DIY Refinishing Wood Floors |For what it's worth

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DIY Refinishing Wood Floors

We quickly decided to refinish the original oak floors ourselves when we discovered them under the old carpet in the 1956 Home Renovation project.   It has taken a couple of weeks to complete but only because there were walls, baseboards, five window frames, two doors and four panel shutter doors on the closet to be painted and a new ceiling fan to be installed.  The room is finally complete and the furniture is in place.  I’d say that even though we took our time (and several breaks) the job of refinishing wood floors was much easier than I expected. 
DIY refinish wood floors
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*Ease of job on scale where 1= easy and 5= hard:  I’d say a 2.
*Time:  We sanded 450 square feet in less than 2 days with plenty of rest time.  Three coats of Polyurethane took another 2 days because we allowed plenty of dry time.
*What you will need to refinish wood floors:
  • Professional sander with dust collector
  • Sanding disks in 2-3 different grits
  • broom
  • dust pan
  • dust mop (which I will use again for dusting and damp mopping)
  • dust rags
  • dust mask
  • hammer to remove carpet tack boards any errant nails
  • nail set to push nails below surface that can’t be removed
  • pliers to pull carpet staples
  • wood filler
  • Floor sealer, we used water based Water base Polyurethane Clear Gloss
  • Paint brushes, long handled sponge roller

DSC_0017The most difficult part of refinishing the wood floors is the prep.  There are a lot of nails that we can only guess were added to reduce squeaky sounds or something. Any way hubs had to use a nail set to push each nail below the top and use wood filler to make them even with the floor again. He tinted the filler using some brown dye because we were going for a natural finish and not using stain.  I was worried about that but it worked out just fine.

sanding wood floor

We rented a floor sander and a smaller sander to take the floor down to bare wood right up to the baseboards.  Hubs sanded with the grain in several passes with the machines starting with a rough grit to remove the old varnish and ending with a fine grit to make the wood smoother.
DIY refinish oak wood floors
I spent a couple of hours cleaning and wiping up every spec of dust before hubs rolled on the sealant.  He tried a squeegee type of spreader first but felt it was not going on evenly. A long handled sponge roller was recommended by the hardware store clerk and worked pretty well.  We chose a water base Polyurethane for several reasons.
  • Durability
  • less water staining
  • faster dry time
  • less odor
  • soap and water clean up
I believe there is a sander available that has several sanding functions in one machine thus reducing the time.  The rental place we used did not have it.  Hubs has found a place in another city that we intent to use for the other rooms. The machines we used were not difficult, but the other machine would make the steps of sanding fewer and it is even cheaper to rent. Wish we’d known that before.  BTW, don’t forget to buy some quality face masks so you don’t breath in the dust.  Even though the sanders have built in dust collectors there is still plenty of dust escaping into the air. If you are wondering why we chose to only complete the bedroom and hallway, it’s because we weren’t sure how difficult it would be or how long it would take. I guess you could say it was a test run plus there are some structural changes we want to make in the dining room.  We are pretty pleased at the ease and our ability to refinish the floors, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we had feared. Please check back in a couple of weeks for the bedroom reveal.  I love it so much I may never come out.


  1. That looks great! Hardwood floors are so much better than carpet :)

  2. I LOVE hardwood floors! Great tutorial! I need to pin this! :)

  3. They turned out amazing!

  4. Looks amazing! And thank you for making it sound totally do-able. Most people make it sound like the worst task.

  5. Stopping by from TXWB! I don't have wood floors but I'm pinning because it's a great post.


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