How to refinish hardwood floors (Part 2-stain and seal)

Now that the sanding is done as seen here in my prior post   the floors are ready to apply the new finish.  For hardwoods, I recommend a stain and 3 coats of polyurethane.  I chose MinWax’s oil based stain in Jacobean, which is a dark brownish black color like coffee beans.  I chose the darker color not only for aesthetic purposes, but as I discovered, it hides imperfections in the floors very well.

In small spaces, I recommend using a brush. but in the larger areas, the stain is applied easily with a paint roller and an extension pole.  Here you can see how it hides all the imperfections and repairs made to the original hardwoods very well.  When patching wood to be sealed, make sure you get the wood filler that says “paintable AND stainable”.

The stain will be “tacky” to the touch for several hours.  You don’t want to proceed to sealing until the stain is completely dry which typically takes at least 24 hours if not slightly more, especially in humid conditions.

Once the stain is completely dry, you can proceed to sealing.  Minwax makes a Polyurethane for Floors; I chose a satin finish which will look shiny when wet as you can see in the below photo but dries to a nice subdued finish.  It applies easily with a lambswool applicator attached to a painters pole.  After about 4 hours, the manufacturers label says that you can reapply a 2nd coat without sanding in between.  If you wait to let the first coat dry, you should plan to sand the area with a fine grit sandpaper and remove all sanding dust before proceeding.  In this case, I opted to reapply the 2nd and 3rd coats so that I could eliminate the sanding.  A word of warning here and that is to wear a face mask meant to block odors because this stuff is very noxious!  Allow at least 48 hours before walking on the surface.

The finished look:


How to refinish hardwood floors (Part 1-Sanding)

The day has finally arrived!  My 1920’s duplex I have been laboring over for MONTHS now is finally ready to have its floors restored!!!   The original hardwoods are luckily in pretty decent condition with a few areas where the finish has completely worn off.  In order to renew the finish and restore the floors to their full beauty potential, I must first sand the old finish.   ** Disclaimer ** I have never attempted to refinish a floor before.  I’ve refinished furniture, sure, but floors?  What do I have to lose??  I hope I do not eat those words!

Belt Sander from Home Depot

Step 1:  Tool Rental

Home Depot thankfully rents large tools that would normally cost the regular weekend do-it-yourselfers a small fortune to buy the same.  For 4 hours and $32, I rented a belt sander which comes with a large dust collection bag.  I also purchased a 60 grit belt and a 100 grit sandpaper belt for $9.97 each.   The tool rental people will ensure that it works before you leave and demonstrates how you will operate the tool and how to install the sandpaper.  In this case, it is very easy since you simply slide the belts right on the sanding drum on the sander, no tools required.

First swipe-Bedroom

Step 2:  Sanding first swipe

Using the courser sandpaper first, start on one side of the room and work your way across, always sanding with the grain.  The sander has a handle that you can use to raise and lower the sanding drum while you maneuver the sander to each new row; *TIP* I did not do this at first and began noticing some unevenness in my sanding pattern so once I began raising and lowering the drum as I moved, it did much better.

2nd Swipe-the floor looks much more even

Step 3:  Sanding second swipe

Once the room is finished with the first swipe, change to the lower grit sandpaper belt.  Follow the same steps as above and you will notice that some of the unevenness is now easier to make disappear.

Living room-before sanding; surface scratches disappear!

Living room-after second swipe

Step 4:  Sanding the edges

Upon my tool return, I inquired about the next step, edging.  Unfortunately, the gentleman explained that most people actually begin with the edges so that any imperfections can be concealed with the larger belt sander.  Just my luck!  Instead of renting a large orbital sander that may cause round sanding marks, I purchased a smaller 4″ handheld belt sander for $40 that I plan to use to go straight down the edges.  I will use my hand sander to get into the corners.

After I sand the edges, my next step will be applying the new stain, so I hope you come back to see the finished results.   I must say, having spent 3 1/2 hours to sand 700 SF, it went fast and was very easy. I would definitely rate this job an easy one for a do-it-yourselfer.

RV Remodel Series-Flooring

Continuing my quickie makeover series in our new RV, “Road Kill”, I am delighted that I have finally zeroed in on the color scheme…light tan, chocolate and TEAL.  I’m going to salvage what I can of the existing improvements and make it work.  After all, a steal isn’t a steal if you pour money into it for cosmetics.  My goal for any improvement is how to get the most bang for your buck.  So teal we are sticking with.

For an RV, the ideal floor covering is one that is durable, flexible and will tolerate dirt, wet and easy to clean.  So I found myself looking at VINYL tile again.  An aisle I hardly ever venture down in the big home improvement stores.  To my surprise, they now carry a product called “Allure Ultra”.  Its a heavy duty vinyl product that is made to look like real wood.  I’m impressed to say, it really does look good…not some cheesy, grainy looking screening.  It carries a hefty warranty and is “WATER PROOF”; the cost was $2.97 psf and they have one that is less than $2 psf with the only difference being that it is considered water resistant.  It is installed similar to a floating laminate floor with a tongue and groove interlocking design.  There is no glue or other tools required except for a razor blade and straight edge.    Let’s see what happens!

Before I start, because the rental RV we had last summer had some sort of engine or drive train problem, it caused the RV to feel like a rolling oven inside.  The floors were so hot, it was hard to walk around and we were all fighting for the best spot by the air vents.  I did not want a similar experience this time.  I found a product called EZ Cool which is an automotive thermal insulation that is said to reduce noise and heat transfer.  I installed it  directly over the wood subfloors.

Next we laid new 1/4″ plywood directly over the thermal layer.

So now the new vinyl goes in.  I started with the wall opposite of the door and the directions call for working left to right:

A little trick I learned along the way is to leave the stuff sitting in sunlight before you score and snap it with your blade.  The heat makes it very pliable and easier to cut.  And now the finished project result; the Allure product really does look good!  I wouldn’t be bashful about putting this product in my home and I must say, we are beginning to have a classy looking RV.   I definitely give a thumbs up to this new flooring because it really is very easy to install yourself and looks really nice:

Here is the information from Home Depot’s site about the Trafficmaster Allure product:

Enjoy the resilience of 100% waterproof flooring and the look of real wood with new Exclusive Trafficmaster Allure Ultra flooring. The no-glue floating floor installs over most existing surfaces with a simple installation Click & Lock System. No underlayment, expansion joints or heavy tools are required to install. Allure Ultra is perfect for any room in your home, including basements and has a lifetime residential warranty and a 10-year commercial warranty.

A Home Remodel Series (Part 4-How to install wood flooring)

The finished project

Continuing our series on following the progress at my friend’s home remodel, part of their wood flooring in the dining room had been damaged by a water leak from the adjacent kitchen.

See what all we are covering in this series by clicking the link below:

Wood floors add a lot of warmth and character to any room.  They are exceptionally durable and a good quality wood floor is meant to last for years and years.  Unfortunately, in the case of my friend’s home,  wood and water do not agree and the resulting buckled wood flooring was not salvageable.

Wood floors damaged by water leak