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:


1920’s Home Renovation Portfolio of before and after photos (bathroom)

Continuing my series of portfolio pictures of what was accomplished at the 1920’s duplex, one of the major transformations occurred in the bathroom.  Everything was white:  original hexagonal tile, white shower, white paint and white sink and white tongue and groove plank wood walls.  I struggled initially with the emotional decision as to whether I should retain some of the original elements for historical purposes but I decided it was best for rental value, and considering what was there was in bad shape, to go ahead and modernize the space a bit.

Here’s what was done to transform this room:  1)  All fixtures and finishes were removed except the medicine cabinet and tile 2) new travertine tile was installed directly over the old tile 3) new toilet, vanity, lighting and fixtures 4) had a plumber help to replace old galvanized pipes in walls and under foundation for new shower  5) installed new step in shower pan, backboard and tile for shower 6) instead of going back with mini-blinds, I used a frosted window film that I found that gives privacy yet lets the natural light shine in uncluttered.

Details:  wall paint color-Mushroom Bisque, oil rubbed bronze fixtures by Danze, Medicine cabinet and shower trims painted Espresso brown, shower tile is a combo of blanco tumbled marble and a glass mosaic I found at Lowe’s



Vanity area


Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 9:18 am  Comments (3)  
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1920’s Home Renovation-Portfolio of before and after photos (bedroom)

I am finally finished with the 1920’s duplex, at least one of the two units anyway!!  This will be the first of a series of posts just showing the makeover, before and after and sometimes during progress.  Hopefully you will agree that the changes are amazing, and in most cases, very little to do yourself if something you see sparks your creativity!  This project has taken a lot longer than expected, given my time availability and other factors.  Renovating an older home has many twists and turns that can be unexpected, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.

The bedroom, like other rooms in the unit showed many signs of settlement with cracks above almost every door and window.    The home has a pier and beam foundation with a brick ledge around the perimeter which all had to be leveled and repaired.  This allowed me to make the crack repairs inside.  In the bedroom alone, there are six lovely windows that allow A LOT of natural light to enter so I definitely did not want ugly cracks to detract from that beauty.  The bedroom also had an area on the wood floor that had been damaged either by a prior roof leak or heavy object that was dropped.  I was able to cut the damage out and match the hardwood.  In older homes like this, all of the walls, interior and exterior are actually tongue and groove wood and over time sheetrock installed over the wood.  Pretty much, you can install a picture anywhere without having to wonder if you hit a stud!

Bedroom (Before)

Bedroom before

Bedroom (After):  Paint, new blinds, windows, doors and trims painted, new fan and outlets/switches with stainless covers, refinished hardwoods with a repair area and all door and window settlement cracks repaired

Paint color:  Home Depot’s Behr Paint and Primer in One- Mushroom Bisque

Floors stained:  Minwax Jacobean with a satin Polyurethane for Floors

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 8:28 am  Comments (2)  
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How to apply window film

So in my mission to finally finish my 1920’s duplex, I wanted to replace the cheesy plastic mini-blinds throughout the space, especially the floppy one on the back door.  Have you ever been lucky enough to find a window blind that stays in its brackets and even better, ever found one that is short enough that you don’t get lost in a tangle of strings trying to shorten it to fit?  Well, during my hunt, I stumbled across a product from Home Depot called “Artscape” decorate window films.  You can choose from two sizes: 1) 24″ x 36″ for $20 or 2) 36″ x 72″ for $30.   They have a variety of finishes like etched glass, leaded glass (like the one I used), stained glass, rain, etc depending on level of privacy you also want the film to have.  For about the same cost or better than a blind?  Sold!

Here is a picture of the product:

Tools you need:  Measuring tape, straight edge, razor knife, soapy water in a spray bottle; the film itself comes with a squeegee

Here are the steps:

1)  Clean the window-ensure interior of window is completely clean

2)  Measure the area to be covered and cut film on the paper side using a razor knife and straight edge-Before you cut the film, ensure that it will be even on both sides if there is a pattern.  To do this, subtract 50% of the total reduction from each side.  In other words, in my case, my width was 21 1/2″ and the film is 24″ wide; I cut 1 1/4″ from each side.  Repeat the same measurement for length.

3)  Wet the window-Using a spray bottle with water and a couple of drops of  hand soap inside, wet the window generously.  The wetter the window, the easier to work with the film.  Of course, lay a towel down on your floor to protect it from the drips.

4) Apply the film-Starting in one corner, peel the film from the paper backing and press into place and gently continue to roll the paper backing away and pressing the film against the window at the same time.  Be careful not to let the paper come in contact with the window.

5) Squeegee the air bubbles-Using the provided squeegee, start in the middle and work outwards to remove all air bubbles. Once dry, the film should be nicely adhered.

No more blind and a bonus that I now made my 1920’s door look like it has a leaded glass insert.  Love it!  This really was such an easy project that gave me so much reward and was much faster than installing a floppy blind!  I’m going to now use the same film but in etched glass to get rid of the blind in the bathroom.

If you have any questions, let me know…hope you enjoy transforming your window.