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  1. #1
    Gold Member ddb123's Avatar
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    Default Refinishing hardwood floors

    Hi guys,

    I figured this would be a good topic to bounce off the TBN crowd. My house has mostly hardwood floors. Some of these floors are pretty old and worn. A couple spots look like a kid intentionally carved geometric shapes into it. I am ready to refinish the floors and get them looking gorgeous again. I don't know anyone who has tackled such a project on their own, nor do I know anyone who does this kind of thing for pay. Can anyone advise me as to the feasibility of doing this on my own? I am 30 and able-bodied, but (and I know this anathema for a tractor owner) honestly not very handy. I have a garage full of basic power tools that I can use well enough, but I have no experience with any type of construction, and I'm definitely no craftsman. My worry is that I would end up over-sanding the floor and damaging the wood itself. This seems to happen every time I sand wood (about the only thing I know how to build is beehives). I also seem to screw up stain when I apply it, so applying the finish to my precious floors is worrisome. My other worry is that I would wind up taking weeks or months to finish the project when really it's my living space, I need it to live in. So as a secondary question (this is a long shot), does anyone know who in the Joplin, MO area does this kind of thing?

    To recap, since that was a bit of a ramble: 1) Is this too hard for a person like me to tackle, and 2) if so, does anyone happen to know someone who does this around the Joplin, MO area?

    Thanks, tractor crowd
    Kubota L3540 HST
    Kubota L4300 Gear *gone!*
    Ford F-350 6.9L diesel

  2. #2
    Silver Member
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    Gasconade County,Mo
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    New Holland TC29,Ford Jubilee

    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    There are two types of sanders to refinish with,a drum sander,and a random orbital,both should be available from local rental source. The drum sander is more aggressive and more likely to gouge the floor,must keep it moving at all times. Can be done with a little practice,random orbital is much more forgiving.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member Deere Dude's Avatar
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    Hee Haw He!!, TN
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    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    I helped by boy who is a hardwood floor restorer one time a few years ago in a big restaurant. He used a walk behind 16" floor polisher with a 60 grit screen to get most of the polyurethane off and then a finer sand screen, maybe 120 grit after than. We put the screen on the machine and than walk after it and keep it moving. Of course something smaller is needed for the edges. Then clean real good and finish. This sight might help as will others.

    Refinishing School | Wood Floors | Flooring | This Old House - 1
    JD 3720 with R4s
    X740

  4. #4
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    Acworth, NH
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    JD 2305

    Default

    I refinished all the floors in my 1790 house myself. It took months & my knees haven't been right since.
    Since the house was so old I didn't want to have new looking floors. The floors had about 12 different colors of paint on them so I used some orange non toxic paint stripper. It wasn't great but zips trip can wreck your furnace. I scraped by hand until I got to the bare wood. If I found any nice figure in the wood I would steel wool it a bit to bring out the figure. It took a long time.
    When I finished I applied a couple coats of glossy Varuthane (for strength) followed by one coat of matte Varuthane. It is gorgeous & looks like waxed wood. All the character is still there & everyone who comes into the house comments on the floors. It was a brutal job & I would never do it again but when I see those floors, it was totally worth it. But you are young, go for it.
    Good luck
    Brian

  5. #5
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    easten Colorado
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    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    there are a few different types of sanders,

    the DRUM sander, and as said one needs to keep it moving (in a small area hard to do) the DIY unit is usually a rocking type, and the pro units use a lever to raise and lower, one needs to be moving when lowering, It takes some skill to do right, (usually the HP ratings of the DIY and the PRO units are different, the DIY are 120 volt and the pro usually 220,),

    then there is the EDGER , a disk sander for working out the edges of the room where the drum can not reach,
    (there are specialty edgers, for getting under things, like old radiators, and toe kicks and so on),

    and now the floor Buffer I use a short stiff brush and net screen sand paper and finish it off with the buffer,

    they make other sanders, as well olsating units and large vibrating pads, that are usually rental units for DIY, slow cutting but not very aggressive, would be a real pain for any major sanding,

    now some of the "carvings" may or may not be able to be total removed, depending on depth, depending on the area and you desire to remove, it may be better to find some replacement floor ing and replace the effected area and then sand it down, (usually in a situation like that the Patna of age will be removed by sanding, and if not all is one can selective stain the new area to closely match the old,

    with out a dust capturing system, the house will be filled with dust, and it will get in every where, so plastic off bed rooms and other that can be, take the dust out side and empty an dust bags, and empty dust bags at night, spontaneous combustion can take place in them,

    If you have a lot of floor, start back in a bed room or some place that is hard to see reflections of the floor and learn on it,
    a wavy or gouged floor under the bed is not as hard to take as one in the living room,

    (my knees are bad, and I bought a rolling stool with casters that I could lay on (my chest) and then guide the edger around the room), and to corners,

    using a shop or hand held palm sander will take you (what would seem like for ever), it may be an option for some touch up work or in a door way small area that one can not get with the larger machines,

