Dexter Hardwoods Part II: Refinishing 110-Year-Old Oak Floors


Last week we had the kitchen, dining, and living room hardwood floors professionally refinished.  And let me tell you…they look amazing!

Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures taken before boots tracked dust on the floors and we were mid-process laying red rosin paper over the floors (to protect them for the duration of the renovation).  But hopefully these photos give you a glimpse of just how lovely they are!

The Grit and Polish - Hardwood Refinish transitionThe Grit and Polish - Hardwood Refinish kitchen 3

We went with 3 coats of sweedish finish.  Two coats is pretty common, but since our properties often end up as rentals (not to mention we have a dog and kids who aren’t exactly easy on the floors), we like the durability of a third coat.

The floors in the living and dining rooms are 110 year-old oak.  As I mentioned before, these floors were top-nailed, so we spent a good chunk of Sunday setting them one-by-one using 1/32″ nail sets.  Considering there were one billion nails, this was a tedious task.  But luckily we have some pretty awesome friends that came over to help.  Many hands made for light work, and we were done in a matter of hours.  Our hands, on the other hand, were aching for days afterwards from gripping those nail sets.

Okay truth time.  I did a quick estimation on just how many nails there really were in the dining and living rooms and it came out to 5,400. Yup that’s pretty much one billion!

The Grit and Polish - countersinking top nails in hardwood floors

The refinishers filled the holes we created with the sets and sanded them down with the rest of the floor.  This is how the top nails look now:

The Grit and Polish - Hardwood Refinish top nails

We also had the brand new oak floors in the kitchen finished.  As you probably remember, these were laid by Garrett and yours truly a couple of weeks back.  I love the look of hardwoods in kitchens.  I know some people swear under their breath at the thought of wood floors in kitchens, but we have them in every house we own and I’ve never had a problem with it.  Here have a look at these beauties:

The Grit and Polish - Hardwood Refinish Kitchen

Having the same flooring throughout the kitchen, dining and living rooms really helps our small living space feel bigger, don’t you think?!  I can’t wait until the cabinets are painted…these floors are really going to pop!

So I should probably address a question I think you may be asking yourself.  Why did a couple of renovation-loving, DIY-obsessed folks choose to hire out hardwood refinishing when it’s definitely something you can do yourself.  Good question!  We’ve refinished hardwood floors ourselves before but they didn’t hold up nearly as well as a professional refinishing.  We also had the Ravenna House hardwoods professionally refinished with 3 coats of Sweedish and have been so impressed by how durable they are, that we were eager to do the same thing for the oak floors at Dexter.

Next up is sanding and painting all the old fir floors in the hallway and bedrooms at the Dexter House.  We will be DIY-ing this effort for a few reasons, mainly budget and the fact that obtaining a long-lasting durable finish should be pretty easy to achieve.  It should be a fun experiment – I’ll keep you posted!

What do you guys think about the floors?  Do you have experience refinishing hardwoods yourself?  I’d love to hear about it!



p.s. I live in Seattle so of course I’m partial to house boats.  This 240sf floating home doesn’t disappoint!

p.p.s. When I’m gone.  Warning: this will make you cry, I guarantee it.  But read it anyway, it’ll make you smile too!

p.p.p.s. The best things Joy has ever ate…of course Seattle’s Top Pot donuts make the list!

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  1. Your floors look so beautiful! We just got ours done professionally, and ended up staining them to mask the discoloration of the 100 year old wood. We’re not sure what to do in the kitchen, but it’s good to hear you’ve never had a problem with wood in there! Do you use rugs around the sink or fridge to help prevent spills?

    • Thanks Becca! We haven’t stained our hardwoods before, but I’ve definitely been tempted. I hope your’s turned out lovely! We do not use rugs in the kitchen, not even in front of the fridge or sink. Sure we’ve had lots of spills (tons would be more accurate with a dog and toddler running around), but still no issues with the hardwoods. We try to mop up spills quickly, but that doesn’t always happen. We had a leaky hose in our fridge at Ravenna and woke up to puddles multiple days in a row. Even though water had sat on the wood for 8+ hours, there was no damage done.

  2. If you can, start in a room that doesn’t see as high of traffic as say, a living room. Starting in a smaller guest bedroom would have been better for us to get use to running the machines. We also would have finished less square footage before realizing the floor wasn’t looking the way we wanted it to.

  3. Hello 🙂

    I would like to know what’s the colour (brand and name) that you used to paint the floor, we are refinishing ours and I love this light colour

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