Author Topic: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors  (Read 4061 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4439
Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« on: March 16, 2015, 06:12:38 PM »
We just bought a house. Yay! But the hardwood floors are in pretty bad shape. It wouldn't be such a problem, but the hardwood is by the back door (wet shoes), in the kitchen, and under the dining room table--and we have preschoolers.

Mr. FP assumes we would need to pay someone to do it. But I know that my mother, who is admittedly handier than me, redid hers several years ago. She had to redo the first room she tried, though.

Some extenuating circumstances:
1. We have two children under age 5.
2. I work part-time and Mr. FP works full-time.
3. Several stairs leading from the back door to the kitchen are involved.

Is this doable? What would the project be like? Can I sand and finish one section at a time, or do I have to do it all at once? Are the stairs a deal-breaker? What about the kitchen--am I in danger of damaging my appliances and/or cabinets? Are the savings large enough to cover  child care if Mr. FP is not interested?

I don't like the idea of paying someone to do it, but Mr. FP will be hard to convince.

firewalker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2015, 06:46:02 PM »
Hardwood is gorgeous IMHO! Do it in sections, as small as practical...the areas with the most visible display and least dirty traffic first. Invest in rubber backed runners for the dirty areas. For the mud room and other disaster areas, surrender! Those extreme areas need tile and a floor drain.

CowboyAndIndian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1470
  • Location: NJ, USA
    • KOWines: Deep discount wine/spirits store.
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 06:55:13 PM »
This is not something I would do.

A drum sander if not used properly can chew up the wood.

You also have 2 small children in the house, the dust thrown up by this is awful.

Also, after putting down the polyurethane, You need to not walk on the floor for at least 24 hours (from what I remember, it gets harder as it dries more, so I was told, go away for a 4-5 days so the smell would reduce and poly would dry)


Mrkineticz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 77
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 10:09:57 PM »
This is not something I would do.

A drum sander if not used properly can chew up the wood.

You also have 2 small children in the house, the dust thrown up by this is awful.

Also, after putting down the polyurethane, You need to not walk on the floor for at least 24 hours (from what I remember, it gets harder as it dries more, so I was told, go away for a 4-5 days so the smell would reduce and poly would dry)



He is correct once you sand  the wood there will be alot of dust. If you refinish in pieces you will have dust all over the place to clean then get dusty again then re clean all over again. if you have a full weekend of time to do it its very doable. 

Also it depends on how bad your floors are and what color you want them to be stained or if you want to preserve the natural color of the wood. here is a link to simplify refinishing

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20333774,00.html

All you have to do is

-remove furniture in the way
-sand with multiple levels of sand paper (i prefer coarse sand paper then medium grit sandpaper then fine sandpaper.
- then apply water based polyurethane


Bstarr

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2015, 10:26:59 PM »
Imagine the tone and definition you will gain in your arms from such a project... Free gym.

jbfishing

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Earth
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2015, 10:48:14 PM »
We refinished our hardwood floors ourselves, but before we moved into the house.  It is incredibly dusty.  The walls and ceiling must be wiped down and the floor spotless before you can put the finish on.  You don't want dust in your new finish.  It could be done in sections but the transitions between sections would not match well.  Really need to apply the finish all at once.  All furniture and appliances need to be moved out whether diy or hire it out.  So if you are going to move everything out anyway you could just refinish yourself.  But you want a plan to get it done over just a couple of days because it will be inconvenient.  The dust is not healthy for anyone but especially kids, so tape up doors, keep kids out, and use a mask. It is  big project but certainly doable.  There is lots of diy info online to help figure it out.  God luck.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11050
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 12:14:19 AM »
You might want to consider tile at entries.  My house has this and it makes life a lot easier.

Who puts wood in a kitchen?  There is always water.  Tile, vinyl, anything waterproof, makes a lot more sense.

kendallf

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1057
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 01:10:18 AM »
I helped a buddy of mine do the floors in our house a couple of years ago (65 year old oak floors).  They came out beautifully, and it really wasn't a huge deal.  The key to making it painless is, of course, the right tools -- in this case, he had the giant drum sander, another rotary sander (looks like a floor buffer), hand sanders, and scrapers for the corners. 

If the big drum sander has a big vacuum attached, it really won't be too dusty.  We did vacuum an entire trash bag of sawdust during the drum sanding.  We mopped the floors, then did all of the staining in perhaps two hours.  A day to dry, then the first coat of poly. Dry a day, sand with the rotary sander using a screen (not very dusty), mop, repeat.  Three coats total, took about a week.

There is some skill to running the big drum sander; it has to stay moving or it will leave visible depressions.  Start somewhere that will be covered if possible, like under a bed.  :-)

RunHappy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 561
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, 05:27:49 AM »
I was a littler older than your kids but I was under 10 when I helped my dad redo the floors in our house and it is a hobby I have continued to this day (refinishing furniture).

I suggest try it.  Buy masks for you and the kids (have them decorate theirs), get a sander with a vacuum, goggles if you have a sander without a vacuum and if your stairs give you enough room.   I've done smaller surface area with a small "mouse" sander when I've needed to.  Start out with one stair at a time, until you get comfortable doing more surface area. Its really not that difficult, the hardest part is keeping people off it while waiting for it to dry. Use baby/pet gates where possible to keep traffic out.

Take pictures and then bask in your new knowledge.


Miss Prim

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
  • Location: Michigan
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 06:37:59 AM »
Sorry, I have to buck the trend and say don't do it!  You will most likely not be happy with the results and it is a lot of work!  It takes skill to use a drum sander and not tear up your floor.  There are a lot of projects I would do and have done around our house, rental and cottage, but this is not one of them.

