Cross it off the list-- our 3rd floor hardwoods have been refinished!! And, they're drop dead gorgeous. Words cannot describe how happy we are with the outcome. My industrious husband, Dave, did everything from start to finish. And, his obsessive attention to detail really shows. The refinished floors look terrific. :)
Just to refresh, here are some pics of the floors from last month (at this point, we had finished the wainscoting, hung the trim, and painted everything)...
As you can see, the floors were in rough shape but worth saving (some areas were worse than others). Our center hallway was covered in a dark shellac, and the hardwood in the bedrooms was completely unfinished. We did a little bit of research on removing the shellac and came up with mixed reviews. Most people concluded that it would be a BEAR to remove-- some suggested stripping the floors, others suggested going through countless sheets of sand paper. The shellac sort of looks like paint. It's opaque, yet it has a lighter/thinner finish. When you try to remove it, it feels almost like tar and tends to gum up the sander. But, Dave decided to sand it off (rather than strip the floors) and ended up with decent results! We were pleased. So, if you have shellac on your floors, don't worry. It can be removed with little to no damage. The floors in the hallway look AMAZING now. Who would have known that all that gorgeous graining was hiding underneath a layer of ugly shellac all these years?
Our DIY project can be broken down like this:
Prep your floor -- pull any nails or staples, address the gaps between planks (either fill with wood filler or replace planks entirely). Make sure to secure any loose boards. When you're finished, vacuum the space thoroughly.
Sanding-- we rented a drum sander from the Home Depot to sand the majority of the floors. Then, Dave used an edging sander to get near the walls and corners-- places that the drum sander can't reach (if you have spaces where even the edging sander can't reach, you'll need to use a paint scraper to remove that layer of old finish). He started with a 36 grit paper and went over the entire floor, following the grain of the wood. This rough grit will aggressively remove the top layer of wood (our floors needed it!). When he was finished, he repeated this step with a 60 grit sand paper. And then, finished using the 100 grit paper. By going over the floors three times with the drum sander and the edger (using a gradual progression in sand paper every time) you will create a smoother, more even finish. And, your hardwoods will be better prepared to accept the stain.
Popping the wood (this is an optional step, but we did it, so I'm including it as "step 3") -- lightly mist the floor with water from a pump sprayer (something like this). Do not over water, since this can create water stains. Just lightly LIGHTLY spray it. The water will open up the grain to allow for a better buffing, which happens in the next step...
Blend the edges -- use a vibratory sander (we rented one from the Home Depot) to blend the areas where the edger and drum sander met. Dave used 100 grit sand paper. By blending (or buffing) the two spaces you will create a seamless finish.
Clean up -- vacuum the entire floor to make sure that you've cleaned up all the dust and debris (we did this twice with the shop vac).
Stain -- now it's time to apply that beautiful stain! We selected oil-based Minwax "Jacobean" stain, which can be found at any Home Depot store. We wanted a dark floor that complemented the tone of our original banisters. "Jacobean" was the perfect fit for us. Dave applied the stain with a natural bristle paint brush, and immediately followed with a rag (we used an old t-shirt) to remove excess stain. Wiping the excess with a rag will allow the wood grain to shine through. Allow the stain to dry for at least 24 hours.
checking our sample piece with the original banister finish-- it's a winner.
applying the stain
Polyurethane -- the final application! Apply 1 coat of polyurethane (we used Lenmar Polyurethane Wood Finish in "satin"). We used a roller with a 3/8" nap, and then used a brush to get in the corners. Allow approx. 12 hours of drying time. After the poly has dried, sand it with a 220 grit sand paper. Now, REPEAT this step 3 times.
Wait -- wait for the final coats of polyurethane to completely cure before moving furniture (or area rugs) onto the floor. RESIST! It's very difficult to be patient, but trust me. The poly needs to fully cure. We let it sit for almost a week, just to be safe. But, you could get away with 3-4 days of drying time.
And, here is what the refinished floor looks like today:
a little "before & after" comparison...
I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the lighting we selected for this space. So excited to share the final selections. :)
if you're interested, a few previous blog posts on this 3rd floor renovation...