This is what happens when you DON’T listen to the folks at Lowe’s – Mom in Music City
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This is what happens when you DON’T listen to the folks at Lowe’s

  • March 7, 2015
  • By Sabine
This is what happens when you DON’T listen to the folks at Lowe’s

A little over a year ago, I purchased a home with wall-to-wall, stained and smelly carpeting. Lucky for us, because underneath all this mess was beautiful oak flooring. The wood was in pretty decent shape except for some pet urine stains and scratches. There was also a lot of grime and build-up that needed to be removed.

I researched the heck out of refinishing hardwood floors, talked to a local hardwood floor refinisher, watched lots of tutorials, and then Googled some more. I was ready to tackle the beast. The only thing or person that stopped me from doing so was a sales lady at Lowe’s.

One day I came in to gather my materials and the lady in flooring said “Stay away from the drum sander. It will ruin your floors.”

Back then I was totally new at this whole DIY remodel thing so I ran as fast as I could.

“She works in flooring, she would know,” I told my daughter who ran with me to the nearest exit.

I came back a few days later and bought an orbital sander instead. I figured I could get rid of just a few “nasty” spots in the floor.

We were eager to move in and it worked for us until I needed to tackle some repair on the hardwood flooring in the living room. The previous owners had water damage in a small section of the floor, which they ended up patching  up with a piece of plywood and  carpet.

The carpet needed to go so I bought a new bundle of oak flooring and had a guy feather it in to match the original. One major problem was that the new wood didn’t match the original. Since renting a drum sander was my worst fear, I sanded (with my orbital sander) and stained the new wood pieces the best I could to match the old wood. Of course this didn’t work and it drove me nuts for about a year.

A few days ago I rented a drum sander from Home Depot. The guy at Tool Rental was very helpful. He explained how everything works and shared his own experience with the sander. He mentioned how beautiful his own oak floors are and how much money he was able to save by doing the project himself.

His biggest advice for me: Keep moving and go slow with the sander.

He helped me load the machine in the car and wished me good luck.

I followed his advice and let me tell you, the drum sander is an amazing machine. What really surprised me was the minimal amount of dust. The attached bag really sucks up most of it. It’s the small orbital sander that turns the house into a pure dust zone.

I purchased grit 36, 60, and 80 sand paper. It’s very easy to put on. Just slide it on the big roll.

I also bought ear plugs and mask. The machine is very loud.

Seconds before I turned the machine on for the first time. Do I look confident or terrified? It’s a selfie since no one else was around.

The sander does what it’s  supposed to do – taking it down to bare wood.

This is the same pet urine stain you see in the second photo in the post. This photo was taken after I used 60 grit sand paper. Later, my orbital sander and hydrogen peroxide got rid of most of the stain. You can read more about it here.

I wanted to rent the edge sander but it was out for a week. Instead I used my orbital sander. It worked just fine but produced a lot of dust.

I used Varathane No Odor Floor Finish in Satin.  Satin is great if you just want a light sheen which is what I was going for.  I didn’t want super high glossy floors. Varathane poly is available at Lowe’s but not the Home Depot. See, I have nothing against Lowe’s.

The Varathane dries in less than two hours. I applied four coats; sanded twice between the coats using a 220 grit paper.

I didn’t stain my floors. I think the natural wood goes well with our house. Dark wood is more formal, which our house isn’t. 

After four coats of Verathane. I love all the different color tones.

A different bedroom. Night photo. Sorry.

One more bedroom. This picture was taken late at night after a long day of hard work. The photo quality is not the best.

I also refinished the living room and the hallway.

Here’s the cost break down:

Drum sander rental: $57

Sanding belts: $70 @ $8 each

Varathane: two gallons @ $49 each

Sanding disks for Orbital sander: $20

Varathane applicator, wood filler, ear plugs, plastic to cover up vents, doors, etc.: $15

Total: $260 plus tax

I refinished approx. 650 square feet.

Our local hardwood floor refinishing companies start at $4 per square foot. I am not sure if the rate includes poly.

By doing it myself, I saved over $2,000.

My challenges:

From my experience the hardest part was moving pretty much the entire house into the kitchen and garage. It felt like moving day all over again. And, of course, everything has to go back in. This was quite a task and I am still sore from it. The dust produced by the orbital sander was also unpleasant. I had to wipe down everything including  walls.

The drum sander weighs nearly 100 pounds. I didn’t have a problem taking it out of the car but I couldn’t put it back in the next day. Luckily my friendly neighbor gave me a hand with that.