                                                                           Miss Prim

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 07:52:26 AM »

A few random points:

* it isn't that drum sanders are so hard to use... it is that the *RENTAL* drum sanders are hard to use.  They are just not heavy enough.  They can bounce around and cause chatter.  The harder your wood is (depending on age and species) the more this comes into play.

* Depending on how much you need to sand... you might be able to get by with a random orbit sander.  These are NOT hard to use.  However, they just are not as aggressive as the drum sander.  If you have thick poly on there or uneven floors, you may not be able to get by with a random orbit.

* edges can be a pain in the ass.  Yes, there is an edging sander.  I found it harder to use than the drum.  I'd guess this is experience based and would get better with experience.  I had to hand sand my edges after using an edger to get out the swirl marks.  My floors were so uneven and had such thick poly -- there is no way I could have hand sanded them from the start... the edger was required.

* You might look at alternate finishes to poly.  I used a linseed oil based finish that you can walk on immediately and can put furniture on in 3 days.  Zero VOC.  Very DIY friendly.  It also allows some amount of repair -- resand a portion and refinish without doing the entire floor.  You won't, however, get that thick uber glossy finish.  (I find that to be a plus, but not everyone does.)

* I believe there is a specialized sander for stairs...  You probably want to check on that.  I did my stairs, but I was putting it in from scratch, so I actually pre-built stair treads and pre-sanded them before putting them in.

* One of the more common mistakes is not being aggressive enough on the sandpaper.  You're better off going really REALLY coarse at the start.  I started around 20 grit.  I wish I'd started at 12.  Again: my floors were extremely uneven and very hard... that might be more aggressive than you want to go... but if in doubt: aim for coarser.  If you go too light, you'll just have to start from scratch.

spokey doke

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 513
  • Escaped from the ivory tower basement
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 08:32:14 AM »
We did a house full of wood floors before moving in - they turned out nice, but it was a major PITA and I can't imagine doing it while living in the house.

You definitely don't want to be there when the varnish is drying.

I also can't imagine doing it in stages either - getting everything prepped, doing the work and all that cleaning, then waiting for floors to cure, then starting again with another section.

About the only scenario I can imagine is having a week off of work and the kids out of the house, and a place to stay for a couple days while the varnish cures. 

brandino29

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 08:37:33 AM »
Get a couple of quotes from local businesses that do it and then calculate how much it would cost you to do it yourself in time and money. 

I was considering doing it myself until getting a quote for $900, when it would've cost me an estimated $500 in renting equipment and purchasing material plus at least two full days of my own time and no guarantee that it would be a good refinish job.

Sometimes it's just not cost-effective to do it yourself. 

Nate R

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 341
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI (Bay View)
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 08:53:09 AM »
Get a couple of quotes from local businesses that do it and then calculate how much it would cost you to do it yourself in time and money. 

I was considering doing it myself until getting a quote for $900, when it would've cost me an estimated $500 in renting equipment and purchasing material plus at least two full days of my own time and no guarantee that it would be a good refinish job.

Sometimes it's just not cost-effective to do it yourself.

Same here, I just got a few quotes, and after all the paper and such I'd go through, it's not really worth my time to rent the equipment and do it myself.

justajane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2147
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 09:07:51 AM »
Why not wait until the kids are older? We have kids your age as well, and while our original hardwood floors (1920s) are not in the best of shape, we decided to wait until the kids are older to refinish them. Our reason? Because then I don't have to stress over them spilling things or scratching them. You can only refinish hardwood floors a certain number of times before they have to be replaced altogether.

Otherwise I would vote for the spot sanding/polyurethane approach. Just work on what looks bad.

We have a brand new addition with new hardwood floors, and already a board is warped from where the kids melted snow this winter without my knowledge. In hindsight, I probably would have put tile at the door, but it didn't match the style of our bungalow. I am much more relaxed when they play in the original house rather than the addition, in large part because of the pristine hardwood floors.

As far as the rest of the house, it's patina, right?

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 10:28:57 AM »

Otherwise I would vote for the spot sanding/polyurethane approach. Just work on what looks bad.


I'm pretty sure you can't spot treat poly.  It wants to go from wall to wall.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4439
Re: Convince me to refinish my own wood floors
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2015, 09:07:12 PM »
Why not wait until the kids are older? We have kids your age as well, and while our original hardwood floors (1920s) are not in the best of shape, we decided to wait until the kids are older to refinish them. Our reason? Because then I don't have to stress over them spilling things or scratching them. You can only refinish hardwood floors a certain number of times before they have to be replaced altogether.

Otherwise I would vote for the spot sanding/polyurethane approach. Just work on what looks bad.

We have a brand new addition with new hardwood floors, and already a board is warped from where the kids melted snow this winter without my knowledge. In hindsight, I probably would have put tile at the door, but it didn't match the style of our bungalow. I am much more relaxed when they play in the original house rather than the addition, in large part because of the pristine hardwood floors.

As far as the rest of the house, it's patina, right?

Because unfinished floors are so hard to clean! I have tried to clean macaroni and cheese from an unsealed floor and it was awful. Plus, I feel like having exposed wood is damaging the floor, too, because every little spill seems to soak in, and we've only been here five days! We are mulling whether it might be possible to switch to tile in the kitchen, but the layout is odd for that--it would mean kind of a weird break between the hardwood and the tile. Plus, it looks bad. But I think we need to get unpacked and study the house a little before we totally decide what to do. I find myself leaning toward having it done professionally, but haven't gotten quotes yet. Thanks for weighing in, everyone!