   #4
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refinishing maple hardwood


Thanks for the info. so the water based sealers don't smell that bad? I was looking at the verathane website and they had a water based wood floor finish that said it had aluminum oxide in it to make the floor more durable. Anyone tried it? Water based polys stay clear while oil based polys yellow over time?
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:21 PM   #5
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refinishing maple hardwood


yes they have no smell, dry very fast and do not yellow as much as the oil poly.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:04 PM   #6
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refinishing maple hardwood


Water based floor finishes are the future unless you have remnants of oil-based products still stuck underneath them. Then, in my opinion, you are creating a nightmare with them hoping they will adhere to or in any other way get along with or contain whatever you left underneath.

They are lovely to work with as they dry and can be re-coated quickly. Acrylics do not yellow, in theory.

Last edited by user1007; 11-18-2009 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:05 PM   #7
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refinishing maple hardwood


Speedster,

I just refinished my floors -- you can read more about it here:

My Hardwood Floor Refinishing project

You definitely don't want the oil based if you're worried about the smell -- oh boy!!

Personally, I am very pleased with my results and am glad I didn't hire it out. A couple friends recently had their wood floors done by the professionals and doesn't look as good as my floor does.

Good luck to you!
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:58 PM   #8
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refinishing maple hardwood


I just refinished my 1920s hardwood maple floors and can give a few tips since I had to learn the hard way.

1. Sander - it all depends on the size of the area and how much floor you need to remove. I started with the random orbital, but it wasn't taking off enough wood for the condition of my floor. I took it back, hit a real rental store and rented a drum sander. The drum sander with 20 grit takes off material FAST. Always keep moving. I thought I was moving quick enough when I set the sander down, but after staining I found gouges. Also, I didn't spend enough time with the finer grits of paper to take out all the grooves from the 20 grit. Don't rush the medium and fine sanding.

2. Stain - Use plenty of clean rags. Move all the way down the direction of the grain and try to avoid lap marks if possible.

3. Poly - I went oil base because I read it had a higher durability. The smell is strong, but I was lucky enough to do it when I could leave the windows open.

For a perfect job, hire a pro. I would (and plan on) trying it again, but be aware there is a learning curve.

Good luck.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:04 AM   #9
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refinishing maple hardwood


Thanks both of you for the info. Roxksears your floors look fantastic. The sander you used is the same one I was referring to. I'm really interesting in seeing what condition my floors will be in once I remove the carpet.

Stubburn, do you have any pictures of your maple floors? I'd kind of like to get an idea of what mine might look like.

Lastly, the first things I really need to do before moving into this house is to remove some wall paper, paint, and refinish floors. In what order should I do these? I thought about painting before I pull the carpet out so I didn't have to worry too much about getting paint on my floors. Then I wondered if sanding and finishing the floors after painting will make the wall look dirty.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:08 PM   #10
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refinishing maple hardwood


Lastly, the first things I really need to do before moving into this house is to remove some wall paper, paint, and refinish floors. In what order should I do these? I thought about painting before I pull the carpet out so I didn't have to worry too much about getting paint on my floors. Then I wondered if sanding and finishing the floors after painting will make the wall look dirty.

I'm sure there are many opinions on this. I didn't have carpet to remove but painting and hearth removal were on my list. I decided to paint first. Accidents happen and I thought - just my luck I'll do the floors first and then something terrible will happen and paint will get spilled on the newly finished floors. So....

I painted my walls first. Dust is an issue however. Some plastic may help keep the walls free of dust. If I had it to do over I probably would not have painted first. I had to wash my walls after the floors were done.

I would remove the wallpaper first as that can be a really messy job.

Good luck and thanks for the compliment on my floors.
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:48 PM   #11
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refinishing maple hardwood


if the floors are in poor shape rent a drum sander. Just start out with fine paper until you get the feel of the sander. Once you make a few passes and get the feel of lowering and raising the sanding head while in motion- you always have to be moving with the sander or you will get a divot, Once you get the habg of it switch to 36 grit and sand the whole floor then switch to 60 then 100 grit.

The orbital sander that roxsears used is excellent if your floors arent bad and simply want to recoat. very user friendly. Vacuum works well.
my 14 yr old actually sanded our floors- over 1000 sq feet and they look wonderful. It was new flooring and just needed surfacing . Here's my link
new wood flooring

get the carpet and post some pictures. this forum can get you going in the right direction.

I like oil based poly- old school and hold up well even to our big dogs!

I did floors in the past with water based poly and had a terrible time with scratches. It was an early water based product produced by PARKS brand. But since using it I have never ventured back to water based.
But defiantely keep ventilated and keep pregnant wife away!
Im used to the fumes but anytime I do floors when the homeowner comes around they are "FLOORED" by the fumes.

I use minwax or varathene with good results. varathene is slightly more potent smelling.

good luck post pics!
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:35 AM   #12
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I hope you will check the old flooring finish AND the paint you will remove to check for lead based products. Having a pregnant wife nearby would be a terrible risk to take. You might want to read up on lead abatement. I know a lot of the old flooring finishes had lead in them.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:59 AM   #13
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refinishing maple hardwood


Thanks for the tips. I did not realize that Flooring finsihes had lead in them. I've heard about paint and was always told that as long as you paint over it there was nothing to worry about. But sanding a floor creates a lot of dust and that would not be good if it had lead in it. How can I test for lead in the flooring. When I had my home inspection done the inspector said it can cost as much as $500 to test an entire house for lead. Is there cheaper alternatives? If it matters, My wife will not be in the house during the floor refinish and paint. Luckily I have some time off work coming to me and I'll be able to didicate a lot of time to this project.

I'll take a picture of the floor when I rip the carpet out. I'm hoping I can just get away with using the verathane sander. I seen one in Lowes the other day and asked the lady how much it cost to rent. She said that I'd just have to pay a $250 deposit and buying sanding disks that were $6/(pack of 3).
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:06 PM   #14
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refinishing maple hardwood


"She said that I'd just have to pay a $250 deposit and buying sanding disks that were $6/(pack of 3). "

I don't think she gave you the entire financial information. Yes, you have to pay a $250 deposit, but you will be charged a $35 $rental fee (24 hours)as well. It took me 5 hours to sand my floor (approx 15x21'). The price of the sandpaper was $5.46.. I used 5 of the 36 grit, 3 of the 50 grit and 3 of the 80 grit.

I used high gloss for the first 2 coats (used 1 1/2 gals) and clear satin for the last 3 coats (3 1/2 gals).

Maybe this will help you with planning your project. Good luck, have fun!
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Mariani View Post
yes they have no smell, dry very fast and do not yellow as much as the oil poly.

You've read the labels on water borne finishes, right? They're not any safer to breathe while applying & while they're curing than poly. You still need proper ventilation whn applying.
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