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Nivk 08-01-2011 06:41 PM

Refinishing Painted Hardwood Floors
I'm looking for advice on refinishing my floors. I tore out the carpets last weekend and was fully prepared to install a laminate floor, but the wood was in better shape than I would have expected (the house is over 100 y.o.). So, now I'm thinking of renting a drum sander and refinishing them all. This may be a harebrained scheme... but the floors were so awful before I don't think I can make them any worse.

However, a 2 ft perimeter of the living room and all of the upstairs rooms had been painted. I checked the paint for lead and it is lead free, but I am unsure if I can sand it directly or if I need to strip it first. I'm hoping I can just sand and avoid stripping.

Also, I know its a long way off, but what are some recommended finishing products? I've seen mixed reviews of the Varthane water based polyurethane that they sell at the local Lowes. I probably won't stain. I just want a clear poly finish.

Thanks for any advice!

oh'mike 08-01-2011 08:33 PM

A couple of thoughts----what kind of wood--100 year old houses frequently used Fir (pine) for upper floors.

The lead check--did you scrape down to bottom layers? A floor finisher friend got a bit of lead poisoning while sanding an old painted floor---I'd be sure to wear a very good respirator for that job.

No stripping is required--you will eat up a lot of paper----

Before you decide to DIY this job--check with a couple of floor finishers--the price to have it done may be much lower than you think.---Mike---

Nivk 08-01-2011 10:03 PM

Don't know what type of wood & not sure how one would tell. Fir or pine sound like good guesses...

I did scrape down and tested the floor paint for lead in several places so I'm pretty confident about that. Plus I found some lead paint under a few coats on the kitchen cabinets so I'm sure I would have picked it up had it been on the floor.

Glad to hear I don't have to strip the paint.

As for the professional estimates I've called a few places and they all tell me 2.50-2.75 per square foot so I'd be looking at like $600 a room x3 rooms. Sounds like a lot of money for something that seems pretty doable.

oh'mike 08-02-2011 06:41 AM

Give it a shot!!--

If you post a picture that shows the grain of the wood,someone will identify it for you.

jarheadoo7 08-02-2011 07:05 AM

im a pro painter but never finished hardoowd floors before until last month I tackled the bedrooms in my house.. they came out a w e s o m e .. i rented the orbital floor sander form home depo and used my orbital palm sander for the edges (yes you will need to go back and do the edges)... the orbital floor sander is VERY USER FRIENDLY...but this also translates into takes a lot of time.. so you wont get gouges in your floor but you will spend at least 10 hours sanding a 12x14 room to bare wood and back up to an 80 grit,, ( i went 24, 36, 40, 80..then stained and poly sanding with 220 between poly coats)

paint on the floor? if its lead free sand away.. i sprayed my doors/trim and had plenty of overspray on the floors..your taking the floor to bare wood anyway so the paint will come off as its sittin on top of the old varnish.

i used minwax oilbased stain (english chestnut) and the minwax Poly for Floors ( it says "for floors" on it) in a satin finish..

1st coat of poly let dry sand with 220, 2nd and third then sand with 220, then final topcoat.

i used a synthetic paint pad to apply the stain and paint, i tried the lambswool for the final coat and it left the finish very uneven. another topcaot with the synthetic and i was back in business..

when you stain make sure you wipe off the excess WITH the grain and lift gently on the end of your strokes ( feather it)
when you poly make sure you have lots of LIGHTS to see the pooling and puddles and feather them out.. be careful of drips and dont be afraid to put it on thick.. but dont load it up so it pools it will look like crap.

good luck!

Nivk 08-02-2011 07:36 AM

Wow, so you started with 24 grit? I was thinking of starting with 36. But I definitely need to take off a significant amount from the top to get all the paint and scratches. That's why I was planning on going with a drum sander instead of an orbital (hopefully that will speed things up a bit too - 10 hours of sanding! yikes!).

Thanks for the finishing tips, Did you use an oil or water based poly? One thing I read mentioned that you may not need to sand between coats with the water based, but I don't see why there would be a difference.

oh'mike 08-02-2011 07:41 AM

Floor finishers typically use a floor buffer with a screen after the second coat --then apply the final coat after vacuuming.

Nivk 09-17-2011 08:36 PM

Alright! Well I did it & I have to say it was quite a success. It really makes a huge improvement to the house, but man it was a tremendous amount of work! Jarhead007 was right... at least 10 hours a day sanding for 4 days to do 3 rooms and a hallway & that's not counting the time to do the stairs or finish!

I followed the procedure the guys outlined above and one other source of info that was very helpful was this:

I ended up going with a with a series of 24 - 36 - 60 - 100 grit papers and as mike said, I went through a ton of the 24 & 36 getting the paint off. The edging was especially bad since there was more paint around the perimeter of the room.

The local rental company rented the same sanders mentioned in the pdf and they really did a great job. I had a lot of unevenness & some warped boards and those machines took care of all of it. Once I got all that paint off I realized I had some really great looking wood floors (pine I think ?).

I didn't bother buffing before or between coats of finish since even after all that sanding there are still many imperfections so it was never going to be perfectly smooth. Besides this wood is 170 yrs old so I think it makes for a cool look.

To finish I vacuumed, wiped it clean with a damp cloth & used 3 coats of Minwax water based polyurethane & it looks great! So thanks for the tips... I couldn't be happier with the results!

oh'mike 09-18-2011 06:16 AM

Nice work! You should be pleased---Pine for sure---Good job.

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