    (there are a lot of U tube videos and there are how to tapes one can buy on floor finishing,)

  6. #6
    Veteran Member yelbike's Avatar
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    Near Winnipeg, Mb, Canada
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    Default

    I did mine in our first house. use something like dish soap to remove all the wax. Wax on the floor will slow you done by clogging the sand paper. My wife always cleans with vinegar and water, so we had no wax to deal with. I think the drum is faster but requires skill, i skipped it and use the orbital type. Get the aggressive paper, i think 60grit. Sanding will be pretty fast. Than do the required edges with a palm sander. Once that's done go over with the finer grit, i think 180 grit. I did about 700 sq ft in about 2-3 hours. I used a kit from verathane refinishing product. You can stain your floor, i did and it looked great. The only problem i had was the finish coat had slight bubbles in it. I think i could have sanded them out, but i wasn't bad enough to worry, plus we sold the home about 6 months later.

    I think patience is more important than skill on this job. Try it, you'll be happy with yourself. The only way to wreck you floors is that drum sander imo.
    Cheers
    Carefull what you aim for, Aim for nothing and you will achieve it with amazing accuracy.

  7. #7
    Gold Member ddb123's Avatar
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    Default

    Lots of good info here! Thanks everyone. I think I will try my hand at it. The advice about patience trumping skill gives me confidence. I can go a room at a time. The sanding doesn't worry me as much as the staining and finishing does. I have closets and whatnot I can practice on for that. And I definitely won't use a drum sander!
    Kubota L3540 HST
    Kubota L4300 Gear *gone!*
    Ford F-350 6.9L diesel

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    My wife and I just redid all the floors in our 1920's farm house last winter, here's what we did:

    1. Removed all the old floor coverings, which ranged from carpet to linoleum glued down with horrible black glue, then scrubbed the floors clean with paint thinner, mineral spirits, whatever.

    2. Rented a drum sander from RSC. It was a good sized unit with a lever operated head. Started in a back room and tested out various grits of paper until I found one that worked quickly but not overly aggressive. There is a little bit of a knack to operating these, watch some videos on youtube.

    3. Rented a large vibrtating plate sander from another rental outfit and went over all the floors with that, starting at 60 grit and moving up to 180.

    4. Around the edges I used a belt sander for the first rough pass, then a random orbit sander subsequently.

    5. Once all the sanding was done we cleaned the floors well and wiped them down with a tack cloth.

    6. Since we wanted the original 1920's look, we wanted to use shellac. We found some non-wax shellac at lowes and tinted it with dye from a wood working supply house. The different rooms with different types of floor got different colors/tints. Most got 2 to 2 coats of shellac.

    7. Then I put down several coats of water based polyurethane. I used a brush around the edges and a pad on a handle for the open areas. I used Varathane semi-gloss, everything got at least 4 coats and the kitchen and hall way got 6 coats.

    All in all we are very please at how it turned out. Its not perfect, but then again this is an old farmhouse, not a showplace.
    Kubota B3200
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    I've done my maple floors twice. Once when I put them down and recently after the kids and the dogs have left (the dog came back )

    I strongly suggest using stripper to remove all previous finish before you bring in the sanding machine. The job goes so much more quickly, and you save on sand paper and the work of changing.

    Rent the machines "over the week end" that will keep you motivated to get the job done!

    Use the edger FIRST. Pulling baseboards is a definite advantage to a pleasing result, but a lot of work to do so. I wouldn't even think of not doing it.

    If you are not "inclined" to the work, skip the drum sander and go right to the vibratory pad sander . With the course grit sheets, the removal still goes along at a good pace.

    sand THOROUGHLY with each grit before changing to the next finer. Time well spent.! It sucks to work over a spot with 180 for an hour that could have been done in five minutes with 60 grit.

    IF you are going to STAIN, use a sealer first. It's the only way to prevent blotchy results. I like mat finishes they show the problem areas less.

    Get way more pads and sanding sheets than you think you will need. Double!. They are pricey, but you will need some of them. And the remaining ones are returned for credit with the machine. It's a NO Brainer.

    First coat goes down thinned. second coat is full and wet. use a lambs wool applicator on a 6 foot handle.

    (I've got a wide pine floor in a bedroom that I put down. Finished only in Butcher's Wax. Soft and beautiful, but NO SHOES!)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Refinishing hardwood floors

    Normally the floors clean up very well. In one house the varnish was very gooey and prone to plugging the belts very quickly. I ended up scraping the floor with a set of four Robertson scrapers and a 12" disk sander which I towed behind me, running, for sharpening after every three strokes on the floor. Once the goo was off, the floors sanded well.

    Read the enclosed review of the 8" Clarke Floor Sander and let me know if you want more expert advice.

    Product Review: Clarke 8″ Floor Sander Walnut Diary

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