Preparing To Refinish The Floors

30 Mar


In about two weeks I’m going to be ready to refinish my floors. I’ve left this project for the end because I ‘m not the neatest painter and for the first couple of years that I owned the house there was a lot of painting going on and furniture that was moving around. The floors don’t look too bad from far away but in person, there are many areas that are discolored, scratched, uneven or worn. Refinishing the floors is going to take a little gumption though since the entire house, aside form the kitchen and the bathroom contains hardwoods.

I know that there are lots of folks out there who have already been through this process so I’m looking for any tips or pieces of advice. Specifically in regard to the following:

Should I do half of the house at a time or the whole thing at once (remember I only have 860 sq. feet).
What about changing the color to a 50/50 mix of English Chestnut and Provincial wood stains?
Is Minwax the way to go?
What’s the best product to seal the floors with? Is it easy to work with? 
Just how much dust is this going to make? Is it worth the trouble to seal off the house with plastic?
What is the best way to apply the stain and sealer?

I’m also wondering about what to do about these small gaps you can see in this picture. In two of the highest traffic areas of the house there are these small gaps in between a couple of the planks caused by wear. Can I fill these with wood putty, just ignore them, replace the entire plank? What’s the best thing to do here? 

And how about that shoe molding? It matches the Gumwood baseboard but its very worn in some spots, should this be sanded and re-shellacked? If so what’s the best way to do that?

7 Responses to “Preparing To Refinish The Floors”

  1. Steve@AnUrbanCottage March 30, 2014 at 10:49 AM #

    My advice would be to tread lightly, pun intended. Your floors appear very similar–evidenced by the nail holes directly in the top of the wood–to the floors I had in my last house. Those were a very thin oak flooring that was only about 1/4-inch thick when it was new. It was a cheap alternative to hardwood flooring that was used (I would guess) in the 1920s. Once it’s sanded a few times, the top side that has the groove becomes so thin, they’ll very quickly break off. Is there any place you can get a side view of the flooring to see what kind of thickness you have before you sand it? I could be totally wrong but an once of prevention…

    • ittybittybungalow March 30, 2014 at 11:18 AM #

      You’re scaring me Steve!

      • Steve@AnUrbanCottage March 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM #

        Would it be worth getting an estimate just to get some professional advice even though you intend to do it on your own? I found some to do my whole house (except the kitchen and back bedroom that was painted) before I moved in for $900. At that price, I just didn’t think it was worth doing on my own. BTW, I used English chestnut stain and two coats of polyurethane. (I love the smell of those organic compounds.)

      • ittybittybungalow March 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM #

        I did have an estimate last summer (that’s when I saw the 50/50 mix sample that I liked). They wanted $1,300 to do the house. I thought it was fair but figured I could do it myself for less. You should post pictures of your first house I bet it was beautiful. In fact, I was just gushing about your new kitchen last night over dinner with friends.

    • Karen Anne March 31, 2014 at 12:30 PM #

      A good place to peek at a floor’s construction or to try stuff is in a closet. That’s also a source of wood for patching the more visible flooring.

  2. marcebauer March 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM #

    Our floors are very similar to yours. We too were living in our house while my partner decided to redo our floors. It’s messy no matter what measures you do to try to prevent it. We had our couch on our enamel top kitchen table for over a week while the whole process took place. We went with a water base polyurethane that hasn’t held up as strong as a traditional polyurethane. The reason we went with the water base was the odor, we did the floors in the winter and didn’t want to kill all of our brain cells with the fumes. As far as the high traffic areas we left them alone. It’s an old home built around 1900 and our floors were probably updated around 1920 so the worn wood showcases a little bit of its history.

  3. Gloria E. Jacobs April 14, 2014 at 11:30 AM #

    What have you decided to do, Brad? We did the ones in our Rochester house ourselves, and it was a lot of work and messy! When we moved into our current home, we hired someone to do it – both the sanding and the finishing. I seem to remember it being around $1500 and it was worth it. We went with a finish that is supposed to last a long time, and it’s wearing well so far, but the odor was awful. Next time (if there is a next time), I’m going with a low VOC finish.

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