One house project we decided to finally tackle this past fall was ripping up all of the old carpet in the living room/dining room and refinishing the hardwood floors underneath. Shortly after my parents purchased the home back in 1979 , they ripped up the existing carpet and replaced it with a beautiful one of their own. That being said, I still wasn’t sure what the floors were going to look like when we finally removed it.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t like a kid in a candy store when I finally set to work removing the carpet! I said a nice little prayer for the money my parents spent on the wool carpeting, and off to work I went! It was so satisfying to take a utility knife and start slicing the carpet up! 🙂 I was rewarded with BEAUTIFUL maple hardwoods underneath!
I really wasn’t sure what the floors would look like, so I was pleasantly surprised to find them in very good condition. Aside from some paint drips and minor cracking, they looked great! We decided to do the refinishing ourselves. If they had been in horrible condition, I would have consulted a professional, but thank GOD that wasn’t the case. 🙂
So how exactly do you go about refinishing your hardwoods? Here’s what you need to do:
List of Supplies
You won’t need a ton of different supplies, but you will need some specialized equipment.
- Drum sander. You can rent a drum sander from Home Depot (about $60/day depending on your location). You will need the sander for at least a full day (and maybe more, depending on the size of your room).
- Sanding Sleeves for the Drum Sander (you will get them in various grits, working from rough to smoother). Again, the number you need will depend on the size of the room and the existing condition of the floors.
- Floor Edger (7-inch) with sanding discs in various grits. You can rent sander from Home Depot (about $42/day). While you may think you can skip this sander and do the edges with a palm sander, don’t! It will go SO MUCH faster with an edger, and the extra cost to rent it is worth the time and effort saved!
- Ryobi Corner Cat or other small, angled sander to get into corners. Pick up a few packs of sanding pads for each in various grits.
- Floor Mop and lambswool heads (for stain and polyurethane). Grab a few, because you will likely go through more than one between coats.
- Stain (in the color of your choice).
- Polyurethane Coating. I choose a low VOC coating, and I wish I had chosen a lower VOC stain as well. Even with proper ventilation, stains STINK!
- Safety Glasses— these are a must when sanding! You never know when a splinter or stray finish nail or staple might fly up!
- Respirator— This is also a must for using stain and polyurethane. You DO NOT want to be inhaling these fumes!
Refinishing the floor will take a few days, so make sure you block out the appropriate time for the project. If you live in a cooler climate, it’s definitely helpful to schedule the refinishing in warmer temps, so you will have faster dry times and you can leave all of the windows open!
- Remove all carpet, carpet padding, staples, and carpeting tacking strips around the edge of the room.
- Sweep and vacuum the floor, double checking for stray staples or nails (you don’t want to go over them with the drum sander or edger!).
- Use the drum sander and floor edger to sand the floor, working from a coarser grit to a finer grit of sandpaper (this will depend on the condition of the floors). If your floors are really marked up and in bad condition, you will need to start with a rougher grit. Choose about 3 different grits to work through over the course of sanding.
- Vacuum up any remaining dust and wipe with a damp cloth before applying stain.
- Pour your stain into a paint dray, and use the mop with lambswool head to apply to the floor in even strokes. Don’t go over the same space multiple times– just coat once!
- Use a paint brush or foam brush to get corners and near edges.
- Allow the stain to dry and decide whether or not you want to apply another coat. It generally takes about 8 hours for the stain to dry completely. During drying it will smell A LOT. It’s best to open windows and leave the space until it’s dry. Remember to wear your respirator when applying stain and polyurethane!
- When you like the result of the stain, you will then apply several coats of polyurethane to seal it. We chose to use a water-based polyurethane (due to lower VOCs), but you can choose whatever you like.
- Apply the polyurethane and allow to dry completely. When dry, light sand any rough areas.
- Apply another coat of polyurethane. Repeat if desired (with light sand in between).