Refinishing the floor (or how to refinish a floor for under $250)


Wednsday night after work I took possession of my new house. Man was I happy to take the keys. New House

Here I am in my afterwork jeans standing inbetween the kitchen and the living room. See the carpet there? That carpet was doomed.


All you big girls out there will understand the greatness of the doubledeep tub, thats right I was pointing my toes out in order to touch the other end of the tub while laying in it. The oversized bathroom really is possibly my favorite room.

Front room

Here’s the front room, with carpet.

Front Room 2

It’s a great front room, big (compared to what I’m used to), but that carpet…


The kitchen window. To be fair the kitchen is a bit small, I however am not much of a cook, nor am I much of a kitchen dweller, I do like how open it is, perfect for dying. And as you may have been able to ascertain, there is no shortage of windows in mah new house.

Room Sans carpet

As you can see, once the carpet was ripped out things started looking up. Sure there were some issues.

Room Closet

Prior to putting down the lovely carpet (a cross between smokers lung yellow and peptobismal pink) they must have painted and in their wisdom said “who cares about putting down some form of protector on the hardwood. There were splotches of paint like this in the bedroom, hall and living room, luckily the sander took them off without much effort.

Hallway to Front Room.

After the first pass with 20grit sandpaper the paint was mostly gone (as you can see in this comparisson picture). Some spots where the wood didn’t meet up perfectly required more attention with a palm sander.

Living room Second Pass

The living room had the least amount of problems. The window pictured here is new, the window prior to it had a leak, there was visible water damage done to the floor, several passes later it had been worn out as best as could be hoped for. Either way, way better than the nasty 60’s carpet.

Hallway/ Bedroom

The hallway and bedroom took a lot more sanding than the living room, there had also been issues with the previous bedroom window that requires a new peice of hardwood to be put in, but as the old window was replaced the issue is no longer.

Living Room last pass.

After the 10th pass (which had worked its way up to an 80/100 grit sand paper) the floor was wiped down twice before the varnish could be put on. In order of appearance there were four passes made with 20 grit, three with 36, 2 with 60 and one with the 80 which felt like 100 to me, the floor was smooth as a babies butt by the time it was ready for varnishing.

Into the kitchen.

As you can see we used old sheets tacked over the open door framed to keep the dust down, and a lot of dust there was. Even with the heavy duty dust masks, windows open, and constant bag emptying/sweeping I was producing some scarily colored mucus.

First coat

The varnish took most of a day (waiting two to three hours between coats). The varnish that was chosen was a semi-gloss, low vapor, quick drying, that required no sanding between coats (if you managed to keep the bubbles away and I did).

Living Room Varnish

The second coat of varnish saw the floor really matureing. There are some spots where the age is visible, as well as where the water got in, but it does have that original hardwood feel.

inbetween hours

After three days of solid work I was starting to show the wear and tear of it (note I also have an ear infection). Much sitting around between coats was done (waiting on a fridge). As I haven’t moved anything in there yet there were no chairs or amenities, and given how sore I was and how pained my hands were (they’re swollen quite badly in this picture) I couldn’t knit. I entertained with music and reading.


The baseboards in the bedroom will be next on my list, there’s at least four layers of paint to be taken off (they painted over the original wood baseboards it’s enough to make you cry). That will be accomplished sometime this week hopefully when we add on the baseboards for the hallway and the front room.

Sweet Sweet living room

So after four coats of varnish the floors are done. Now I just need baseboards and heating grates.

In total it cost a little under $210 to get it done (and an assload of hard work), renting the sander, borrowing a belt sander, getting the varnish and the right brushes. After the baseboards and grates are purchased I think it will be a solid $250 spent. Now…. I haven’t been able to knit since thursday so I’m going to go do some of that before I loose my mind.


About sadieruin

Sadie is an intrepid fibre-file who can be found knitting, spinning, dying, or designing knit patterns when she's not at work. Her sock pattern "Mermaid's Lagoon" can be found in the Summer '09 issue of Be sure to keep up with her knitting, spinning, dyeing (and occasionally weaving) exploits here.

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