5 Things To Know Before Refinishing Old Hardwood Floors
One of the earliest DIY renovations we tackled at the #totsreno Farmhouse was refinishing the original hardwood floors. The floors are almost 100 years old and quite a challenge to restore. Here are the tips and tricks I learned while refinishing hardwood floors for the first time.
Creating beautiful hardwood floors is a lot of work
Like, a lot of work. I went into the project thinking we were going to have the entire house (4 bedrooms, hallway, huge living/dining space, additional room and kitchen) done in 3 days. Granted I thought it was going to be three LONG days but three days nonetheless. Nope. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I think it took two of us 6 LONG days with full-time daycare to get it done (minus the additional room and kitchen). There is a reason why people hire professionals for this.
Know what type of sealer or paint is on your floors
The house was a foreclosure and as such it was not well looked after. Each room had its own unique challenges. The living/dining space had raw wood with no finish left and the office had a thick layer of yellow paint. The worst room was my daughter’s which had carpet glue UNDER a layer of thick brown paint. Because of the differences in how the floors were treated we had to customize our sanding to fit. For example, normally when you sand floors you start with 60 grit sandpaper and end with 120 grit. To remove the carpet glue/paint we had to go with a ‘tear your flesh off’ grit of around 20. While we did this room we asked ourselves why we were refinishing old hardwood floors.
Price out the Equipment
We rented a drum sander and edger (a must have – seriously) at a local contractor store. We saved about $20.00 a day versus a big box retailer. The local store also charged less for sandpaper. Shopping locally saved us a bunch of money so do not be afraid to shop around. Also, shopping online is a great idea too!
You need to stir the poly between each use
This may seem like a no-brainer but I made this mistake. We went with flat sheen clear polyurethane to seal the floors. I now know polyurethane is shiny, they add a special powder to reduce the sheen. This sediment settles to the bottom so you must stir the flat poly very well when you use it. I did not stir between coats on the second floor so some of the bedrooms looks like they have wet floor splotches on them. After working so hard on the floors this was not the look I was going for. I now need to hand sand and re-poly these spots.
Know when enough is enough
We are not professional floor sanders. At some point, we needed to call a spade a spade and leave well enough alone. When dealing with almost century-old floors the boards we uneven and there were spaces we just could not sand the paint off of (without potentially ruining them). I actually really like the way our floors turned out. They have a farmhouse vibe to them with the leftover paint in the crevices that I love. Sometimes these things work out for the best. So this is how refinishing old hardwood floors can work out.
Not All Hardwood Floors can be Refinished
We also did not refinish the kitchen and additional room floors like we intended. Instead, we covered them with laminate. Why? They were in much rougher shape than we thought. Many floorboards would have been replaced and under the ugly stick on tile, we exposed deck boards from a previous patch job. Instead of trying to ‘put lipstick on a pig’ we decided to cover it up with laminate until we can save enough to have a professional fix the floors.
Refinishing the floors was a great investment into the home. We got to leave a lot of the original charm which was important to us.
Have you ever been involved refinishing old hardwood floors before? Make sure you leave your favourite tips and resources in the comments.
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