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Old 11-25-2008, 01:25 PM   #1
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Refinishing Painted Wood Floors

I just bought a home which has wood floors throughout. The upstairs is all painted over. I was hoping to refinish one bedroom (my office) and possibly replace the rest in the future when we can afford it. There is a clear separation between the wood floors in the office and the rest of the up stairs.

I would like some advice on where to begin. I need to get the paint off before I can even know if the floors will be in good enough condition to refinish.

Now, since I would want to refinish these floors, is there any point in using a paint stripper or should I just go straight into sanding?

If I had to replace the floor, what would I need to look for to determine where to begin--that is, would I be putting in the floor on top of the old or rip out the old first?

Any input to help me research this project would be much appreciated.



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Old 11-25-2008, 04:27 PM   #2
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The following will allow you to sand that paint off the floor without the mess of stripping off the paint with chemicals or possibly contaminating the house with lead dust.

You should be aware that there are companies that sand the polyurethane "varnish" off gymnasium floors using a floor machine turning a sanding disk and vaccuuming up the dust with a vaccuum cleaner.

Go to:

Left click on "Floor Machines" in the banner at the top and when the Rabbit 3 page comes up, scroll down to "Woodpecker".

Basically, except for the Swift, all four of these machines are simply modified Rabbit 3 machines. The Rabbit 3 is your basic garden variety floor machine made for maintaining a wide variety of floors.

The Rabbit Classic is a Rabbit 3 with a single speed motor instead of a two speed motor. I, for one, almost NEVER use the higher speed on my Rabbit 3. You only need a higher speed for polishing floor finish, and I never need to do that. The Stonechat is a Rabbit 3 that comes with five 40 pounds weights that you can put on the machine for maintaining (sanding marks out of) granite floors. The Rabbit 6 comes with a fluorescent light, solution tank and built in pump for bonnet cleaning carpeted floors. And, the Woodpecker...

comes with the fluorescent light and a vaccuum hose attachment to the skirt for sanding the polyurethane off wooden gymasium floors. A person could buy a Rabbit 3 and make it into any one of these machines by buying the necessary accessories.

If you look under "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" in your yellow pages phone directory, every one of the companies listed there will have at least one floor machine. There's no problem having a 1 1/2 inch hole in the TOP of any floor machine's skirt because cleaning solution or wax stripper would never splash out of that hole. As a result, you can modify ANY ordinary floor machine into a Woodpecker by:
a) drilling a 1 1/2 inch hole in the top of it's skirt somewhere, (plastic drills easily with hole saws meant for wood and every electrician will have GreenLee punches for cutting holes in sheet metal electrical boxes)
b) inserting a 1 1/2 tail piece from a kitchen sink drain through that hole and securing that tail piece in place with a 1 1/2 inch nylon beveled washer.
c) connecting a 1 1/2 inch ID vaccuum hose from the skirt of the floor machine to a vaccuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

Doing that will allow the floor machine to both sand a floor down and when connected to a suitable vaccuum cleaner, vaccuum up the dust created at the same time.

1 1/4 and 1 1/2 inch drains are the standard for bathroom and kitchen sinks respectively, so any plumbing wholesaler will carry a 3 inch long 1 1/2 inch tail piece for a kitchen sink. Also, 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 are the standard sizes of vaccuum hose cuffs in the janitorial service sector, so EVERY janitorial company will have 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inch diameter hoses on their vaccuum cleaners. The janitorial service company MIGHT not have a vaccuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, though, which you need to remove very fine dust that may contain lead from the paint. But, most likely they would have a vaccuum cleaner with a HEPA filter just to avoid complaints about very fine dust being in the air after they vaccuum a carpet (or whatever).

Any janitorial service company that has a vaccuum cleaner with a HEPA filter could sand down your entire second floor to the bare wood within one day's time. I don't know enough about refinishing hardwood floor to know whether it would be necessary to go over that floor multiple times with progressively finer sanding disks to have it ready for staining and polyurethaning, tho. In my estimation, it wouldn't take more than a day to sand all the paint off, but it may take several days to make multiple passes with successively finer sanding disks.

Note, however, that the round shape of the floor machine prevents it from getting into corners as a rectangular floor sanding machine could. The corners would have to be done with a regular machine, or by hand with power tools, maybe.

In fact, I'd venture to guess that if you printed this post off and showed it to some of the janitorial service companies in your town, the might even thank you if they were thinking of also getting into the hardwood floor refinishing business. All of them would know that they can use their floor machine with a sanding disk for refinishing hardwood gymnasium floors, but a lot wouldn't know how to modify the skirt on their floor machine to make it suitable for a vaccuum cleaner.

I did exactly the above when my sister asked me to remove the red eposy floor paint on her basement floor prior to laying VC tiles. (but my Shop Vac doesn't have a HEPA filter)


Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 11-25-2008 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:35 PM   #3
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Or, instead of vaccuuming up the dust, you could wet the floor down with a garden sprayer, sand it down with a rented floor machine while it's wet, and then use an ordinary wet/dry vaccuum cleaner to vaccuum up the dirty water.

That would completely avoid having to get a vaccuum cleaner involved, and that would avoid having to modify the skirt on the floor machine.
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Old 11-25-2008, 06:12 PM   #4
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I don't believe it would be a good idea to get old dried out wood wet when stripped. The wood would have a tendancy to swell, and the end results would be possible splitting. I am only going by what I have seen with my own house though.

I agree with what Nester said about the sanding, and a great idea on the conversion.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:23 AM   #5
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sanding painted floors

Before sanding, make sure that it is not lead paint you're dealing with. You don't want that airborne. Get a test kit at a hardware store to see. The other way to tell is if the paint has an alligator like look as it fades, then it's lead. If so, you'll want to strip with something like Multi-strip before, which is a lot of work. Perhaps strip on small area to see if the wood is worth it. Otherwise rip it out and start over again. Hopefully it's not lead, but just in case!
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