dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
7885
share rss forum feed

TheSMJ

join:2009-08-19
Farmington, MI

Sanding/refinishing oak floor a DIY job?

One of the eleventy-billion things my house needs is restoration of its original oak hardwood floors. All that's wrong with the floors (aside from very, very light scratches in some areas) is that the finish has worn off over the past ~50 years.

Eventually I'd like to have the floors sanded and refinished. The problem is I've never done such a thing, and neither has anyone else I know. I've done some reading and the process sounds simple enough if you use an orbital sander and lots of patience, but if the risk of ruining the floor is really high I'd rather hire a professional.

So, is this a DIY job, or should I pay someone a few grand to fix my floors?



Crash Gordon
Drive It Like You Stole It

join:2004-06-08
Smyrna, GA

I like to DIY stuff, but for some things it's better to pay a pro. I'd say this is one of those situations.

Usually a drum sander is used for the larger areas and a smaller orbital for where the drum can't get. Yeah, you can rent drum sanders, but it doesn't take much to ruin your floors. If you're only doing a 3x5' area, a orbital might be fine. For anything larger you'll need a drum sander (unless you plan on making it a lifelong project).


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to TheSMJ

I have refinished a couple of thousand feet of oak in houses the age of yours. Could you post a few pics showing the condition of the floors and what the finish currently looks like both good and bad areas?



LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to TheSMJ

A drum sander isn't very forgiving, and takes a practiced hand...

That said, if the floors aren't totally trashed, it may not need to get that drastic... If its mostly wear and scuffing, a refinishing kit may freshen it up enough.

If it needs more then that, I've had good luck with the random vibrating sanders, that use the large square sanding pads. I did about 750 sq ft of oak parquet at my last house, and it turned out very well.

Edit - refinish, not relish... Damn ipad autocorrect... Something like this:

»www.rustoleum.com/cbgproduct.asp?pid=67



Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·Cogeco Cable

said by LazMan:

a relishing kit

A polishing kit?
--
The talented hawk speaks French.


Crash Gordon
Drive It Like You Stole It

join:2004-06-08
Smyrna, GA
reply to LazMan

Yeah, I was looking at worst case. but to sand 1000SqFt or more....with a orbital sander. I'd rather pay a grand and be walking on it a week later.

If you really need to break out the sander (of any kind) practice in a closet or other hidden spot first.


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

Have you ever tried to do this?



Crash Gordon
Drive It Like You Stole It

join:2004-06-08
Smyrna, GA

That a trick question?


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

No -- have you ever refinished 1000 or more sq ft of oak sanding with either an orbital or drum sander? Simple question



Crash Gordon
Drive It Like You Stole It

join:2004-06-08
Smyrna, GA

Your question was answered in the OP's first post though, had you read it: "The problem is I've never done such a thing, and neither has anyone else I know."

yes I have installed many thousand sqft hardwood floors and also finished them (including drum sanding). but I'm also not the OP. Thanks for asking.


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

I did read the OP's post. My question was to you. Evidently you have never refinished 50 year old floors.


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to TheSMJ

said by TheSMJ:

All that's wrong with the floors (aside from very, very light scratches in some areas) is that the finish has worn off over the past ~50 years.

If the floors are in as good of shape as you have indicated they may not need to be sanded down to bare wood. Pics would really help. Also an indication of what you want the floors to look like. Would you be happy if they were rejuvenated so that they have the old look and coloration but without the worn areas?


Ken
Premium,MVM
join:2003-06-16
Markle, IN
reply to TheSMJ

I think there is some confusion here on using an orbital sander to do the entire job. There are 2 main types of sanders that rental places carry. The first is the drum sander which has been around forever. You can very quickly get yourself in trouble with a drum sander if you don't know what you are doing. The drum sander can't reach against the wall so you have to use a small orbital sander to get in the tight areas. Nobody would ever use this small orbital sander to do 1000+ sq. ft.




The second type of sander is a large orbital sander. It has either 3 or 4 pads underneath. It is made to do the entire job itself without needing a drum sander or the small orbital sander. FYI though the large orbital unit can't get under kitchen or bathroom cabinet toe kicks, you still need the small orbital sander for those areas. The large orbital unit is quite a bit slower than a drum sander, but it's almost impossible for a novice to sand away too much with one of these units even when using an aggressive grit. It's very DIY friendly.

3 pad unit

4 pad unit

TheSMJ

join:2009-08-19
Farmington, MI
reply to TheSMJ

I'll get photos of the floor(s) in question tonight after I get my hands on a better camera + while sunlight is still in the room. I tried taking them with my cell phone last night and it was nearly impossible to tell a shadow from discoloration.

The floors I'm referring to are in 3 bedrooms, a hallway which is currently still covered in carpet and a walk-in linen closet. Once the movers are finished I'll remove the carpet in the hallway and get a better idea of what shape that floor is in, but right now it appears as if the only problem areas are in the master bedroom, which is where I suspect most of the foot traffic has been in the past 30 years.

