Refinishing the floors: Part 3

Here's some fun (yeah, right) tips for refinishing hardwood floors that we learned along the way:

  • get a good mask: We wore crappy masks and interesting things were coming out of our nose (what, too much info?).
  • get ear plugs: Yeah, we didn't wear ear protection and our ears were ringing for quite some time. That edge sander is really loud when using in a room without furniture.
  • clean as you go: I'm a "clean as you go" person. Since our upstairs has a dutch door at the bottom of the stairs, we did not have any wood dust downstairs. I did keep a broom and bucket upstairs to sweep up as we were working. The only things I've had to clean up so far are the upstairs windows and moldings. Not too bad. We also emptied the drum sander bag frequently and used the shop vac to clean the sander about every hour.
  • tape up everything: We taped up the built-in cabinets but forgot to tape up our fake return duct. The upstairs return duct is actually our attic/bathroom fan. Last night, the Dude shop vac'd (is that a verb?) it out because we were afraid we would set the house on fire by a wood dust spark.
  • timing: You might consider sanding your floors before you move into your house with all of your junk things and not picking a weekend with the temperature in the 90s (which meant the upstairs was in the triple digits). We failed on both parts.
  • prep work: Prepping the room or for any project is the suckiest part of the job. You really need to take some time getting everything prepared for sanding and putting down poly. If you take a short cut, it will show or you have a chance to set your house on fire by not removing all of those stupid staples in the floor from the carpet. We also thought we could get away with not sanding between coats of poly. In between the first two coats we did not sand but then started after that since the floors did not feel that smooth.
  • low expectations: We had very low expectations going into the project. Originally we thought the boards would be in horrible condition and I was already mentally preparing to paint the floor. Also, it's an old house...we knew the floors would not look like the fancy new mcmansion.
  • vacation: Okay, this part is lame. But we treated this project like we were on some wacky three day vacation. We forgot to go food shopping prior to starting and was "forced" to eat out for most meals. We also treated our self to ice cream every night as a reward. Also, the Dude had to use my bathroom since his was the one upstairs housing a tv, a tv stand and shoe storage units. He mentioned that using my bathroom was like he was staying at a hotel. I know, what ever works...

Hope our mis-steps help you on your hardwood floor project.

Since this post is a bit long, I'll put something together with the budget and timeline a little later.


  1. Hey Lisa, this post could've been written by me and my fiance! We also took a week off work to refinish our floors and wouldn't you know it, that wasn't enough time. We didn't get it completed in time to take a real weekend trip that we'd planned. UGH

  2. I have no real wood floor but Im sure if I did this would be very helpful. Well written.

  3. I think a raging hangover is also a good thing to have on hand when refinishing floors. Makes the job go SO much faster.

    Not that I would know.

  4. Ah man, I would have died if I had a hangover during the process. I already had a headache from the lack of ear protection or from the 120 degree heat upstairs.