Refinishing Hardwood Floors

refinishing hardwood floors for beginners

Did you see Tuesday’s post with our fall bucket list? I can’t wait to start crossing items off that list! Fall might just be my favorite season. Maybe.

Anyways, we are officially more than halfway through on our last big project before move in: refinishing the hardwood floors. I hope to compile a big “before” post to show you the condition that our house was in when we bought it soon, but for now I will say that the hardwood floors were hidden under cat pee soaked carpet – not kidding – and were so damaged that we had to replace approximately 1/3 of the hardwoods and even a good amount of the subfloor underneath.  It was quite a project and, let me tell you, not one we were anticipating! Fortunately, my husband found some brand new hardwoods on Craigslist for a steal and threaded the old hardwoods that were salvageable with the new. I am so thankful that we were able to save some of the original hardwoods and didn’t have to put down carpet. I’m pretty sure genuine hardwood will always be my favorite flooring material. As my dad says, “there’s nothing like the real stuff.”

After finishing all the painting and other major projects, we were finally able to start on the refinishing process last weekend. Now, my husband had never sanded flooring before, and of IMG_4115course we heard all the horror stories of ruined, wavy floors. He consulted with several people before attempting it himself, and he also opted not to rent the oversized drum sander.  First he sanded the steps with a hand sander (we just have two sets of 5 steps- it’s a bi-level) and then he rented an edger to sand around the room edges and hallway. Then he began the process of sanding the main flooring. And guess what? It wasn’t hard. Just incredibly labor-intensive. His verdict is that if you have any inclination to work with your hands at all, you can probably do it well. And in my opinion the floors look like a professional did them – smooth and even! Not to mention it saves us almost $8,000 by the time we stain…ridiculous.

hardwood floor refinishing
Raw floors after one rough sand
hardwood floors refinish
Raw floors after second rough sand









I got so excited when I walked in the house and saw the floors as pictured above. I can’t believe that after all that damage, they look so good (and that’s not the finished product). I am a true believer that before replacing floors, you need to SAND THEM OUT! anyways, they were almost in good enough shape to go natural, but there are two species of wood (red & white oak) and you can unfortunately pick out the new wood. So, we experimented with stains. We wanted something not too dark to show every speck of dust and pet hair,but not at all yellow-y/orange-y like the lighter stains tend to appear.  And let me tell you -the process of selecting a stain is much more fun than that of selecting a paint color! You can buy little jars of stain to test.


top half: miniwax provencial bottom half: miniwax honey









The image on the right (Miniwax provencial) is the current stain color we are LOVING. However, it is oil based and Solomon wanted to find a water-based stain so it won’t yellow or develop rings over time. We might try to match the stain exactly if possible! It doesn’t have a yellow cast, is the perfect balance between light & dark, and disguises the difference in woods so well. It gives me an instant cozy feeling and makes me think of reading under blankets with rain beating on the windows.

I can’t wait to reveal the final product. Oh, and Solomon just reminded me that we bought the new wood for $250. We combined it with the old wood that we could save and covered about 600 sq. feet. The only additional cost will be the sander rentals, stain, and sealer, all of which are minimal. So worth it. Don’t rip out your old hardwoods! 😉

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