We decided to try to refinish our hardwood floors ourselves. Many of our friends and family told us that it was a piece of cake and a great way to save loads of money.
I was all for hiring someone - I mean I really wanted professional results. But, I was willing to put in all the work and save lots of money.
So, here are my tips to DIY Refinish Hardwood floors.
1 - Know When NOT to DIY
Save your money as long as it takes until you can pay a professional. I really can not stress this enough. Even though we attempted to do this ourselves - we are bailing out. It is really a bigger project than we can handle. Maybe if our floors were not 100 years old, or covered in layers and layers of god know what - maybe we would have different feeling on the matter.
2 - Sanders
Rent the best sander out there. Do not believe when the guy at the rental place says that XYZ sander is just fine for residental use. Tell him you want the sander that the pros use. We started with an easy to use sander. It had 3 round disks and was in a triangle shape. This machine was easy to use and got a lot of the film and varnish off the floor. However, after 8 hours of sanding (with different grits) that is barely what was off the floor. Again, if the floor was not as old, maybe this would have been a great sander.
After a whole day of sanding, and our floor still looking like crap, we decided to rent the super pro sander. This sander is called an orbital or belt sander. The sander has a long wheel where the paper sits and it spins like a wheel. This sander worked GREAT!! It was harder to use than the first one, but you got used to it after a few passes - just start where the couch, etc will be.
We also rented an edger - this thing was HARD to use as it was so powerful that it had a mind of its own. It did not have rhyme or reason where or why it sanded. Plus, it was not a long handle type of thing, so you were either squatting, knelling, or on your knees.
3 -Knee Pads
Knee Pad???? - Yup, as much as you can't think about why or when you would need knee pads, trust me - you need them. It seemed like I was on my knees a lot. It was using the vac, using the edger, wiping up the dust, looking for staples or nails......I was on my knees all day. My knees are still red from yesterday.
So, beg, borrow, steal (OK - maybe not steal) - but get knee pads any way you can. Trust me it will be worth it in the end.
4 - No contacts, please
I usually wear contacts but decided not too because the amount of dirt. I am glad that I made that choice because I was still rubbing my eyes often.
5 - Pick your nose!
OK - now I am getting into the "personal" tips. But seriously - pick your nose and pick it often. We did not wear a face mask. Maybe if we did then this type would not be required. But the dirt in my nose was just gross. So, I figured the more I cleaned it out the better it was. And yes, I did try just blowing my nose. Picking was totally a better method.
6 - Dirt is GREAT for your skin
What the heck am I talking about???? Dirt can't be good for your skin. Well, I have to beg to differ. The amount of dirt on my face was totally gross. But let me tell you - when I took a shower and started cleaning my face - well the dirt was a great exfoliator!!! My skin was so smooth after the shower!. I might just bottle up some dirt and sell it as the next beauty secret!!
7 - Know when to call it quits.
First let me say that my neighbor is a floor guy. We got a quote from him last week - higher than others we got.
After sanding for 8 hours with a crappy sander, I told my husband that we should have floor guy (FG) come over and at least give us some info. I really wanted to know if this was going to be the best that we could get. I said that FG might be able to give us a tip on how to do it better or might even say we are doing it all wrong.
But - my husband is stubborn - even more so than me. He said, "no, lets just get the other machine"
We spent more money to rent 2 more machines and more money getting the paper for these machine. We worked for another 2+ hours today before my husband finally said, "This fucking sucks, we will sand for another 5 hours and still have the floors look like shit" - "Let's just throw in the towel and ask FG to do it." - "Maybe since we did some of the work he will knock off a few bucks"
So in the end we will have paid about $200 for rental fees and paper used. We are able to return anything that we don't use.
So, if we can knock off a few bucks form FG's price, then it will basically equal what it would have been if we jujst went with FG in the first place.
I feel so defeated. I really thought this would be much easier. Again, if our floors were in OK shape and maybe were not over 100 years old, well then it may be a different story. But with the edger so hard to use, the marks where the sanding is uneven, the hallway that has to be done by hand because it is too narrow for the machine, and the fact the our bodies are HURTING, we are throwing in the towel and getting a pro to do the floors.
We will stick to DIY projects that are annoying - but do-able (aka painting the stairs)
I will post pictures our our sanding job and then pictures of the FG's sanding. I am just hoping that it can be done this week!!!