Saturday, April 21, 2012

Refinishing the hardwood - WAY harder than expected!

Here's the floor color before - the pictures don't show the grooves cut into the floor from a crappy sanding job done before
We liked the color of the floor fine when we moved in.  It wasn't what we would choose if we could pick it out from scratch but it was fine.  Problem is there were tons of swirly divits where someone in the past had tried to refinish it, dug in with the sander and made tons of grooves.  It looked terrible.  We debated back and forth and decided it was now or never on the floor.  Our entire house is hardwood (tile in kitchen and bath and the back bedroom has carpet).  If we were gonna tackle this project it HAD to be done whlie the house was empty.  So we decided to go for it!  We never knew what we would be in for.

First like any well respecting home reno-ers we priced having the job done for us.  When we found out it was going to be around $4000 we laughed and laughed and decided we'd do it ourselves or not at all.

Article after article read on the internet and questions asked we were ready.  * I will add a disclaimer that every article mentioned this is not a job for amateurs but we ignored that part and figured with some good ambition we could do it*

We rented a sander, and started sanding off the finish.  We sanded, and we sanded, and we sanded.  (As referenced before I was about 25 weeks pregnant and physically couldn't be on my hands and knees in the floor for very long at all).  Matt had the job of sanding the edges with the edge sander.  He literally spent an entire weekend crawling around this house on his hands and knees.  We sanded from Saturday morning until Sunday night LATE to get finished.
Very first swipe with the floor sander

We had decided to start in the very back bedroom sanding because we had no idea how it was going to go.  We knew then if it didn't work we would carpet it and just leave and live with the floors.  After sanding about half of that bedroom, seeing how long it would take and someone venturing out into the hall with the sander I freaked out and declared we had ruined our house and it was a big mistake.  To say we were unsure was not even covering it.

Matt worked and worked and worked.  He never complained one single time that he had this job and I couldn't help him.
Here's a fun fact that you know but don't realize....when you sand the finish off an entire house of hardwood there will be the most immeasurable amount of dust EVERYWHERE - way more than can be imagined - that has to be cleaned before it can be stained.

Bare wood floors!  BEAUTIFUL - can you see the potential?
After cleaning and cleaning and wiping down walls, baseboards, fixtures, and then sticky cloth wiping down the floor (Matt not me) we were ready to stain.

Matt and I LOVE dark walnut stain.  Everytime we see it used on tv we always say that's the one we would pick out.  We tried 3 samples and were easily agreed on which one to use - the dark one!

Anxious to get started.  He had the most massive headache the following day - I felt horrible!  That's with every window open and a ventilation mask.  Like I said....not for preggos!  I took this picture and left!
We never imagined how long it would take to stain.  I assumed a few hours - more like 6.  Since stain is oil based (aka stinks like crap and very "fumey") it wasn't safe for me to even be in the house with Matt while he did this.  The scariest part was that I'm the one who has always stained and refinished furniture.  Matt had literally never even stained a single piece of wood in his life, nor seen it done to know the process and here he was ready to apply stain (after hours and hours of painstaking sanding) to our ENTIRE house.  To say we were nervous is an understatement.  I had full confidence he could do this but needless to say it's a massive project to tackle for your first staining experience ever!

Our first look at the color!  I loved it!
Matt stained for an entire night and then poly coated, lightly sanded, wiped clean, and re-poly coated again for days.

Poly coat!  Sad news is that he discovered only after staining the entire house on his hands and knees a new tool that made things 100x easier and faster.  Poor thing!  Live and learn!

Here's the after!  

Though this is one situation where I'd say we will never do that again (and that's probably not even true) I am thrilled with the outcome and absolutely love the result.  I'm so proud of Matt and how hard he worked on this.  It was supposed to be something we did together and ended up being so much work for him!  But in the end sooooo worth it.  The floor is the exact color we would pick and is really a foundation that we laid in this house that is a base for the house looking exactly like we would want it to.

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