Refinishing our 104-year-old Hardwood Floors Ourselves

THE FARMHOUSE

If you followed along on the One Room Challenge, you already know that we refinished our hardwood floors.  And oh what a difference it made!  We went from paint-splattered hardwoods hidden under stained, rust-colored carpets

the-grit-and-polish-master-paint

to these lovely hardwood floors…

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You might be surprised to hear that despite being hardcore DIYers, Garrett and I rarely refinish our own hardwood floors.  The first time that we tackled refinishing floors ourselves, we found it to be timely, labor intensive, and super disruptive to our lives since we were living in the house.  Plus the finish didn’t seem to hold up nearly as well as a professional finish.  After that experience, we hung up our belt sanders and called in the pros to finish our hardwood floors (like at Ravenna and Dexter) and they turned out beautifully!

For some reason we decided to try our hand at refinishing the upstairs farmhouse floors ourselves this time, which totaled about 600sf.  It came down to a matter of schedule (it had to be right away so I could finish the One Room Challenge on time), money (we didn’t have thousands to spend on a professional refinish), and the fact that we just moved to town and don’t know any floor refinishers here.  Plus refinishers usually require a minimum hardwood area, and I’m not sure our 600SF would have been enough for a professional refinisher to bother with.  For all these reasons, we got busy and did the job ourselves.

In the end it was a biiiig job, but totally doable.  It was just as disruptive and labor-intensive as we remembered, but I think we ended up with a much more durable finish this time.  And because we were dealing with time and money constraints, doing a DIY refinish on the floors was absolutely the right choice for this project.

Here’s what we used:

// Materials

Drum sander (rental)

Orbital finishing sander (rental)

Palm sander

Belt sander

Wood filler

Polyurethane, satin finish

Putty Knife

Pad applicator

Dry rags and Vacuum

Safety equipment: ear plugs, glasses, respirator mask

Here’s what we did:

Step 1 // empty the room and prepare for dust onslaught.  Because there will be So. Much. Dust!  I recommend removing everything from the room and then hanging two layers of painters plastic on the doorways.  Dust will still leak out, but these precautions will keep most of it contained.  (Tip: it’s best to paint walls/ceilings before refinishing floors so you don’t get paint splatters on your brand new floor!)

the-grit-and-polish-hardwoods-pre-finish

Step 2 // we started sanding with a drum sander because our floors had a lot of layers to remove.  Our 104-year-old floors are covered with layers of paint splattered on top of a thick coat of finish.  Drum sanders can take some serious wood off your floors, so I’d only recommend using one if you have a similar situation, otherwise skip to step 4.  We used our palm sander and belt sander to get the edges and corners of the floor where the drum sander couldn’t reach.  We used 36, 60, 80, 100 grit paper for this step.  In all, this step took us about 18 hours for 3 bedrooms.

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Step 3 // we cleaned all the dust off of the floors using a vacuum and then dry rags.  Make sure rags are bone dry (make sure the rags are bone dry or you’ll raise the grain on your hardwood floors and have to sand again).

Step 4 // Once the floors were free of dust, we filled cracks with wood putty and let it dry overnight.  We filled the seams between boards that had seperated a little and any large gouges or cracks.  Again our floors are 104-years-old so there were quite a few of these spots!

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Step 5 // Using an orbital finishing sander, we sanded the floors using 100 grit. This machine is square and was able to get right up to the edges, so no need to pull out the palm and belt sanders to sand the corners.

Step 6 // we cleaned up the floors again using dry rags and a vacuum (see Step 3).  At this point, it’s important to make sure every last spec of dust is up, otherwise it’ll be permanently captured in the finish.  If we weren’t 100% sure, we vacummed twice.

Step 7 // If you want to darken your floors, this is where you would add stain, but we skipped this in favor of a natural floor.

Step 8 // Now that the floors were sanded and clean, we applied a thin coat of polyurethane using a pad applicator.  We poured a little of the polyurethane on the floor and then pushed it around, following the direction of the grain, with the pad.  We followed our products drying instructions, which was 2+ hours.

Step 9 // Once the floors were dry, we gave them a light sand using 100 grit sandpaper on the orbital finishing sander.  You don’t want to scuff up the floors or remove much finish, so keep a light sand.  This step is just to get rid of any imperfections.

