Blog, Projects

How (not) to Refinish Wood Floors

Our wood floors took us a bit longer to finish that we anticipated. As newbie DIYer’s and cheapos, we thought that we could install and refinish hardwood floors in one night. Did that happen? No no no.

Here’s our failed and final attempt at our wood floors!

We finished removing the multiple layers of old flooring. Our big kitchen, wasn’t always this way. It was two rooms originally, and the previous owners had knocked down a wall to expand it. But the original kitchen didn’t have nice hardwood floors. There was a lot of water damage and half of the floors needed to get replaced.


Once we removed the old flooring, we tackled removing all those pesky staples. We messed with a lot of different tools. But the one that we found worked the best are locking pliers (thanks for the recommendation Tom!).


Some other tools that we used. Hammer, weird thing that I picked up in the car section at Harbor Freight and diagonal pliers.



I had the (terrible) idea to remove, install, and refinish our hardwood floors in one night. I should not be in charge of timelines. For some reason, I figured that this would be easy.



BTW – we got a new member of the family. Her name is Hazelnut (Hazel). She’s a handful, playful and one sweet girl!


We went to Home Depot and we talked to a their tool rental guy. Since we didn’t know what we were doing, he recommended this Square sander.



But I would NOT recommend that. We (or should I say Derek) managed to stay up all night installing floors, sanding and staining the floors. We (he) probably stayed up to 5 am – 6 am doing just that. We napped for a bit to let the stain sit for eight hours. Used a water-based polyurethane, sanded then put a second coat of poly on.


So here’s where we went wrong. We thought that we should use a dark stain, only because it would help blend the old and new floors together. To help prep the floors, we used mineral spirits – to help pick up all of the dust. However, we didn’t give it enough time (and we weren’t going with the grain), so we ended up with blotchy floors.

We thought that putting on the two coats of poly would help with the blotches (stupid, I know). But we didn’t want to have to go through and sand, stain and polyurethane all over again. After a few days of mulling it over, we decided that we had to do it all over again.


This time, we rented a Drum Sander. And it went by SO much faster! Derek got the hang of it pretty fast and he got it all done in a matter of a couple of hours. We purchased a lot of different colors to stain the floors with, but the colors were either too dark or didn’t show up. After much deliberation, we decided to not stain the floors. After we sanded the floors, we vacuumed and used alcohol to clean up the dust. The alcohol evaporated and we didn’t have to wait long to start applying the polyurethane. We followed the same process and sanded in between coats. Then we finally ended up with this!

floors_v13_900x1200 floors_v12_900x1200

I will say that the floors turned out pretty well. It’s hard to tell where the old floors end and the new floors begin in the photos. In person, I can tell and it annoys me. But I’m glad that this looks good on the internet. I will say that if we didn’t stain the floors the first time, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the nice coloring on the floors the second time around.

So, while time consuming, it worked in our favor.

1 Comment

  1. Anmarie.Oleary (mom)

    December 8, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Love all the pictures
    Alot of hard work
    You both did a great job!
    Love the king of the old floors
    Love mom

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