My verdict: 

Refinishing hardwood floors is A LOT of HARD WORK. It’s doable as long as you don’t mind hard, physical work. Your entire body will be sore for days. I also have very large bruises from moving the furniture. It’s definitely better and easier with two people.

My floors are not perfect, but that’s ok, because I don’t expect them to be. After all, they are 44 years old. I am very happy with how they turned out and I am glad I did it even though I was told I shouldn’t try. Moral of this story – you can do it as long as you work hard and don’t give up. And don’t let anyone tell you, you CAN’T.

P.S. One of my reader’s recently commented:

“Great work on that refinish. But the lady from Lowes wasn’t coompletely off. The rented drum sanders can be a nightmare depending on the abuse they’ve been put through. You got lucky here, but make sure when you rent one of those things that the drum is level and dent free. Otherwise it will destroy your wood floors.”

Very good advice.

By Sabine, March 7, 2015
  • 127
  • Ashley @ 3 Little Greenwoods
    March 12, 2015

    Fabulous job! You are one brave lady for tackling it on your own!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration and for sharing on Show Me Saturday!

    • sabines
      March 13, 2015

      Thanks, Ashley for the sweet and kind words!

      • smartroach
        October 16, 2017

        This was a great and very inspiring article. I have never even seen a floor being refinshed and was debating DIY vs hiring a carpenter. Thanks for sharing!
        Could you share how much time did you spend in this project? How long do the finishes take to dry up?

        • sabines
          October 17, 2017

          Hi! I think I only had three days to finish the project. I did it while my kids were visiting their dad. I worked all day and evening. For me, the hardest part was moving the furniture and other stuff into the kitchen and garage. The varnish is super fast-drying because it’s water based.Hope this helps.

          • Kelly
            December 10, 2017

            Good for you! Your floors look amazing! My partner and I recently refinished all the oak, maple and birch floors in our flip house in Huntsville. SUCH hard work so I feel your pain. But so worth it. We used drum, orbital, and belt sanders, and 5 coats of Tung oil for finishing which works really well, but is a bit smelly. The Tung oil also needs at least a good 12 hours between coats with a fan on it to help dry, otherwise you’ll leave foot prints. I look forward to doing it again. Enjoy your home!

          • sabines
            December 12, 2017

            Kelly, I’ve heard good things about Tang oil but never tried it. I couldn’t agree more, refinishing hardwood floors is such hard, physical work. Good for you and your partner for doing all the work on the floors. I bet they look amazing! Thank you for reading and commenting. I do appreciate it a lot.

    • Mickey
      June 19, 2018

      Lowe’s talked me in to some paint that turned out so bad.

      • sabines
        June 19, 2018

        Ugh!! Sorry to hear.I shop at Lowe’s all the time and don’t have anything against their products. Also, I was very happy with their gutter installation nearly one year ago. I’m just glad I didn’t listen to them when they tried to talk me out of refinishing my floors.

    • jackie rostow
      November 10, 2018

      Cheers! I am very “handy” too. I used to love to do everything on my own. I sanded my own floors some years ago when I bought a new (old) house. This kind of work is not for beginners. There is an art to it. The sander was, indeed, very heavy (maybe too heavy for me) and it takes practice to use it. I understand why professionals make the money they do when I attempt these types of tasks, whether I succeed or not. I am a very good house painter, but as I get older, it’s harder to do. It takes longer. I understand (again) why we pay so much for do-able tasks. I’m at a stage where I want “move in condition.” But, hats off to you. Keep going!! Get everything done before you get too creaky to do it!

      • sabines
        November 11, 2018

        Thank you for the encouraging words. Happy to hear I’m not the only woman out there who takes on crazy projects. So many things I’ve done were not difficult just time consuming. There’s a reason labor is the most expensive part when it comes to professionals.

  • Rachel G
    March 13, 2015

    Your floors look gorgeous to me!! My parents’ home, the one I grew up in, was built in the 1890s, and when they pulled up horribly 1950s-era carpet, they found nice wood floors. We rented a sander like the one you used, and 20 years after we sanded and stained them, they still look gorgeous!

    • sabines
      March 13, 2015

      Thank, Rachel. Your comment is very encouraging. Sanding was a ton of work so I can only hope my floors will still look good 20 years from now.

  • Betty
    March 15, 2015

    Good for you! They look great.