Step 10 // We cleaned again…urgh, I hate dust! (see step 3)

Step 11 // Next we added 3 more thin coats of polyurethane (for a total of 4), letting each coat dry completely before adding the next.

the-grit-and-polish-week-4-floors

Step 12 // the last step was to clean…again!  This time we vacummed the floors, walls, and ceiling to get rid of all lingering dust.  Honestly, you’ll probably find dust everywhere, even outside the room!  We also gave the floors a quick mop with water before moving furniture back in.

All-in-all the process took us about a week of work, drying time, and supply runs.  With kids in the mix, moving out of the upstairs for that long was definitely inconvenient, but on the plus side, we saved a bundle.  I’ll tallly up the cost and share that on Thursday.

I’d love to hear from you guys.  Have you ever refinished your own floors?  Any tips or different methods you used?

xoxo

-Cathy

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Farmhouse Master // Floors, Theater Seats, & Art (ORC, Week 3)

THE FARMHOUSE

What a week!  We’ve been busy on the master bedroom for the One Room Challenge and it’s looking a bit better than last week. We’re about 75% through refinishing the hardwood floors, which look WAY better already, and in a stroke of magic, my eternally-backordered Skyline rug finally arrived (!!!).  Plus, I found the perfect chair for the corner by the windows (or it could be a total bust…we’ll see), and picked up vintage theater seats at a salvage shop in Seattle.  With all this Luck, I feel like I should buy a lottery ticket 😉

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The floors might not look amazing yet (that’s wood filler all over them, which will be mostly removed during the final sanding), but give the hardwoods another couple of days and they will be stunning!  Our floors are fir and 104-years-old and over time they’ve been splattered with paint, covered in carpets, and generally shown no love. So I couldn’t be happier to revive these beauties!  They deserve it.  Stay tuned next week for the finished product.

Speaking of the next week, I’m going to be cleaning up my vintage theater seats (I shared a picture of them over on Instagram).  I haven’t quite decided if I’ll strip the paint from the arm rests or leave them green.  Either way, I’m pretty excited about them.  Sometimes when I talk about vintage theater seats, people look at me kinda funny, so I wanted to share my vision with you guys.

sources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Cool, right?!  The vintage theater seats I found were pulled out of a middle school in Tacoma, WA and date back to the 1940’s.  They were a good price, so I bought a few extra sets thinking I could use them elsewhere at the Farmhouse and/or for a client project we’re working on. Needless to say, you’ll be seeing a lot of them on the Grit and Polish for the foreseeable future.

One thing I haven’t been quite so decided on for this room is art.  I always struggle with choosing art at the end of a renovation.  Give me an entire kitchen remodel to do in 7 days and I’m good, but when it comes time to pick art and pillows, I hem and haw for months. Of course I don’t have months left on this project, so I’ll be making my final choices soon.  One piece of art we know we want is a print for the large wall across from the bed.  We’re imagining something that you can get lost in while you fall asleep.

the-grit-and-polish-art-wall

I’ve been looking on Etsy, Minted, and the Costco image gallery, and there’s a lot of prints that I LOVE, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.  I guess I’m not sure if I’ve found the one yet, but here’s what I’ve been hemming and hawwing over:

 sources: 1. “New Beginning” by Kai Samuels-Davis | 2. “Mornings Away” by Emily Jeffords, Minted | 3. “First Frost” by Lou Wall, Costco | 4. “To Pieces” by Clare Elsaesser, Etsy | 5. “Mother Embrace” by Kate Ahn, Minted | 6. “Disguise” by Clare Elsaesser, Etsy | 6. “Scenic Droplet” by Isabella Burton, Anthropologie.

 

My favorite is number 4 and Garrett really likes number 1.  What do you guys think?  Any prints stand out to you?  Or better yet, any other recommendations for art?

In case you missed them, here are my ORC posts from Week 1 and Week 2.

one-room-challenge

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. The anti-helicopter parent. This is sooooo Garrett, minus the seemingly sexist tone and the roof thing.

p.p.s. did you guys catch this home tour on coco+kelley this week? I’ve been back to look at it three times already – it’s just so good!

p.p.p.s. I’m excited to read Chip and Joanna’s book.  Has anyone read it yet?  I’m dying to hear what you thought!

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