Refinishing Our Hardwood Floors

After months of living with unfinished hardwood floors, we have finally completed them!  Back in February we started this project by uncovering the original hardwood that was hidden under our carpet.  What a find to discover beautiful real hardwood!  

In March, I shared with you all our progress of replacing the wood that needed to be repaired.  We knew that refinishing was going to be a big task that required us to rent a sander so we put it off until we had done the proper research and had the available time to work on it.

When Memorial Day Weekend rolled around, I started hinting at finishing the floors.  Brent had that Friday off giving us a four day weekend to finish the project.  We researched what we needed to do, called my mom to come help, and got to work.

There are a lot of opinions out there on what type of sander to rent when needing to sand wood floors.  Because the majority of the wood was not new it had plenty of character and marks on the floor.  Since the floors had already been well loved we did not need to be as careful when it came to preserving the wood.

We decided to rent a drum sander even though we were advised against it.  A drum sander is much rougher on the floor making it a riskier choice but thanks to YouTube, we knew what we would be getting ourselves into.  With how much work we had ahead of us, having something that would sand a little bit rougher got us through the work much more quickly as well as evened out the floors well.  We were working with new wood, old wood, and heavily stained wood.  Being able to work out the variety of colors easily saved us a lot of time and headache.

We then used smaller hand sanders to get the outer trim.  

Here is a little time lapse video we put together during the process.  It covers the sanding, filling in holes with a mixture of sawdust and wood glue, and staining.  It's quick and fun and shows the bulk of our work that we did over a period of two days.

Home Depot's rental program offers a deal where if you rent a tool at the end of the day you can have it up until 9am the next day for the four hour rental price.  Being the bargain hunters we are, we jumped on the opportunity and worked through the night.  You can see in the beginning that we start our work as the sun is setting.

A lot of grunt work.  But totally worth it.  I mean, look at all that sawdust.  Brent thinks we took off about a quarter of an inch off the floors.  That's crazy talk.  No wonder I am still dusting the entire house.

For the stain, we tried a few variations of one stain on extra wood we had.

We lucked out and were sold on the first stain I picked out.  The finish is Minwax Early American.  I wanted something slightly darker than the original wood color with more of a dirty brown hint (versus orange) to create contrast with our light walls and white furniture.

The stain just gets wiped on.  It was pretty fast with three of us.  Once we got past the sanding, it was all downhill from there.

The sanding helped even out the new wood and the old wood where you cannot even see a difference.  But the few areas that were stained pretty badly still showed through.  We are calling it character and decided that having imperfect "new" floors are allowing us to freely live with them without the fear of scratching them up.

The next day I put a few coats of Minwax Polyurethane.  I used a painting sponge on a pole which felt like "swiffering" the floor.  Also fast and easy.  

And then we waited.  For days.  Literally.  The first day we hopped to doorways to get to the bathroom and had to come through the side of the house to get into the kitchen.  It was ridiculous and silly all at the same time.  But worth it to let all that hard work cure completely.

And then I got to really enjoy and use the space.  Putting the furniture back and working out on the new floors were small dreams come true.  

That section on the floor unfinished is where the floor trim work was done for the fireplace hidden behind the wall.  We had high hopes that we could uncover the fireplace and so wanted to leave the floor trim work as is until we knew if we would be fixing up the fireplace or not.  The idea of a fireplace got my creative juices flowing, so I moved our large gold mirror over "the mantel."  I'm already seeing the potential!!!

Since I am always two steps ahead any project thinking of the next one, we would like to have built in book cases if and when we finished the fireplace.  Over the past few months, in the secret of my own mind, I have been letting go of this hutch.  It was beginning to feel too heavy and shabby chic for me.  I wanted to move more towards open shelving and less bulky furniture.  The potential of the fireplace got me to list it on Craigslist for a pretty high price, just in case someone really wanted it.

Well, someone really did want it.  I bought this hutch for $35 two years ago and it was one of the first paint projects where I really researched and refinished correctly.  I put in a lot of work and it somehow became my baby remembering what a great find it was and all the time I put into it.

I listed it for $300 thinking no one would want it for that much.  And then a few days later, a sweet couple came and picked it up without even asking for a lower price.  I was surprisingly emotional letting it go, even though I knew it was time.  But to know my little hutch was respected and loved enough to be sold for that much, was encouragement to send it along to a new home.  You will never be forgotten little hutch I loved.

The real trick now has been to find a place for all the stuff I had hiding in the hutch without a new shelving unit to store them in.  It took me a few weeks, but all those pieces lined up on our kitchen bar and living room has found a home.  With some serious purging and reorganizing I am proud to say I am down to one stack of plates, bowls, and a cake stand left.  It felt good to have an excuse to consciously look at all of our dishes we use for entertaining and live with what we really use.  Our next yard sale is going to be pure gold though, that is for sure.

And, of course, the decorating.  Seeing the same room we have lived with for almost five years get a completely new look.  The room has so much less than it ever has and yet it feels perfect.  Slowly purging and seeking after a simplified life over the years has been rewarded in these floors with a new mindset towards our home and how we use it.  

Up next is the reveal of our room fully decorated as well as the state of that fireplace!