My first time refinishing hardwood floors. Turned out excellent!


I am a first time home buyer who moved into their home mid June. I’ve been itching for more home projects ever since my parents moved out of state a few years back and was very excited to find unfinished hardwood under my living room carpet. I decided to rip it up and tackle the job myself. Initially I wanted to save money by doing it myself, but in the end I did not end up saving as much money as I might have thought. Still, through the process, I’m very happy with the results and have certainly learned valuable lessons along the way. (Glad my hardwood floors are not a soft wood variant haha).Before I get into it. Here’s the finished product:Finished Floor Angle 1Finished Floor Angle 2I had ~280 square feet of hardwood to finish. Which I believe was white oak.To prepare myself from the storm of dust absolutely everywhere I taped off my living room from the rest of my house, taped the large window in the living room, turned down and blocked the registers, covered the outlets, and taped off anything I didn’t want to get covered in sawdust.My game plan was to rent a 12×18 random orbital sander from Home Depot to take off the factory coating on the hardwood floors as they were never finished after being installed. I quick realized that the 12×18 random orbital sander was going to take me days.First attempt at sandingI hopped back into my car and rented the EZ-8 Drum Sander from home depot. I can certainly say I’m glad I did because it made the process much quicker and got me the results I was looking for. I was initially trying to avoid using a drum sander because I’ve never used one before, but it’s really not as hard as some people made it seem online. Just never drop the drum when you’re still, kinda simple.I started my first parallel pass. Starting from the furthest wall from the front door and ending next to the front door. Though, I quickly noticed the floor wasn’t terribly level. Some of the boards had pushed together at the seam and created peaks (The house was built in 1971 and I believe the hardwood was installed in ~2001 because I found a receipt in the basement). So this was expected. I changed my game plan and started doing ~30 degree passes starting from the further corner and working my way across the floor. I did this for each corner. In total I made 4 ~30 degree passes 24 grit sandpaper.Half way through the 30 degree passesHalf way through the 30 degree passes – angle 2I moved up to 36 grit and made my parallel passes starting at the furthest wall to the door and back. Did that twice with 36 gritOnce I was satisfied with my 36 grit passes using the drum sander it was time to start using the edger. First thing I noticed: Edgers are not easy to use, especially if you’ve never used one before. I started in a spot in the living room where I knew the TV stand would be, and man I’m glad I did. First time I set that edger down it took me damn near two feet to the right. I made a low spot, yelled, started swearing, and tried again. Boom same thing. I was just seriously bad at using an edger for the first time. I quickly honed in on my technique and was able to get the quality job I was originally wanting. It just took some practice, patience, and watching a couple more youtube videos to get some tips and tricks. I only made two passes with the edger. One with 36 grit and one with 60 grit. I didn’t want to push my luck and make a mess attempting another pass. I determined at this point I’d get out any small mistakes with the 12×18 random orbital sander I rented and my M18 sander.After going around the room and closet with the edger I switched over to 60 grit with the drum sander and made two parallel passes. Wiped down a couple random spots with mineral spirits to ensure I didn’t have any scratches left over and then readied myself to use the 12×18 random orbital sander for higher grits.I went ahead and did two passes with 80 grit using the orbital sander. One perpendicular pass and one parallel pass. Then used my small Milwaukee M18 orbital as an edger to get the smaller areas that are not reachable with the 12×18 rectangular orbital I rented. Then followed this same exact process with 120 grit.Final sand at 120 gritAfter vacuuming for what felt like hours I was at the point where the floor was rid of most of the sawdust and larger particles.After sanding, vacuumed angle 1After sanding, vacuumed angle 2Even after vacuuming there is still a lot of crap left on the surface of the wood. I wanted to make sure to get as much as I could. I wiped down the entire floor with mineral spirits to get rid of a lot of these small particulates but to also determine if there were some scratches I didn’t see. I did notice some scratches in a few areas across the floor (Mainly from the edger). Quickly used my small 5″ Milwaukee orbital and got rid of those.Cleaned with mineral spirits angle 1Cleaned with mineral spirits angle 2At this point I was satisficed and prepared to start putting on my sealer. While researching what kind of sealer and finishes I wanted I came across Bona. Certainly glad I did because the results are great! I also didn’t know if I was going to use a water or oil based poly. After reading about the VOC’s and suggested ventilation of oil based I opted to use everything water based. It’s the winter and I have a girlfriend and three dogs actively living in the home with me so I didn’t want to mess with oil based. I ended up using Bona ClassicSeal and applied using a t-bar and cut-in pad. This was my first time using both applicators on a large scale hardwood floor application and was certainly challenging at first. The most important part is to keep a wet edge (Just like when painting a wall). I didn’t do a great job at keeping a wet edge with the cut-in pad when I was doing my cut-ins but the product is very forgiving and didn’t show any heavy lines or discoloration from some uneven application.Bona ClassicSeal appliedI let the seal dry overnight as I knew I had a few heavy areas and wanted to make sure I wasn’t walking on something that wasn’t dry. My first walk over the seal showed that it did raise the grain slightly so I took my 5″ orbital and went over the entire floor with 220 grit. That took a long time but was worth it because the floor felt amazing afterwards. I knew I would be much happier if I did that.Now onto the finish. I have three large dogs who love to run inside and outside nearly all day. We have a doggy door for them that is open 24/7 and only closes when it’s too muddy or we are away for an extended period of time. So ensuring the highest amount of durability out of my water based finish was important. Since I was using Bona I chose their Traffic HD Satin finish. I purchased two gallons of the finish from a local hardwood floor shop and got started. Not knowing if I was going to put it on too thin or thick I used an entire gallon for the first coat. Added the hardener and went to work. Apparently I put it on too thin for the first coat because I only used ~1.75qts. I let the first coat dry and applied a second coat with the Bona suggested four hour window once you’ve mixed in the hardener. My second coat used three quarts which was more expected. I still had 3.25 quarts left over so was certainly going to do a third coat. I applied my third coat and took a few pictures while it was drying. In between every coat I did a dry tac to ensure most small particulates were gone from the floor surface.Third finish coat drying angle 1Third finish coat drying angle 2I made sure to let it dry and waited the suggested 24 hours before light foot traffic was okay. Waking up one morning I was greeted with such beauty.Finished Floor Angle 1Finished Floor Angle 2This last picture was taken today at a low floor angle to show off the luster level in the satin finish.Finish Floor Angle 3It’s not absolutely perfect. There are some imperfections like having a few dog hairs in the finish, couple lighter spots from the edger, and a couple dents I never filled, but I’m proud of what I did and certainly glad I took the time to do it. I am my worth critic and will forget about some of these spots with time.Probably wondering the cost at this point. Well, ya I spent more money than I needed to but it was my first time and I wanted to do this as a learning experience as well.Tool Rentals (Drum, orbital, and edger sanders): $421Bona Sealer and Finish: $351Sanding Pads: $115Miscellaneous (Anything else purchased to complete the project. t-bar, applicator pads, mineral spirits, etc,.): $109Total: $996I only planned on renting the sanders for a one day period but due to unforeseen events I had to carry sanding into a two day period. That more than doubled the rental prices.It was a grueling project. Really just the sanding, everything else was fine. But in the end I am happy and that’s what matters.Let me know if you have any questions or curious about certain aspects of my process.‚ÄčEDIT: Photo Album via /r/DIY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *