Sanding Hardwood Floors – The Fiasco
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Happy Wednesday folks!! How was your labor day weekend? Most people I know were spending theirs working. Hmmm – that’s an oxymoron. But there were also lots of people DIYing and working around the house – which to some people is still work (I find both to be fun to an extent!)
Our labor day weekend started with me and the Mister – all wide eyed and bushy tailed – ready to tackle our hardwood floor refinishing project, the first part anyway.
Actually I take that back. We weren’t ready, like at all. We still had staples in the floor, carpet backing to rip up, and SHIT everywhere (like a stove in the living room, a rocking chair in the office and a 5’x7′ old wooden window in the dining room – like whyyyyy?)
But when we called around for sander rental prices a guy from a local rental place mentioned the fact that if we rented labor day weekend, it wouldn’t need to be returned until Tuesday morning, and since they aren’t open on weekends (ever) we’d get to keep the sander for three FULL days for the price of one. We were sold and decided to commit to a long weekend of sanding our hardwood floors to prep them for stain.
Well… I’ll spoil the ending. Today is Wednesday and the floors aren’t done! But I give us credit for getting done what we did because we ran into problem after problem after problem.
And don’t get me wrong… we sanded over 1,100 square feet of hardwood floors AND an entire porch (with 743 layers of paint) in 4 days. Even with problem after problem after problem. So I’m happy about that.
But had this floor been a little easier to sand, and had we rented the right sander and had we prepped the house for sanding, we definitely wouldn’t be in the boat of still having to finishing sanding the floors 5 days after we rented our original sander.
And we aren’t newbies at doing floors either! Mr. Stone Head has refinished plenty of floors in his remodeling business over the years, and we refinished the hardwood floors in our first flip – which was easy peasy compared to this house.
Sanding Hardwood Floors Problem #1
We weren’t ready to sand our hardwood floors.
Which isn’t a problem more so an error on our part. But it continued to slow us down all throughout the four days because we’d keep finding things we forgot to prep. I ran into a couple staples, the Mister ran into a few small nails and I found tack strips and transition strips that still needed to be removed.
We also still had a few pieces of quarter round down, the floor vents weren’t taken out and phone jacks were hanging all over the place (which was really annoying to work around and I didn’t think of it until after the fact that I should have just taped them to the wall… duh!)
Sanding Hardwood Floors Problem #2
We rented the wrong sander.
We spent 11 hours at our fixer upper on Saturday with our newly rented “u-sander” only to wind up renting a drum sander from Home Depot and basically starting over on Sunday.
All 11 hours wasn’t spent sanding, it was dealing with a few of the things mentioned above as well… but the sanding wasn’t going well either. It seemed as though we weren’t eating through the wood fast enough and we discovered that our boards were more than “just a little uneven” – they were CUPPED, bowed, beveled and a few even had old termite damage (we’ll call that character and then cover that character up with a throw rug!)
So Sunday we made the decision (only after 4 more hours of sanding with our U sander) to go and rent a drum sander from Home Depot to help get the floors flatter. And I’ll tell you what… the guys that helped us at Home Depot were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable – basically, we should have never rented a u-sander because it’s not aggressive enough for hardwood floors that aren’t perfectly flat.
Sanding Hardwood Floors Problem #3
When sanding the edges our pads gummed up – bad!
After tons of money in sandpaper, we found out the edges of the floors in a few rooms originally had a shellac finish, topped with a wax – and then a future homeowner also applied stain and some type of polyurethane on top of all that! No wonder the sanding pads for the edger we rented got gummed up in a matter of 4 linear feet!
I wasn’t the one edging, the mister was, and he was fuming mad about wasting all those sand paper pads! But we got three rooms totally done and currently just have three more to go! When we returned our sanders both places recommended we try a belt sander on the tough areas first and then rent the edger again. Apparently the edger isn’t powerful enough to cut through shellac, wax, stain and poly!
My friend over at Londage At Home, gave the suggestion of stripping the edging which I think would have work had we not found out it’s more than just shellac on the floor! I’m not sure how stripping wax would go?
The bottom line is we used up all our rough grit sandpaper for the edger (because the local rental shop told us there was no way we’d need more than what we had bought) but the upside was that since we had two floor sanders, after we did a few passes with the drum sander, we were able to get both sanders going at once – which made things go super quick in the house! So quick in fact, that I thought I had time to sand down our front porch before our rental was due back.
Sanding Hardwood Floors Problem #4
The porch had 743 layers of paint AND was cupped.
The only upside to not being able to finish the edging was that I was able to get the porch sanded. The Home Depot rental guys told us we could only use the drum sander outside if the porch wasn’t face nailed – if it was face nailed we’d have to rent a THIRD sander that is specially made for sanding porches and decks. But after some careful inspection (which meant scraping away said 743 layers of paint to try and see down to where nail heads would be) we came to the conclusion that the porch is tongue and groove and could be sanded! And we were right.
Monday night I started sanding down the porch and the 24 grit paper seemed to be eating through the layers of paint! It was awesome! But my excitedness wore off by 11am the next morning because I was still using the 24 grit sandpaper and STILL NOT THROUGH the 743 layers of paint. I also had to let the drum sander sit for over an hour around that time because it was beginning to get so hot that it was melting the paint which was getting stuck to my sandpaper!!
I was starting to get discouraged because the sander was technically due back at 2pm and I KNEW I wasn’t going to be done. So we wound up having to pay for a few extra hours because we didn’t get it back until 5pm (ON THE DOT.) But the porch looks fabulous and I can’t wait to show you the results after I finish edging it, staining it and sealing it (oh my that’s a lot of work still ahead of me.)
Sanding Hardwood Floors Problem #5
Sandpaper pads for the edger ripped.
Something else that was also a nuisance (but we wound up getting credited for them) was that the sandpaper pads for the edger broke apart! It happened three times while Mr. Stone Head was trying to use the finishing sandpaper in one of the rooms. The sandpaper literally tore off the center support and became unusable within 5 minutes of changing it.
After looking at the sandpaper at Home Depot for the edger we decided that when we have to rent the edger again, we’re going to rent it from there. Their sand paper circles look beefier and sturdier than the ones we got and they are Diablo brand – which is a really great brand of sand paper in my opinion.
So there you have it. All those issues have now turned what was supposed to be a 3 day sanding project into an almost week long project! And we still have to stain and poly the floors. We’re thinking of holding off on staining and poly-ing until after the place is painted – which we really should have gotten to first, but like I said, we were not prepared to do our floors – in the slightest.
But here’s a picture of our almost finished living room floor! Why do you think that square in the center didn’t sand off? I’m thinking it was a different type of stain or oil that penetrated deep into the wood and can’t be sanded out – just something I found while researching. But what’s your opinion?
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