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DIY Floor Refinish: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

So, we refinished the wood floors in the avocado house last weekend/this weekend, and as the title might hint at, things didn’t go exactly the way we wanted them to.

Here is how they looked before:

bedroom floor before refinishing bedroom floor before refinish wood floor before refinish

We did our research. We did our homework. We knew what kind of sander we needed to rent and what kind of finish we needed to use (oil based polyurethane) and how to apply it and everything.

We headed to Home Depot on Saturday morning to rent the sander. We were lucky enough to run into Brian, who was a floor-refinishing expert and gave us lots of good advice. He looked at pictures of our floor and told us there really wasn’t a ton of work to do since it wasn’t terribly damaged or anything. He advised we use the buffer sander instead of the orbital one, since it wouldn’t gouge our floors and we really didn’t need that aggressive of sanding anyway.

the sander we used
The not-so-trusty (?) sander.

I would like to point out at this time that our disappointing outcome was of course not Brian’s fault.

We took the sander home and got to work. We had three different grits, first 60, then 80, then 120. After sanding with the 60 grit, we noticed some lines in the floor, but figured the finer grits would take care of that. They did, to a degree, but even after sanding with the 120 there were still some lines in the floor. We then figured the finish would take care of it.

It did not. If anything, it made the lines more obvious.

After some wailing and upsetness and then some research, we discovered that we had probably used a sander that was a bit off-balance, resulting in chatter marks on our floor.

bedroom floor after sanding

starting to apply oil based polyurethane
The chatter marks became more obvious when the finish first went on.

We had to evaluate how bad it really looked compared to the amount of time we had left to finish the project (not much) and our will and psychological ability to completely redo the floor (also not much). Finally we concluded that it wasn’t THAT bad, really, and the floors will look their age in the end – 100 years old.

So, it doesn’t look terrible, but it’s really not what we were imagining. I guess that’s what happens sometimes with projects like this. After another couple coats of finish had time to soak it, it’s starting to look pretty nice.

another coat of finish applied
Just after another coat of oil-based polyurethane was applied.

Now, on to the next thing – tiling the kitchen backsplash.


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  1. Gwendolyn Gwendolyn

    Well I think your floors look just beautiful. I don’t notice those lines in the last photo’s. I think people will come in and say, wow, these floors are beautiful if you don’t mention anything.

    • Flo Flo

      Aww, thanks! As the finish seeps into the wood more, it does kind of hide the imperfections and look nicer. I think also once we are not staring at it constantly and are just living our lives in there, it will look fine. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

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