Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Hardwoods – 2 down, 2 to go

First-Floor Basics, Major Projects

How much Advil does it take to dull the pain caused by 2 12-hour days of kneeling and squatting? And why the hell didn’t I buy my own set of knee pads???

Our weekend can be summed up in a few words – pain, exhaustion, and exilhiration. We rented an orbital drum sander Saturday morning, and worked diligently all weekend to get two (of four) hardwood floors sanded, stained, and varnished. Here’s a quick summary of events:

Friday Night:

We removed everything from the two rooms (the bedroom and office) and piled it up in the living room and dining room. We wrapped and taped anything in the house that dust could potentially ruin, like the tv and computers. Then, we did one last round of carpet-tack hunting and went to bed early so we’d be ready for the weekend ahead.


We rented the orbital sander from Home Depot ($70/day, plus sanding pads) and went to town on the office floor, which is roughly 200 sq. ft. The sander was not nearly as hard to work with as we had imagined. In fact, I wish it had been a little more powerful – it took a long time to get everything off! We found that only one of the four sanding pads had much oomph to it, so we lead with that pad and replaced it about 2-3 times more often than the other three.

The main sanding took a few hours, and then we had to go around the edges with a power sander, which took another few hours. We weren’t incredibly anal about getting every last speck of color off them because we like the aged look.

After the entire floor was sanded, and all big gaps/holes filled with wood putty, I vacuumed like crazy (on my hands hands & knees with the Shop-Vac) and then used tackcloth to get every last bit of dust out of the room. When it was dust-free, I threw on a pair of shoe covers and started staining the edges and floor. The edges by hand with a rag, and used a lambswool mop-head-ish attachment to stain the rest. We used two applications of Minwax red mahogany, which gives makes the problem areas less noticeable and matches closely to the old finish.

While I stained the office, Teague was busy sanding in the bedroom. By Saturday night at 11pm we had finished all of our major sanding (hooray – no extra rental fees!) and had 2 coats of stain on the office floor. We taped up the doorway to prevent fumes from escaping (works better than it sounds!) and crashed on a mattress in the middle of our living room floor, where we slept uncomfortably until early the next morning.


Ahhh….. nothing like waking up, knees throbbing and bones creaking, and having to start all over again. I thought about having a nervous breakdown to get myself out of more sanding, but decided the pain would be worth it. So, about half of Sunday was spent crawling around sanding the edges of the living room, vacuuming up the dust, and getting it ready to stain.

We threw a coat of poly on the office floor around 2pm, and spent the rest of the day peeking in with wonder and amazement because it looks AWESOME. So very, very good.

By 10pm on Sunday, the living room was fully stained and ready for it’s 8+ hours of drying time.

Teague threw a coat of varnish on it this morning, so now we’ve got to wait it out for 3 days before sanding both (lightly) and adding another coat of varnish to them. Then, 3-4 MORE days before we can put furniture in there. That means another week of camping on the floor. Good times! It’s definitely worth it though, and we’re thrilled to finally tackle this project.

I’ll give a post-project wrap-up when it’s all over, but here’s some photos to tide you over:

Before – lots of paint specks, scuffs, and crud!

During – here you can see the edges have been stained, and I have just laid a new layer of stain on the right-hand side.

After – with one layer of varnish (still wet)

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Ronni had this to say on 05.01.06:

You guys did an awesome job!!! The floors look beautiful, great color choice.
We had ours done upstairs before we moved in and when they were done we felt like we won the lottery. The “new” floors made a huge difference, everything seemed so clean and fresh, which was a big deal for us as our house was, and is, very far from clean and fresh!
How many times a day have you peeked in to see how pretty they look? I’m guessing a million.

Kristin had this to say on 05.01.06:

It looks awesome! (and sounds miserable) Keep up the good work!

Danielle had this to say on 05.01.06:

WOW – looks amazing already! Wish the husband and I were enough of DIYers to tackle our floors ourselves. You guys should be super proud!

Becky had this to say on 05.01.06:

Wow! That looks beautiful, you guys!

john had this to say on 05.01.06:

The floor looks great! Congratulations. What kind of wood are your floors (sorry if you already mentioned it and I missed it)? Pine? Oak? In any case, I love the color.

kim had this to say on 05.01.06:


Trissa had this to say on 05.01.06:

Beautiful- it’s always worth the work when you get to the “finished” product. Way to go!

mindy had this to say on 05.02.06:

Thanks all! John – We thought at first they were red oak, but after seeing them stripped we waver on the “red” part. They’re definitely oak though.

The color is a double-coat of Minwax Red Mahogany, if anyone’s interested. ;)

Eilis had this to say on 05.02.06:

Mmmmmmmm…hardwoods. Reminds me of my days at Yates street. *tear* Looks great you guys! You must be soooo stoked.

Heidi had this to say on 05.03.06:

Oh my gawd! It’s gorgeous! I covet your floors! That is exactly what my cheapo laminate floors want to be when they grow up.

colleen had this to say on 05.04.06:

we redid our pine floors when we bought our house . did 16 + hrs a day sanding x3 days before movers arrived. then put down the thickest plastic i could find. had 1 muddy foot print from mover guys. then we did 1 room at a time with polyurathane water base cause it was winter. i just redid the traffic areas last nov. this was one project that gives the most satisfaction.
yours look great and will be worth all the aggravation. colleen

We love to hear from you, dear readers.

Please note: Comments are moderated to keep out the spam. It may take a while for them to show on the page.