Wood Floor Refinishing

Old squeaky wood floors have so much character. I think they are perfect in old houses.

So when we viewed the house before buying it I was determined to figure out if it had wood floors. Unfortunately the carpet and vinyl flooring were installed so well that I couldn’t even get a peek. So I left it alone, since we had no idea if they would accept our offer or not.

After our offer was excepted and just a few days before closing I decided that I just had to know if the house was coming with wood flooring or not, I needed to figure out if flooring had to be added to my remodeling budget. So one day when we went over there to take some measurements I asked my husband to go ahead and pull hard on that carpet so we could see. Surprised we found wood in at least the living room and the master bedroom. We weren’t sure if the kitchen and my girls room had it, but at least there was hope.

On demo day we found that all the rooms had wood floors. The kitchen and my girls room had fir floors that had never been finished at all. The living room had oak flooring with a large patch of what looked like cedar in the middle. The master bedroom had fir that had been finished to look like the oak in the living room.

The first thing that needed to be done to all the rooms was to pull the staples out and the tack strip up. Next, I needed to sand them down to see how they looked. I rented an orbital square sander from United Rentals. I really liked this sander, it was easy for me to use once my husband got it into the house. I knew that I didn’t want to use a drum sander, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control it and would end up digging spots into the floor.


The master bedroom after sanding.


The view from the living room looking across into the master bedroom.

When I got done sanding the floors looked really pretty, but because I didn’t use a drum sander I couldn’t really get the floors old stain completely out of the cracks, so it still looked kind of streaky. I would recommend a drum sander if you think you can control it, because I think it digs deeper, and would produce a cleaner looking floor.

Once smooth I needed to fill the cracks in the floor. So I took the sanding dust that I swept up off the floor and mixed it with Elmer’s Wood Glue Max.














I’m not sure if the Elmer’s Wood Glue Max or just plain Elmer’s White Glue would have been the best choice. I was in a hurry at the store and I should have asked, but instead I just grabbed the Wood Glue Max, because it said it was stainable.

I found that the best way to mix up the glue and sanding dust was to put about 1/4th of the bottle of glue in a mud pan and then slowly mix in the sanding dust. Start with about 1/4 a cup of dust and then just add slowly from there. I added dust until the glue was fairly thick, but not to pasty that I couldn’t stir it or spread it evenly. I wanted to make sure there was quite a lot of dust though, because I knew that would be the best way to make the patched spots look the most like the color of the wood.

Don’t mix too much glue at once, because it starts to dry out on you and is then unusable and such a waste.

When I first started to apply the wood filler I thought I’d do every staple hole and crack, because I always want to do the best I can, but it became very time-consuming and hard so I just went for the staple holes and the large cracks that I could see from standing back.

Two coats of filler is what I had to do, because it would sink down into the holes and need to be topped off. This took me many evenings, and was not very fun.

Once done filling all the holes that I was going to I decided that I was going to rent the sander again, because there were way to many spots to sand by hand. United Rentals didn’t have any sanders available on the day I was ready to sand so this time I rented a triangle-shaped orbit floor sander from The Home Depot. Both of the sanders were easy for me to use and seemed to dig into the wood about the same amount.

After sanding the floors for the second time it was time to stain them.


I chose a dark stain by Minwax called Jacobean. I got this stain at The Home Depot. I applied it by dipping a rag into the can and then rubbing it on the floor. Then I took another rag and immediately wiped up the excess.

Wood-Floor-Refinishing-7The reason that I chose such a dark stain was because of the three different types of wood flooring the house had. I was afraid that if I chose something lighter that all the woods would show through with a different color tone, like the oak looking yellowish and the cedar showing up to red. I hoped the dark stain would just knock out the woods natural under color tones and leave the floors looking like they were the same throughout.









I did one coat of stain and found that was all I needed. The cracks that were filled with the putty turned out really well.



Wood-Floor-Refinishing-10But any of the spots were I didn’t get all the putty up from around the whole turned out terribly yellow colored. So no matter what take the time to get all the surrounding putty off the wood planks. If your floor has high and low spots you might have to do this with a palm sander. I am thankful that my husband went over the kitchen with a palm sander to make it turn out nicer, but my girls room has some of these yellow spots, because her flooring had quite a bit of damage to them, and we decided to just leave it, because using the palm sander was a lot of work, and we figured that most of the spots would be covered by furniture.

We just say that the yellow adds character, right!


The kitchen after staining, but before the poly coat.

After the stain dried for a full 24 hours, I then applied the polyurethane.


I chose a water based polyurethane so it wouldn’t yellow over time. I also chose a satin finish so that less dirt would show up on the dark floor. I read that if it was glossy it would show dirt so much more, so I went with satin. This polyurethane I bought at Miller Paint. I brushed it on around the edges of the room and then used a flat pad to apply it to the rest of the room. I poured the poly onto the floor and then smeared it around with the pad. This was pretty easy. Just remember to work your way out of the room, or else you may be stuck in the room for a while. I let the first coat dry for 24 hours and then applied a second coat.

Wood-Floor-Refinishing-13I was excited to come home and take pictures of the dried polyurethaned floors for you, but when I arrived home all I got was a sneak preview. My husband came home first and covered them all up with paper to protect them.

He was excited to move us out of the tent since the ants where starting to invade.

So inside we moved after about 2 weeks of sleeping outside.

Since all the walls still need attention we didn’t really move our other stuff into the house and set it up, all we did was move our sleeping mattresses inside.

We are still living like we are camping, but just changing up the view a bit.

Click here to read the next post on our tiny house!

Go to the first tiny house post by clicking here, to read the whole story!

4 Responses to Wood Floor Refinishing

  1. Cobi says:

    The floors are beautiful!!

  2. Trish says: