I was reading Making a House a Home's blog today about the estimate they got for refinishing their wood floors and I decided to post our experience with this topic. I have encountered many people who say floor refinishing should be left to professionals. But when we got the estimate for our 10' x 11' kitchen for $1200.00, we decided that we'd try it ourselves. I am not going to debate whether that was right or wrong, but as many of you know budget has a powerful effect on what one might think they are capable of doing.
Steve did research on the Wood Flooring Association's website. He learned a number of things about how the job should be done. He also learned that many floors can be screened rather than sanded as long as they aren't heavily damaged. Every floor has about 3-4 sandings in it's lifetime, so it's worth it to sand conservatively and maintain your floors finish so they don't have to be re-sanded too often.
Here is what we ended up doing:
We rented U-Sand machine and an edger from our local hardware store. The U-Sand has 4 orbital disks on it and we started with approximately 20 grit and gradually went up to about 120. The benefit of the U-Sand as opposed to the drum sander is that it stays level-
you CANNOT gouge your floor with it-period.
The edger was another story, the thing kind of had a life of it's own -a powerful little machine and we had to be careful and most important: keep it level to avoid scrapes or gouges. Our floor had stain on it and we had no issues with burning as was mentioned in some comments on Making a House a Home's blog.
The floors came out pretty darn good I have to say. The only thing is we could have sanded it for longer to even out a few waves in the floor and we ended up with a few scrapes but they are not noticeable.
Here's the finished floor
One thing to note about this task is that you will have to fill all the cracks between the boards and holes with wood putty orsomething similar. Otherwise dirt will collect there. One thing I'd do differently next time is use maple wood filler for filling the cracks. We used wood putty and the match isn't as nice as it could be.
Here's a close up shot
Another thing to consider is the kind of finish you use. Most refinishers use water based finishes nowadays, which are much less toxic but not as strong as the old stuff. We used an industrial grade water based finish that we purchased from Woodworker's Supply. It was around $50.00 per gallon and we used 2 Gallons.
A Long View
To give you a time frame, it took us about 13 hours to fill the cracks and sand clean a 10' x 11' room- it was a long day. We had no idea it would take that long. It cost us about $400 between the tool rentals and sandpaper(we used alot of course) but that was less than the $1200 that we were quoted for that room alone.
We are planning to test out our floor refinishing skills on the den in the Fall if we gut the room as planned. I just thought I'd share our experience and hopefully it helps someone else out!