DIY Hardwood Floor Renovation

Investment properties are beaconing our name. Since Wilson got us to help him with flipping a property last spring, we have decided we might as well take our own bite into flipping and investing in rental properties in the North Idaho area. We are still working on The Wolf Lodge, but as of now, we plan on picking up a couple of properties a year to either turn or keep as rentals.
We just finished a remodel on a 4 bedroom, one bath, 1960’s home in Coeur d Alene. It needed quite a bit of work inside and exterior paint. We’ve completely overhauled the kitchen, updated the bath, new paint, trim, and fixtures throughout, and changed out all flooring, including refinishing the hardwood floors. Which is exactly what I plan to blog about today, refinishing hardwood floors.

We’ve refinished hardwood flooring before so we were prepared for the amount of work and rewarding results this process offers. This can be a DIY project if you are not one who gives up mid project from a sore back and calloused knees. In our Bothell, WA house we stripped, sanded, and refinished 1200 sq ft of 4″ maple plank flooring in a natural finish (no stain). This go around we stripped, sanded, stained, and varnished a 1 3/4″ red oak floor. Both were very similar. The oak is a bit harder wood. I am so thankful Jared and Wilson took on the stripping this time.

Maple floors refinished in our Bothell, WA house.

Maple floors refinished in our Bothell, WA house.

Now I know this may be too detailed for some of my readers, but this is one of those blogs I am posting for the DIYers who are searching for the courage to take on their hardwood floors. So step by step, I will explain.

First thing to do, is to pull up any carpeting or other flooring material that is covering your hardwood, scrape off as much glue or other adhesive, these is a real bear to sand away. Remove carpet tack or any other debris. This should give you a good view of your hardwood. Asses boards that may need to be replaced due to water damage, rot, or just plan overuse in high traffic areas. We had one room that the previous owners glued the carpet pad down, boy did Wilson have fun demoing that. Good thing he is young and energetic. There is nothing magical about this process, it’s just good hard work.

This is the room that had carpet pad that was adhered to the hardwood at demolition.  Dark stain hides a multitude of flaws.

This is the room that had carpet pad that was adhered to the hardwood at demolition. Dark stain hides a multitude of flaws.

We pulled up the tile in the 10×10 kitchen to find no hardwood underneath. We were faced with the decision of putting down another tile or continuing with the hardwood throughout. We chose the second option. Wood in a kitchen or bathroom lends itself to water damage but we lived with both in Bothell and never had an issue. But I was certainly careful to clean up spills or that occasional flooding toilet quickly. I think bathrooms are more risky to install hardwood in than a kitchen. With that being said, we decided to install hardwood in this kitchen. We ordered additional hardwood through a local chain called Great Floors. They helped us decide which kind of wood we needed to match and had the wood ready for us the next day. It ended up costing us more than we figured installing tile would be, but the overall continuous hardwood created an appearance of a bigger area and thus was worth every penny. The wood cost us $6 sq ft. It took Jared a day and 1/2 to lay the kitchen floor, two steps, and a small landing. He rented a hardwood floor nailer from a local rental company for $60 for two days. When adding additional hardwood be sure to pull out a few of the older floor to stagger the new floor boards into the mix. Otherwise you have a straight line of new which definitely looks like remodel material.

Jared and Wilson replacing the subfloor prior to hardwood installation in the kitchen.

Jared and Wilson replacing the subfloor prior to hardwood installation in the kitchen.

After installation it is time to begin stripping. No chemical was used. Again it was good old fashioned hard work. We rented a radial sander and an edge sander because the radial sander does not reach right up next to the walls. These cost us $75 total, including sand paper, for a three day rental. Sand the entire floor with a 40, then 60, then 80, and finally 100 grit paper. These usually come with the sanders. Yes, you will need to go over the floor four times. This process requires a sensitivity to how much pressure you place on the sander. More pressure, the deeper it sands, and thus more wood is taken off. Our oak floors required much more muscle and pressure than the maple. Your first pass should remove most of the old finish if you are refinishing. Important note here; use the bag that comes with your sander to catch the sawdust. I can tell you from experience it makes sanding and clean up much easier.

Ok, you have dust everywhere, don’t you? Every speck of it needs to be picked up. Wipe down the walls, blinds, widows, inside closets, trim, light fixtures, EVERYTHING! Any dust will find its way to your floor when you get to varnishing if you don’t. Our process went, from the top of walls down as we swept, then went back over everything with a shop vacuum ( don’t forget the heater vents, if they come on while you are varnishing, oh my!) finally, we wiped the floors down with a tack cloth.

Sawdust anyone?

Sawdust anyone?

On to the next step, staining. If you choose to put stain on your floor, now is the time to do so. Our maple floors we did not stain, but the oak, we did. We used natural walnut Old Master’s stain that we purchased from Rodda. It cost about $18 a quart. We used three quarts, not near the amount it called for the 600 sq ft. Start at the far corner of your space. With a staining pad or cloth, we used the pad, dip the corner of the pad into the quart. Spread covering completely, but not leaving pools of stain. Work your way backwards on your hands and knees spreading, dipping, spreading, as you go, backing your way out of the room. Do sections that can dry in about 5-10 minutes because you will need to go back and wipe down the area after that allotted time. If you don’t they will be a bit gummy and uneven. Continue this process until the entire area is complete. Note, you will get messy. Gloves and knee pads come in handy.

The stain is applied but not wiped off yet.

The stain is applied but not wiped off yet.

On to the final step, varnishing. Allow 24 hours for the stain to dry. We have used two different products to varnish, Daly’s gloss floor coat, and Old Master’s high gloss coat. Both cost approximately $75 a gallon, were water based and equally easy to put down using a lambs wool mop. We ended up only needing 2 gallons for the 600 sq ft. The Daly’s project has withstood 5 years of family use and still look great. I would have used that product again but could not find enough in town to complete our project and did not have time to order. The Old Masters went down great, I just can’t comment on it’s longevity due to how new our project is.

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The varnish will be applied in three coats. Between each application the floors need to be sanded lightly and then wiped down with a tack cloth. Follow the directions on the can as to drying time between coats. It is usually a couple of hours until you should be back in sanding and wiping. After the final application, do not sand and let the gloss dry for 24 hours before stepping on it. A couple things to note, everything on the floor will become a bump when varnished, air bubbles become bumps that need to be sanded, keep the temperature within the range directed on the can, but make sure you heater vents are clean before turning them on during this stage of the process.
After 24 hours reinstall the base moldings so you can then bring all that furniture you crammed in your garage, back in. The floors should last 6-12 years, depending on the amount of use, before a refinish is need again. The sooner you refinish, the less sanding required. If you are like me, we adopted a shoes off policy at this point.

Finished kitchen

Finished kitchen

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Finished front room

Finished front room

 

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2 comments on “DIY Hardwood Floor Renovation

  1. Mike Reidt says:

    So cool. Very informative too. Thank you!

    Like

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