When one of our rentals became vacant, we had already planned to pull out the carpet and replace it with our “go to” vinyl plank flooring. To our surprise, there were hardwood floors underneath! We knew we had to refinish them without question. The house has 12 and 13 ft ceilings and was built in the early 1900’s. To have the flooring redone with the tall ceilings would create even more character and value!
Refinishing hardwoods is about 80% prep work (removing carpet tack strips, pulling staples and nails, sanding, more sanding, removing all of the dust, etc) 5% staining, and 15% applying polyurethane!
We rented a drum sander and an orbital sander from Menards. The drum sander was used to remove the previous poly coats and color from the wood. After the color was stripped back we used the orbital to smooth the floors out and remove any major imperfections. We used a handheld disk sander and a random orbital sander to sand the edges of the floors. Luckily this time around, we had a friend (and former tenant and resident) helping us sand the floors!
After sanding, we had to wipe down EVERYTHING! Dust gets in every crack and crevice. You need to remove the dust so it doesn’t end up in the polyurethane! It gets everywhere! We started at the tops of the walls and slowly worked our way to the floors. Once everything above the floors was cleaned we wiped the floors with mineral oil to remove the dust from the floors.
Top tip. If you get water on your naked flooring it will leave marks that show once the stain is applied. Notice the bucket mark in this picture! The only way to remove that mark would be to sand the floor back and re-stain, so this time it stays (it adds character). If we would have sanded the water marks before we stained it would have “erased” those marks! We used Minwax Dark Walnut from Menards for these floors. We applied stain using the lamb’s wool applicator and wiped it up almost immediately. This gave us the sharp color contrast in the wood grains.
We let the stain dry for 24 hours and then started applying coats of poly. Remember, three thin coats is always better than one thick coat. We used Verathane’s water based semigloss polyurethane which has a dry time of 2 hours. IMPORTANT TIP, as you apply more coats, it may need more time to fully dry because the wood has already absorbed through the first couple coats, thus, creating a sealed barrier.
We would apply a coat after work each evening. Friday and Saturday we were able to apply 2 coats which finished out this project with 7 coats of poly on the floor. This should give us a nice thick barrier that will look good and last for a long time. You’ll notice in our afters, the wood is different colors. This is because there is different wood grades being used in each room.
Vinyl floors would have cost us approximately $2,800, whereas, redoing hardwoods cost us around $1,200 (plus a lot of sweat equity!) If we have a choice of redoing hardwoods, we will do it every time! The value added is priceless!
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