  • Madge
    September 6, 2015

    After 2 weeks of trying different sander including a drum, I gave up on sanding. A friend said I should talk to a local guy who does sandblasting, he came and had a look and said no problem, (there was glue all over from tenants gluing down vinyl, before I bought the house. keep in mind, I hadn’t moved in yet, 2 guys showed up, they were done in an hour, dust everywhere, black sand everywhere, but the floors came out beautiful, I used 4 gallons of Varathane for floors, the open grain just sucked it in. I should mention the floors were Hemlock, not a hardwood. the blasting cost me 2 cases of beer 🙂

    • sabines
      September 7, 2015

      I wish I knew someone who could sand down floors for me for two cases of beer. 🙂

    • Michelle
      March 8, 2017

      Sounds like the price of my ceilings being finished with double-ring quilt design. Cost 1/2 quart of moonshine. Love my ceilings.
      Also, I’m in the process of ripping out old carpet & doing my floors. Thanks for the information

      • sabines
        March 8, 2017

        That’s awesome. Good luck with your floors and thanks for reading.

  • Mary
    February 2, 2016

    You did a beautiful job!! Wish I had been that brave. I hired mine done and am not really pleased with the results.

    • sabines
      February 2, 2016

      Thank you, Mary. It’s not that I am brave, if I want to get things done, I have to do them myself. I don’t have the money to pay people for labor.So you get creative and think outside the box.

      So sorry to hear you weren’t happy with the results. That’s the thing I fear; Paying someone tons of money and not even liking the end result.

  • Paul
    March 28, 2016

    Great post — really appreciated it as i am about to do 700 sq and dont want to pay someone $4,000.

    i noticed you did not apply any fill — and this was older wood??
    thanks for the response in advance adn the pictures.

    also i too have been told to stay away from the drum, while the orbital does not do the job. Those of us who have done many jobs realize that many, not all, of the CSRs at the home improvement store are not as informed as they appear to be.

    • sabines
      March 28, 2016

      Thanks for the comment, Paul. I’m glad I didn’t listen to Lowes and went ahead with the drum sander. It’s mind blowing how much money you save with DIY. Good luck with your project. I bet it’s going to turn out awesome!

    • SRB
      August 15, 2017

      Our experience renting from Home Depot is that they will rent out machines that desperately need servicing. Play dumb and have them show you EVERYTHING about the machine you plan to rent. If we had done that we would have both seen that it needed repairs. Fortunately they gave us back our rental fee!

      • sabines
        August 16, 2017

        Interesting. The only two things I’ve ever rented from Home Depot were the sander and a Penske moving truck. I had good experience with both. Sorry it didn’t work out for you but I’m glad you got your money back.

    • Mark DeRoncey
      April 26, 2021

      What part of the country are you that it is that expensive to refinish wood floors? I am in Dallas and as a contractor pay $2.65 sf for regular refinish and .50 more for hand scraped. Here you can hire small floor companies directly for the same thing I pay. I am just over $4 with a 30% markup and that includes moving and resetting furniture.

  • Amber S
    April 25, 2016

    Awesome tutorial! This is really going to help me out, plus, you got right to the point. A lot of blogs lose focus on what they are actually explaining. Lol!

    • sabines
      April 25, 2016

      Thank you, Amber. I’m so glad my tutorial is helping. Good luck with your project!

  • Brad Weaver
    June 14, 2016

    This is the kind of floors some only dream of. Excellent work

    • sabines
      June 14, 2016

      Awww… thank you, Brad. Your comment just made my day. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day.

  • Rose
    July 11, 2016

    Wonderfully informative post, and I love that you didn’t use a stain!

    I’m curious how long it took to finish this project (after you got the drum sander)? Unfortunately I have carpet to rip up and who knows what I’ll have to fix/patch underneath, but I’d like to think I can complete this in about a week? Would love your insight!

    • sabines
      July 11, 2016

      Hi Rose. Thank you for your kind words. I think I spent three full days on the floors. I picked a time when my kids were visiting with their dad so I could have the house to myself.I worked nonstop and very hard. I’d say the hardest part was moving everything into the kitchen and garage. Applying poly was probably the easiest part but waiting between coats was annoying. I went on lots of walks haha. When I first bought the house, I got rid of all the stinky carpeting. Removing the staples took forever. I also had to get rid of old, dark pet stains. Btw. Hydrogen Perixode really helps with those. Anyway, I’m glad it’s done and very happy with the results. How much sq footage do you need to do? One week should be enough time as long as you don’t have a huge home. Having a helper doesn’t hurt either. Good luck with your project. I’d love to hear how it turns out and thank you so much for reading. 🙂

      • Janet
        August 9, 2017

        The floors look amazing! I’m in the process of refinishing my living room , hall and 1 bedroom. I have pet stains and slight water damage to deal with. Did you use straight Hydrogen Peroxide? At what point did you treat them and how? Thanks!

