I have finally arrived at a point where I got to refinish the wood floors in the bedroom!! I have been waiting for this and it really did make it feel like I finally made some positive progress! The floor in the bedroom had the grossest color of paint around the edges and was worn and dull in the center. With the help of an orbital sander that I rented and one and a half days work, the floors went from dull to gorgeous!!
Check out these before and after pictures! I am so stoked about how these turned out!! Also note that the center of the room was raw wood without any sort of paint or clear coat. The edges of the room had this ugly orange/brown color painted all around. I wondered who would choose that color, but then I decided the same people that would make the decision to paint beautiful wood floors might do that (complete craziness!).
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This is the orbital sander that I rented for $45 for the day. It was easy to use, but it’s really heavy and it would be good to have two people to lift it in and out of the truck (unless you’re super buff-then you’re good!)
Along with the sander, I had to buy this white pad that resembles a large dish scrubby. It was just a few bucks.
I also bought a variety of sand papers, everything from the coarsest to the finest. (These were $3-$6 each and I returned what I didn’t use). All of this was available at the rental store. They also gave a quick tutorial on use of the sander.
It was really easy to get started. Just peel the backing off of the sandpaper and lay it on the floor. Start with the coarsest grit and then work your way to the finer grit.
Then lay the large dish scrubby looking pad on top of the sandpaper.
Then set the sander on top of of the scrubby pad. It’s heavy to lift the whole thing, but it’s easy to rotate back onto its back wheels.
Plug it in and turn it on!! The whole machine vibrates a little bit violently. I wouldn’t start with it near a wall until you get the feel for it. It’s fairly easy to steer around as it’s vibrating. I was warned to keep it moving so it sands evenly and doesn’t wear a dent in the floor in one area. Truthfully, it wasn’t that aggressive, and not something to stress over.
In the areas that had paint, as the machine vibrates, it heats up the paint and it ends up balling up on the underside of the sandpaper. I went through several sheets of the coarse sandpaper before I got all the paint off from around the edges.
You can see the difference in my sandpapers here:
This is what the sandpaper looked like after going around the edge of the room. You can see all the paint balled up:
And this is what the same grit of sandpaper looked like after sanding the entire room after the paint was removed. There is hardly anything on it:
Here is a picture of the paint on the floor prior to sanding and a picture of the paint after a couple passes with the sander. Removing the paint took several passes with the sander. It wasn’t quick work.
Looking closely at this picture, you can see how much dust this created. I used the vacuum between each pass around the room to try to minimize the mess, but it was still messy!! It’s also a good idea to wear a mask to protect your lungs from all the dust you’re stirring up.
If there is a lot of paint on the floor or a clear coat, you may want to opt for a drum sander. It was the same rental price and the sandpaper was comparable in price.
This is a more aggressive sander that will take off the finish a lot faster. Rather than vibrate like the orbital sander, it has a wheel that rotates at a high speed. Sandpaper can be purchased in varying grit depending on the project needs. Start with the coarse grit and work your way finer.
The sandpaper is a circular tube that slides over the drum like so:
This sander is more aggressive and will sand a dent into your floor if you aren’t careful. There is a lever that pushes down to lower the rotating drum. As you lower the drum, make sure the sander is moving forward and make sure to lift the drum as you are still moving forward so you don’t stop in one place. You have to be a little more careful with this sander, but it’s still relatively easy to use and you shouldn’t be scared to give it a try, especially if you have a thick surface/paint/finish that needs to be removed.
I used this sander on a different project but wanted to throw this information in here because it might be a better option depending on the project. Another option is to use the drum sander to remove the finish and then use the orbital sander afterwards for a smooth finish.
After I was done sanding, I sat with the vacuum and an exacto knife and vacuumed and scraped out the cracks between the wood planks. I put a clear coat over the top and I didn’t want to trap the old dirt, dog hair, and who knows what else in there forever.
I used a satin finish polyurethane for my finish on the floors and applied it with this applicator. Note that polyurethane will have a slight ambering effect (add an amber color to the floors making them a little darker) unless you buy the “non-ambering” variety which costs a little bit more ($69-ish vs $45-ish). I did 3 coats of polyurethane following the instructions on the can and I used nearly a gallon on just the bedroom. It needs to let it dry for 3-4 hours between coats, but if you let it sit longer than 12 hours you have to lightly sand it before applying another coat (and I don’t have time for that in my life!!), so I made sure to plan out when I was going to apply the layers to avoid that extra step.
After one coat:
Safety first!! This stuff has a really strong odor so make sure to protect yourself during application and then stay away from the odor while it’s drying!
After three coats:
I am so excited about how they turned out I can hardly stand it!! I’m almost done with the bedroom and ready to decorate!!
This project was a little bit time consuming, but overall fairly easy and definitely doable by anyone! If you have old floors that you want to refinish, go for it!!