Hardwood, hard work

After six days we are about 2/3 of the way through re-finishing the hardwood floors in the house. All of the rough sanding is complete, which is the worst part of the job. We have finish sanding, crack filling with wood putty, staining, and finishing to do in 3/4 of the house.  But, we have the dining room stained, and the casita has the first coat of stain.

For any of you considering this project in your own home, here are some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned:  You’ll need to sand with three different gauges of sandpaper, we’ve used 24/60/100. Rough sanding is rough! It’s the hardest part of the job and requires a lot of time, patience, and some heavy duty sanding equipment. Initially we rented this type of sander from Lowe’s floor department www.hardwood-floor-sanders.com/details.asp. For two days Don struggled along with this machine which sucked was not even remotely up to the task of removing the old finish. We took it back and went over to Home Depot which has a much larger tool rental department (and staff who are very helpful and knowledgeable). We rented this bigger and much more powerful sander specifically designed for this task homerenovations.about.com/od/floors/a/artfloorsander.htm. Our next problem was sanding edges and corners. We were attempting to do this with our belt sander and electric hand sander, again we had the wrong tools for the job. Another trip to Home Depot and we came back with this homerenovations.about.com/od/floors/a/artfloorsander_3.htm. Once we got a feel for the tools-these are powerful pieces of equipment and there is a learning curve and a certain amount of technique involved- we were finally making real progress. We are now at the point of finish sanding; we’ll exchange the other two sanders for this one homerenovations.about.com/od/floors/a/artfloorsander_2.htm to do the final 100 grit sanding. A couple of other hints:  fill in all the cracks with wood putty in between the rough sanding with the 24 grit and the 60 grit paper, use the drum sander for the 60 grit- it can be difficult to get the residual wood putty off the floor-the drum sander being heavier is the more efficient tool for the job.  Let the person with the most upper body strength operate the edge sander, it’s designed to be used on your knees but it’s very powerful and will pull you around if you don’t have a good deal of upper body strength to control it.  I had to use it bent over with my elbows on my knees and my feet spread wide apart to form a solid enough base to keep it from running off with me and still be effective.   Not only did I look like a stink bug scooting around the room, but it was hell on my back.  It was a much easier task for Don, who could use it properly. Staining is easy: open all the windows for ventilation, put on your knee pads and elbow length rubber gloves, grab a cheese cloth rag, and go for it. Be sure to shake up the stain before starting and rub it in well. We’re finding we need two coats of stain and that it’s best to let it dry overnight, if possible, before walking on it. We haven’t applied the finish coat yet so I don’t have any tips about that at this point. Last but not least, don’t skimp on dust masks-get the good ones- and knee pads; a lot of this job is done on your hands and knees.

The dining room floor is gorgeous! It will be well worth the effort and make such a difference once we’re done and our backs quit hurting. I have pictures of the whole process that I’ll post once I have a spare minute or two to upload them to the computer.

In the meantime, a new task was preparing itself for us in the front yard while we sanded away inside. A dead tree (0n the fence line near where we were working to clear the gate last weekend) gave it up and collapsed into the front yard taking out the fence and possibly a good portion of a lilac that was in its path. We knew this tree would have to come down, it’s completely dead,  covered in honeysuckle and trumpet vines, and an obvious hazard,  we just expected to be in control of the when and how.  Now it’s much more of an urgent task than it was before.
There was one highlight to this otherwise completely work filled holiday weekend; we took a nice relaxing and well deserved soak in our new hot tub with new neighbors Dave & Leslie Saturday evening. The water temp. was perfect, thanks to previous owner Amy,  and the company couldn’t have been better.

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