        • sabines
          August 9, 2017

          Thank you, Janet. I used the the heavy floor sander first. Some smaller pet stains came out right a way, the darker ones needed more work. I treated them with hydrogen peroxide (the standard kind you find at Walmart or Dollar Tree). I soaked a rag with the peroxide (undiluted) and placed it over the stain. I covered the rag with some Saran wrap. This kept the peroxide from drying out. Because the stain was pretty bad, the rag stayed there over night.For smaller stains, a couple of hours can be enough. Check on it every so often. This method really works. My floors are light and yet you don’t see the old pet stains. Hope this helps and good luck with your project. Are you planning on staining your floors? I always love to hear from other women who tackle this huge project.

  • Gautam Pai
    August 10, 2016

    It was a very encouraging write up. I am glad that this adds to my confidence of doing it on my own. Cheer.

  • Amy
    August 12, 2016

    Your floors look awesome. We just bought an old house with hard wood floors. The living room has carpet with wood under, so we will rip that out. The house smells awful from dog urine I’m assuming. I’m sure the carpet smells, but I know for sure one of the bedrooms with wood floors is the worst. Can you please tell me how you applied the hydrogen peroxide. Also, I’d like to know if just sanding the floors and finishing them will help rid the smell. Thanks!

  • Amy
    August 13, 2016

    Your floors look awesome. We just bought an old house with hard wood floors. The house smells awful, from dog urine I’m assuming. Can you please tell me how you applied the hydrogen peroxide. Also, I’d like to know if just sanding the floors and finishing them will help rid the smell. Thanks!

    • sabines
      August 13, 2016

      Hi Amy! Thanks for the kind words. To answer your questions, my floors had several large pet stains under the carpet. The previous owners had several cats and dogs and they were smokers. The carpet was disgusting but once I sanded the floors and applied poly, the smell was gone. I also painted the entire house. Walls, doors, ceilings. Hydrogen peroxide works well on pet stains. However, the older the stains the longer it takes to get rid of them. Her’s how I did it. Take a rag and soak it in hydrogen peroxide. Place it over the stain. I left mine on over night. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the rag. This will keep it from drying out. You may have to do this process twice. Once you remove the rag, let the area dry for several hours. One of my stain was really bad ( black stain). I applied the peroxide twice but I can still see a bit of discoloration. Even after sanding the floor. But keep in mind, I didn’t stain my floors. I’m sure a dark stain would have covered that urine stain completely. It doesn’t bother me. My floors are 46 years old. They aren’t going to be perfect, and honestly, I don’t want perfect floors. I love the small imperfections. I think my floors have character which you can’t get with brand new flooring. I hope my answers help. Let me know if you have any other questions and thank you for reading and commenting.:)

  • Rachel
    August 17, 2016

    Your floors look amazing! Wonderful job! Kudos for going out on a limb against the Lowes employee’s advice. We own a remodel/renovation business and have corrected many issues stemming from Lowes advice. For some reason, Home Depot seems to have a more knowledgeable staff in general and better customer service all the way around. Either way, I’m glad that you found what worked and that you were able to restore your beautiful floors. And even better, all on a great budget!

    • sabines
      August 17, 2016

      Thanks, Rachel.That is a very nice comment… I appreciate it. Sometimes you just have to come of your comfort zone and go for it. I’m not gonna lie, it was scary pushing the button on that floor sander. I’m glad I did, though.

  • Mechelle
    September 1, 2016

    Beautiful results! I too am getting ready to tackle my floors after my husband unexpectedly passed away last year. We pretty much dismantled our house because we were moving and getting ready to put this place up for sale. Then surprise! Im on my own and not moving & living in a construction zone. You are very encouraging to other women out there who need to tackle projects on their own. I’ve gotten quotes from various people and it’s always something ridiculous for such a small space that needs to be done… about 400sq ft. I’ve gotten quotes for 7k! But your floors are just beautiful! I agree that they didn’t need stain! The natural wood is stunning!

