The house has taken on a huge transformation, but I think, perhaps, the biggest has the hardwood floors. I was thrilled when I realized that the entire house had the original hardwoods, and they weren't in too bad of shape. I knew I'd never be able to put new hardwood in the entire house, so I thought restoring them was worth a try. As you can see, the floors in the living and dining room weren't TOO terrible....but the kitchen was a whole other story.
The floors in the two front rooms must've had carpeting or likely linoleum sheets laid down, then stained, and a darker stain around the perimeters. There was huge stain, I'm assuming water damage, in the living room.
The bedroom floor had a linoleum sheet tacked down, and the floors underneath had never been stained. There was also a big water damaged spot from what I can assume was a leak from the adjacent laundry room. Other than that spot, these floors were in pretty good shape.
The kitchen floors were the bane of my existence. For realz. I wasn't sure what was under the linoleum tiles when I first got the house, so I pried one tile up (they were glued down and an incredible pain to get up), and....there were hardwood floors! Under a few inches of glue, of course! I had high hopes that I could somehow get the glue up and sand those babies down and salvage them. My friend helping me demo that day was convinced I would never be able to save them, so he was less than gentle when ripping up tiles, and dug several very large gouges in the floor. Ugh.
Once the cabinets were ripped out, I could see the original hardwoods underneath, which had never been stained. To remove the glue, I bought adhesive remover, followed the directions exactly, and with a little (A LOT) of elbow grease, scraped the entire floor, hallway and under the stairs and got to the wood again.
This small square is about the size I'd work with at a time. Pour the adhesive remover, cover with plastic, roll over it with a roller, wait 15-20 minutes, remove plastic, and scrape!
Once the floors were all scraped, it was time to fill all those nasty gouges. Additionally, we had patched the floor in several areas where we had changed the walls. We used wood filler and hoped it would take the stain the same as the wood......
After everything was scraped and patched, the last step was sinking all the nail heads that, over time, were higher than the wood floors. This part was tedious but necessary. I just used a nail set and sunk each and every nail.
Once EVERYTHING was nice and prepped, it was time to rent the sanders. Everyone, including the men at Home Depot's tool rental center, made it seem like this was a really difficult task and that a girl couldn't do it! So to prepare, I read several tutorials and blogs about sanding and refinishing floors, and got a lot of great tips. I rented a drum sander ($50ish) and a floor edger($50ish). I did the 24 hour rental because I knew it was a big job (1000 sq feet) and I'd need it! The price of the sanders is pretty reasonable, but it does start to add up when you factor in all the sand paper you'll need. I used a 36-grit, 80-grit and 110-grit(a decision based on my research). The sandpaper for the drum sander is much pricier($8ish per paper), and I'd recommend buying way more than you think you'll need, rather than running out, and living 45 minutes from the nearest store. And, I ended up needing way more 36-grit for the floor edger($1ish per paper) than for the drum sander. Not sure if that was unique to my floors or not.
Another helpful tip I read said to try out the drum sander initially with the 110-grit, till you get a feel for the sander. I didn't have any problems with it, but I can see how you could damage your floors with the 36-grit, if you weren't careful. The job went the quickest with myself running the drum sander, and my dad and brother using the floor edger. The edger actually seemed more difficult than the drum.
Living room during the the 80-grit.
Kitchen after the first round of 36-grit with the drum only. Remember all that glue that used to be there???
Kitchen after all stages of sanding (except additional hand sanding where the wood filler was)
Bedroom after all stages of sanding (note the water stain that didn't come up)
Living room after all stages(except additional hand sanding down the middle where the floor was patched) (Still with water stain)
Then, once the floors are ALLLL sanded, vacuum and clean and vacuum and clean like you've never vacuumed and cleaned before. Many things I read said to be so careful when you walk and put anything on top, but since my floors have a lot of....."character".....I wasn't too worried about it. Which worked out well for me because during the sanding, my cabinet guy called and said he had to install the cabinets the next day. So....staining was put on hold till after the cabinets were in.
On to the stain. If you're indecisive like me, you'll buy 20 stain choices, and vascillate for 3 days about which one to use. I luckily had a few scrap pieces of hardwood from part of the bathroom floor I had pulled up to try my samples out on. I knew I wanted a dark stain because: A) I like dark stain B) I had many imperfections on my 80 year old floors that needing covering up C) I like dark stain.
So, dark stain it was. I used Minwax Espresso. I stained approx 700 sq feet this color, and used almost 3 of the little cans. They didn't have any bigger cans at my store. Each can was about $7.
My brother and I stained the floors using cloths. I'd wipe it in and he came behind me wiping more and then with the other hand rubbing in what we had both wiped on. Make sense? He was waaaaay faster than me, and apparently the stain expert. It took us a couple hours to the the approx 700 sq feet and we finished at about 2:30am. That's how we roll when we both work full time and can only start work when we put our kids to bed.
Dining room after stain only.
Bedroom after stain only.
While I felt like the floors were so drastically and dramatically improved with the sanding and stain, I can't deny that I wasn't loving them. Luckily.....the polyurethane really took them to a whole new level! Who knew? Certainly not me. I'm a staining rookie.
So...onto the polyurethane. Upstairs(which is a whole other story), I used an oil-based polyurethane, which is what the man at Home Depot told me to purchase. Big mistake. Which my kind brother informed me of over and over and over again. And again. And then again. So before we started the downstairs varnish, he Ron Swansoned the Home Depot associate and purchased a fast-drying water-based polyurethane.
After cleaning things up a bit AGAIN(its amazing how dirty a construction site can get), I got to work varnishing the floors. At this point I didn't wear shoes in the house anymore. Which will be funny later.
Using my WATER-based poly(kinda milky white)($50/gallon-I needed 2) and a paint brush, I applied 3 separate coats. It needed a 1-hour dry time in between each coat. Which was perfect for me because I have no bathroom in the house, and the world's poorest bladder control, and needed to run home and take a break in between each coat. The poly went on pretty quickly, and other than my being a hunch-back, painful shoulder, numbed arm gimp once I finished, was completed without incident.
Oh yeah, other than the incident(s) where I poly'd myself to the wrong exit and had to walk through the snow in my socks to get back to my shoes. All while practically peeing my pants. NBD.
It was dark by time I finally finished all the coats. I was like a kid on Christmas when I went to check out my floors the following morning.
I literally cannot believe the transformation.
I'm in love with them. They turned out sooooo much better than I ever thought they would. All those pesky water stains are not even visible. And the wood filled worked out great too! All in all, I'm sure I spent approx $400-500, which is a huge bargain for what it could cost the install all new hardwoods. Sure, it was TON of work, but so totally worth it!!!
And now I'm ready to settle in for a long winter's nap. But first I'll go the chiropractor. And urologist.