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Bringing out the Beauty of Wood Floors

Helpful Tips When Resurfacing Wood Floors

Can you DIY your old wood floor?

My husband and I married in 1969. My husband was 22 years old, and I was 21 years old. We were very young and inexperienced in most everything, including remodeling of our first home.

Because we were newly married, we did not have the money to pay for any outside help when it came to home projects. We felt that most of our plans could be DIY projects, thus saving us a ton of money, we did not have to hire outside help. 

Patience is a virtue when you take on any DIY project, first tip.

Our experiences are mostly humorous now that a substantial amount of time has passed. We can now laugh at these remodeling mistakes as we share them with friends and family.

I have some situations where we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we could do the project ourselves. The first story is my story, and a big mistake.

My Visions for the Future

This picture is as close as I can get to my visions 

For my future bedroom, after I resurfaced the floors.

Surrounded by a Dust Bowl

I wanted hardwood floors in one of the bedrooms of our first home. I tore back the rug to look at what was underneath the carpeting and viewed great hardwood floors, but the wood needed sanding, cleaning, and varnishing with a hard lacquer. 

My hubby tore out the rug for me and then announced, "You are on your own. I am working too much right now to help you."

I might add there was nothing wrong with the carpet; I just wanted a wood floor. I planned to sand, varnish, and apply a coat or two of hard lacquer finish, preventing scratching of the wood. I knew that I could bring back the beauty of this wood floor. I was working full-time as a nurse, so I picked one of my off days to get this job done, and done right.

First Step-Rent a Sander

When I got out of work, I visited the rental store to rent a floor sander to use the next day for my DIY project. I also bought a large can of maple stain and a large can of varnish, complete with all of the needed brushes and rags. I cleared out the bedroom to get ready to sand the floors the next morning. 

The next day, bright and early, I plugged in the sander. I did not read the directions—after all who needs directions just to tell them how to push an on and off button?

I started to sand the floor and it was going well for the first few minutes and then all of a sudden a cloud of dust arose and my visibility was zero. I could not breathe. I am asthmatic, so I immediately turned off the machine, grabbed my inhaler while gasping for a breath, and headed outside. 

My inhaler stopped the immense wheezing and I could take a deep breath of fresh air. "What in the heck happened?" When I felt better in a few minutes, I tied a scarf around my face and headed back to the bedroom and shut the door. I opened up the window wide and started my floor fan to help move the dust cloud outside. 

I took up the instruction book and found I had attached the dust bag wrong, my mistake. It won't happen again.

The rest of the sanding went without any problem and in a few hours, I was ready to stain the floor.

Staining 101

I scrubbed my floor well with a mild detergent, let it dry with the fan, while I READ the staining directions. This was going to be the easiest step.

The stain went on well and my floor was looking really nice. As I was getting to the end of my staining I looked up and had stained myself into the far corner! I looked in the back of me and I could not walk on the floor as the stain was not dry. I had just enough area left to stand up and assess my situation. I shook my head thinking, Oh my gosh, how can I be so stupid?

I was mad at myself for being so darn careless. The fan was within my distance so I reached up to the window and turned on the fan to help this "quick drying" stain, dry faster if that was possible.

The fan did help and the stain was dry in 30-minutes. Standing in the corner gave me time to think that perhaps DIY projects such as these were not my niche. At any rate, it was too late to turn back. All I could do was apply the varnish; the last step. All I could do was hope for the best.

Varnishing 101

I read the directions on the lacquer can and proceeded to slowly and meticulously spread the varnish over my wood floor, a small area at a time. This time I was not going to trap myself in a corner.

This step takes a while to complete, but as I neared the door and then on my knees out into the hall I was so elated as to how this floor looked. My floor was beautiful and so much more attractive than carpeting. I was satisfied with a job well-done. I was going to have a very attractive wood floor. 


I slowly stood up and turned to look at my perfect job. "Oh my, this floor turned out as though a professional had done the job." I was so proud of myself, and then I saw it!

Not sitting two feet into the room on my wet floor was a bit of lint. I felt my eyes getting a big as the saucers in my kitchen. "What is this and where did this come from?"

If something is not right, I need to fix it. I need all my ducks in a perfect row, and I needed to remove this piece of lint because it should not be there. I could not allow the varnish to dry this lint into my floor. The lint was so small, I know no one would have noticed, except for me and that was enough to do something about this issue.

I got down on the floor on my knees, and I knew beyond a doubt that if I tightly held the doorknob (the only possible thing in sight) with one hand to steady myself, I could reach forward and grab that piece of lint in no time.

As I put my plan into action, the door slammed into the wall, sending my body falling forward, face first onto the wet lacquer. After the shock wore off and I realized what I had done, my heart sank.

I knew I had made a mistake and a disaster out of my floor. As I tried to get up and steady myself, I saw the lint on my sweatshirt outlined on the floor in the wet lacquer. I was sick at heart.

Hubby's Easy, Simple Solution

"Oh, my goodness, now what?" I was able to stand up just outside the door and wondered how I was going to tell my new husband what happened.

Maybe he would not notice the outline of my shirt on the floor. There laid a perfect shirt-shape on the floor, lint outlined my fuzzy sweatshirt in the varnish.

When hubby got home, he asked me how the floor was coming along and went immediately to the bedroom to see for himself. He stood there for a minute and said, "Well, nice job, but what is that shirt outline on the floor?"

I told my husband what happened with all the nasty details and that I would start the job over again in the morning, but he insisted we buy new carpeting for the room and let well enough alone.

I bought new carpeting and had it professionally installed. My husband claimed that he never wanted to see me refinish a floor again, thus, this ended my sanding career.

Helpful Hints

  • The best advice that I can offer anyone who is tackling a remodeling project is to talk with seasoned decorators and gather all the information and advice possible.
  • If needed, get others to help with the project if it is a big project such as refinishing a wood floor.
  • I cannot stress to anyone enough to read the directions carefully for safety and job success.

No matter how quickly you want to finish your project, have patience and know that, "Haste makes Waste."


Personal Experience

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Bringing out the Beauty of Wood Floors
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