Having looked at it again last night, it might not need to be sanded/refinished as much as it needs to be cleaned in some way. High-traffic areas like right in front of the master bathroom door are very dark. Much darker and dirtier than areas like corners where furnature used to be. Almost like the floor was scuffed.

I'll try to get those photos tonight and post them tomorrow morning. I'd love to post them tonight but I don't have Internet access at the house yet, and my cell phone's reception is kinda "meh".



LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to Ken

There's another option, that's become quite common at big-box and DIY rentals places, as well...

It's the large pad sander




This is the style I used (along with a handheld oribital) to redo the floor at my last place...

Also very DIY friendly.


Ken
Premium,MVM
join:2003-06-16
Markle, IN

Interesting, I've never seen one like that.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to TheSMJ

It depends on many things like how much floor do you need to do, how quickly do you need it, how bad the floor, etc.

I've done a room with a 3x18 belt sander and a Makita 1/4 sheet sander. A couple of years later, I also had a 4x24 belt sander in addition for the above for another room.

I've found that coating requires more skill than sanding -- I can just do the sanding slowly and carefully, and that's all that needed.
--
Wacky Races 2012!



cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27
reply to TheSMJ

Well..
IMHO..I prefer to DIY but when I had my floors done, there was no Big Box rental of a full sheet sander. They only rented drum models. And the horrors I saw of a drum sander to a perfectly good floor...

I paid a pro $3/sqft to sand floor and edges once, first coat of satin oil-based urethane, screen, 2nd coat and screen, 3rd coat.
Been 10 years now and looks like new. Did have to have windows open during finish coats, but totally worth the result.

Figure out how many sqft you have, then call some pro's. Get estimates. I recommend the oil-based urethane over water. You decide if you want glossy (shiney) or satin.
--
Splat



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to TheSMJ

Personally, I would pay to get it done if it's for the whole house.
A DIY job would take time, many days of rental, and constantly living in dust throughout the whole ordeal (Would be useless to start cleaning while the project isn't finished).

It's a messy, noisy, annoying job.

BUT it is a DIYabled job.


bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to TheSMJ

I have friends who did floors DIY. It was more than they bargained for. The power in their house was not adequate to support the sander (belt types) so they had to make special arrangements to get power to it. They also damaged a good bit of flooring learning to run the sander. It is doable, but it is one of those jobs that may be better contracted out.



Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·Cogeco Cable
reply to TheSMJ

I did my parents floor while in my teens using a drum sander.
I've always been handy with wood though.

It went surprisingly smooth.

The Varathane we used was miles better than whatever was put on the floors when the house was built. It still looks good 20+ years and a Golden Retriever later.
--
The talented hawk speaks French.


robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to Ken

said by Ken:

I think there is some confusion here on using an orbital sander to do the entire job.

I think your post is a great place to begin a real discussion of what is involved. I want to start by listing the different sanders which can be used for floors and their abilities and liabilities.

1) Professional Edging Sander -- this is not an orbital sander, it is a disc sander. Disc sanders in general are only useful for rough work. One of the main problems is that no matter which direction you go with it you cannot control it to the extent that you can sand with the grain. As this sander is used with course grits of sandpaper it can gouge and create damage in inexperienced hands. Even in professional hands, there will be some gouging and cross grain scratches visible under close examination.

2) Drum Sander -- Main tool of the "professional" flooring installer / re-finisher. Main tool for one reason -- it removes a lot of wood very fast. Drum sanders gouge very easily and create an uneven surface even in professional hands. They are great for evening out a surface but are not a finishing tool and should not be considered as one. Must only be used with the grain. It is surprising how much wood is removed in a short period of time with this tool. It is equally surprising how few times a floor can be re-finished when sanded by this tool due to the massive amount of wood removed during sanding.

3) Belt Sander -- I'm not sure if there are any large, floor type of belt sanders around but they would be more controllable than a drum sander if there are any. Still fairly aggressive and must be used only with the grain.

4) Orbital Sander -- The Square-Buff sander posted by another member is an orbital sander. Orbital sanders can have either round or square pads. The sanding pad moves in a small, orbital motion. Even on the large floor sanders, this orbital motion is only about 3/8" in diameter. While this sander is quite un-aggressive, it is also quite slow to strip a floor down to bare wood with. On the other hand, there is no gouging and if you run this machine over a floor sanded by a "professional" using a traditional drum and edging sander, you will discover just how uneven they left your floor. This is a great tool to use for screening a finished floor prior to adding another coat of finish. You can use sanding screen with it (available in many grits -- same type of screen used for drywall sanding).

