View Full Version : Any carpentry/home improvement/DIY types?

01-05-2014, 10:00 AM
Hey fellow AWers! I don't usually venture to this area, but I just wanted to see if there was anyone who could offer me any advice.

We're about to start refinishing the hardwood floors in our house and as much as I've tried to read up and educate myself, I'm pretty nervous because I've never done anything like this before. We've already ripped up all the carpet and took out the nails and such. We're renting the sander from Home Depot on monday.

I know this board is more for crafters, so I'm just throwing this out there in case anyone might be able to help, you don't have to be a professional or anything, but maybe someone will have some experience doing this sort of thing. I'll take any advice I can get. If you think you could help, let me know and I'll put up more details.

Thanks in advance.

01-05-2014, 07:18 PM
I haven't done this, but a friend refinished the dining and living room areas adjacent to the kitchen. One thing she told me stuck. No matter how careful you are, how you close off rooms and seal cupboards, the dust from the sanding is going to get into everything. She said in hindsight it would have been easier to empty the kitchen cupboards and put everything upstairs or in the basement than to wash or wipe it all.

That was probably an exaggeration, but it would probably be wise to really seal the room, with thick plastic sheeting taped across doorways and over vents on all four sides, redone every time you leave the room.

I assume you plan to use masks and eye protection?

If you will be walking onto carpet from the area you're refinishing, consider picking up some Roberts Temporary Carpet Cover at Home Depot. Our contractor used this plastic sheeting with the sticky back when they redid our bathrooms. The stuff is amazing, sticks well and doesn't tear for months, yet comes up without damaging the carpet. Amazing. Our work was done slowly and this stuff covered our stairs for at least three months, maybe four.

Maryn, hoping you'll do before and after pictures

01-05-2014, 08:07 PM
I've done this a fair amount. I grew up in houses that were fixer-uppers.

I dunno about you, but the sander I used was the stand-up kind, looking a bit like a vaccum in terms of how you held it.

I got dragged all over the floor at first. Be careful about not letting the sander sit while running; it'll eat a hole in the floor.

Wear a mask; the dust isn't good for you. Think about ear plugs.

Try the stain / finish on a similar piece of wood, or an out of the way corner (closets are great for this!) before you do the whole thing.

Make sure you have ventilation when you get to staining/finishing and that you give the coats plenty of time to dry.

Cover your head to avoid memorializing your hair on the newly finished floor.

01-05-2014, 08:38 PM
Awesome! Yeah, it's scary to do major work like this for the first time. If the sander is one of those upright jobs with the square weight (like an upright vacuum), I've used one like that. It doesn't throw the sawdust around and was surprisingly clean to use. Although just in case, Maryn had great advice to put up plastic and maybe move kitchen items out of the cabinets.

Keep the sander moving! The sandpaper will scrap off wood fast. After a bit, you'll get the hang of it.

Make sure you buy way more sandpaper than you can imagine you'll use. Home Depot should reimburse you for any unused paper, but running out would be a pain.

Start in a back room (like under a bed) until you get the hang of the sander. The same for the stain and sealant, start in a back room under where a cabinet might hide any early errors.

Don't forget to take before-during-after photos. Those can be priceless.

Best wishes to you, StephanieZie!

Ol' Fashioned Girl
01-05-2014, 08:50 PM
Don't even think you can do the stain in two or three installments. Do it all to avoid leaving a 'line' between today's work and the work of whenever you get back to it. Same for the finish.

Get a hand-held sander for those corners and close to the wall strips that the rental sander can't reach.

Echoing what the others have said: Don't let the sander sit in one place. Be careful when you start it up and shut it down. It'll eat into the wood faster than you can say, "Divot!"

And, yes... take 'before' and 'after' - not just because WE want to see 'em, but because 30 years from now, you'll want to see 'em, too. :)

Good luck!

01-05-2014, 10:45 PM
I have sanded lots of floors. I prefer to use a small belt sander , you can buy your own , it will easily pay for it's self . A lot slower than the big drum floor sanders , but the small sanders are a lot less aggressive ,plenty of floors have been damaged with over eager use of drum sanders. Also, the noise and dust is a bit more localized.
If you need to fill between the floor boards, I use a mix of sawdust , bought in pet shops, and PVA Glue . push the mix in-between the boards before you sand them . The dust will match it to the floor colour. I finish the floor with floor wax , job done.

01-10-2014, 01:09 AM
Hey, you guys, wanted to give an update here! We began the project on Monday and...IT WAS A DISASTER :cry:

First, we rented the wrong sander. We got a square buff sander because I'd read a website that recommended to get that instead of the drum sander, which could be too vigorous and scratch your floors. The buff sander was nowhere near powerful enough to get down to the bare wood. We sanded one room for about six hours straight and it still had gouges and residue from the previous stain. Maybe the floors were not in as good of shape as I had originally thought. After we finished sanding that room, it looked okay, but when I tried to stain it, all of the uneveness of the color, and the dark gouges were made even more apparent.

We stopped sanding the second room around one in the morning because we were both exhausted. It was a nightmare. The rest of my house was in utter shambles, it looked like something off the Hoarders show.

On top of all that, we drastically underestimated the amount of time this project would take. To do multiple stain and finish coats, waiting the 24 hours between coats that the product directions suggested, we would just now be finishing it.

So I chalked this up to an expensive mistake and went out and bought twelve boxes of wood laminate (what I really wanted in the first place). It took me two days to put it down in both rooms and the hallway and to move the furniture back and it looks AMAZING :snoopy: I'm so happy with my decision. Mainly I wanted either wood or wood laminate flooring because we had carpets before and I am sick of having to vacuum and scrub them every other day to get the stains out. With hard floors, I can just quickly sweep up any dirt or dust and go on with my life.

So as soon as we financially recuperate from these shenanigans, I'm going to go buy the laminate for my living room and dining room and the house will be done. Alas, I shall have my coveted real hardwood floors one day... When I can pay someone else to come in and do them while I go on vacation for the week! Thanks for everyone who offered advice. If nothing else, this has been a learning experience.