5) Random Orbital Sander -- This is the type of sander most of us have now in our small tools drawer. It is also one of the best floor sanders for the DYI floor re-finisher. While I'm not sure if the three and four pad sanders which Ken See Profile posted pics of are of this type, there is one I can vouch for. It is the Varathane ezV sander. This sander has three 8"disks with two rotating in one direction and one in the other. These disks are mounted on a larger rotating disk which rotates slowly. The result of the dual rotation motions is a random orbit. This type of sander is extremely forgiving and will not scratch or gouge the floor. At the same time, it is more aggressive than the orbital sander. The ezV is also quiet and has a very good dust pickup system resulting is a pleasant experience for the operator and only minor dust in the house.

Choosing the right tool for the job is very important. Knowing it's strengths and weaknesses even more so. This post doesn't really address the needs of the OP but it seemed a good time to discuss the various options available for use when refinishing a wood floor.


AMDUSER
Premium
join:2003-05-28
Earth,
kudos:1
reply to Ken

I've seen that at Home Depot.. those do create quite a bit of sawdust. [I know from helping someone refinsh their living room floor.]


TheSMJ

join:2009-08-19
Farmington, MI
reply to TheSMJ

Click for full size
Click for full size
Finally got some pics up of what I'm talking about.

In front of both the master bathroom (first pic) and entrance to the bedroom (second pic) you can see how the wood is much darker than the area to the immediate left/right of the doorway. The discoloration is much darker than how it looks in the pics, but you can still get the idea of what I'm talking about. It looks as though the stain was worn off and the wood was dirtied from lots of foot traffic.

I also noticed some gaps a little wider than the thickness of a dime between a couple of the boards as well, but they'll be covered by a bed so I'm not too worried about it.

Will this require refinishing, or can all of this be cleaned off somehow?

There are also small holes in the floor from where the carpet tack strips were nailed in, and a couple of ~1/4" holes drilled by a cable TV installer when he ran the coax up from the family room ceiling below (I'm guessing because doing a good job and going through the walls would have taken longer than 2 minutes). I'd like to think I could use wood putty to fill the holes, but I doubt they'd look right after staining. I'm not that worried about the holes, but if there was a way I could fill them in without replacing the boards I'd love to hear it.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada

Could fill the 1/4" holes with hard-wood dowel - I think that much putty would be far too obvious, myself.

The tack-strips, either putty, or just leave them. I'd be tempted to do the later... Trying to fill and match, could easily make them MORE visible, rather then less.

As for the discolouration - I'm going to say (and I'm a phone guy by trade, not a flooring guy, so take it with the appropriate grain of salt) - that the dirt and staining is pretty ground into the finish, and sanding/refinishing is the way to go. The boards look to be in good shape, it's just the finish that's wore out.

Try a good cleaner (murphy's oil soap) and some elbow grease, but if that doesn't do it, you're probably looking at a strip and re-finish.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to TheSMJ

These floors are not *that* bad. Personally, I'd just do it with the sanders I have. I'd fill the holes with wood fillers.
--
Wacky Races 2012!



cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT

1 recommendation

reply to TheSMJ

Whether it's a DIY job or not depends on the state of the floor, the area and the amount of time you have.
If the floors are old and uneven you'll have to do multiple passes, rental tools are totally underpowered.
It's a messy job too. There *will* be sawdust everywhere unless you seal the room and create negative pressure.
Then there is the smell. You won't be able to live in your house for 1 week, assuming you manage to coat all the surface in 1 day and do the buffing passes in 1 day, then re-coat the same day.
Yes there is water-based polyurethane that doesn't smell so bad, but it doesn't last nearly as long, so unless you want to repeat the job in 5 years stick with oil-based.

I've done hardwood floors in my house as DIY. After doing 2 rooms (that's how much I could sand in 1 day due to uneven floors) I decided that between the multiple rentals it was easier to just hire a company. The results weren't as good as mine, but they were done in 1 week. They used much more powerful tools which were cleaning the floor in 1-2 quick passes vs 5-6 for the rental tool. But again, my floors were uneven, on even floors you may have better luck...



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

said by cowboyro:

Then there is the smell. You won't be able to live in your house for 1 week, assuming you manage to coat all the surface in 1 day and do the buffing passes in 1 day, then re-coat the same day.

If you only do rooms you can just open the windows, close the door, and optionally, seal it with some tape, and the smell shouldn't be a big deal. Been there, done that.
--
Wacky Races 2012!

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
reply to TheSMJ

All in all it sounds like tons of fun!


Badonkadonk
Premium
join:2000-12-17
Naperville, IL
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Dish Network
reply to aurgathor

said by aurgathor:

said by cowboyro:

Then there is the smell. You won't be able to live in your house for 1 week, assuming you manage to coat all the surface in 1 day and do the buffing passes in 1 day, then re-coat the same day.

If you only do rooms you can just open the windows, close the door, and optionally, seal it with some tape, and the smell shouldn't be a big deal. Been there, done that.

Use water based poly, e.g. Bona Traffic, and it has almost no smell and dries in a few hours.
--
"You lie!" Talk about an understatement, Joe.