    • sabines
      September 1, 2016

      Mechelle, I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing your husband and dealing with a construction zone at the same time is a lot to take. You must be a strong woman. I admire you for taking on this project. It’s a lot of work but it’s doable. Paying someone 7K to sand and seal your floors (only 400sqft !!!) is ridiculous. I understand companies need to make money, but some are just plain thieves. I’m very happy with my floors. They have held up so well. I wish you the best and good luck with the floors.

      • Rob
        May 1, 2017

        Here in Aus the housing market is very strong, so tradies are in high demand. Tradies therefore dont wont to loose $ by wasting time on small jobs when they could make more $ with just a little more time on large jobs.

        eg. One large job per day provides more profit & is easier than say 3 small jobs per day, since each job requires set-up time & effort. Set-up time has to be paid for by someone, so its passed onto the client via a higher rate.

        Also, being so busy tradies can afford to quote ridiculous prices for small jobs. Some people are in a hurry so will ante up.

        • sabines
          May 3, 2017

          Rob, this is very interesting. I can see why tradies prefer larger jobs. Tradies here want to charge as much as $150 an hour, and desperate people often pay the rate.

  • Lindsey
    January 26, 2017

    Gorgeous floors! I will be attempting mine this weekend!! I haven’t seen another tutorial using varathane. With using this, was it not necessary to do a light sanding in between coats?

    • sabines
      January 26, 2017

      Hi Lindsey. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Means a lot to me. Yes, I did do a light sanding between the coats. I used a 220 grit paper. I did cheat a little and only sanded twice. I didn’t have many bubbles and bumps. It looked really smooth. Plus I was in a hurry to get the floors done. Thanks for bringing this up as I forgot to mention the sanding in my post. I will add it. It’s been almost two years since I refinished the floors and they still look great. I have two dogs and three kids. I’m really happy with Varathane. Good luck with your floors. Would love to hear how they turn out.

  • CJ
    June 6, 2017

    Great work on that refinish. But the lady from Lowes wasn’t coompletely off. The rented drum sanders can be a nightmare depending on the abuse they’ve been put through. You got lucky here, but make sure when you rent one of those things that the drum is level and dent free. Otherwise it will destroy your wood floors.

    • sabines
      June 7, 2017

      Thank you, CJ. That is really great advice. Wouldn’t even occur to me to check the drum. I will add it to my post. Thanks for reading.

  • Nate
    June 12, 2017

    Where did you find your replacement floorboards? I have top nail oak floors and am having trouble finding any replacements.

  • Shawnna Jaramillo
    June 14, 2017

    Your re-finished wood floors look great.!! My husband and I are preparing to re-finish our floors as well. We have removed the 1970’s shag carpet and have discovered a few problem areas. The 1st being several pet stains. You mentioned using hydrogen peroxide to remove a pet stain on your floor. What application procedure did you use, and what was the strength of peroxide.??

    Our other problem is that of about a 12″ diameter burn mark in front of where the old wood stove used to be, along with what I assume is a water stain of about 2 ft wide. As was told to me… About 60+ years ago 2 young brothers were arguing over some homemade Play-Doh. The boy’s mother, in an effort to settle the argument… Proceeded to toss all the Play-Doh into the wood stove. At that time the youngest child, (our current neighbor) reached in to the stove in an attempt to retrieve the Play-Doh. And in doing so dropped the fiery blob onto the hardwood floor. Hence creating the burn mark. That quickly was followed up with the water mark.

    Any tips/tricks you have for removing such stains would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your awesome posts.

    Have a great Day.!!

    Shawnna & Gerry Jaramillo

  • Shawnna Jaramillo
    June 14, 2017

    Your re-finished wood floors look great.!! My husband and I are preparing to re-finish our floors as well. We have removed the 1970’s shag carpet and have discovered a few problem areas. The 1st being several pet stains. You mentioned using hydrogen peroxide to remove a pet stain on your floor. What application procedure did you use, and what was the strength of peroxide that you used.?? The other problem is that of about a 12″ diameter burn mark in front of where the old wood stove used to be, along with what I assume is a water stain of about 2 ft wide. As I was told…about 60+ years ago 2 young brothers were arguing over some homemade Play-Doh. The boy’s mother, in an effort to settle the argument… Proceeded to toss all the Play-Doh into the wood stove. At that time the youngest child, (our current neighbor) reached in to the stove in an attempt to retrieve the Play-Doh. And in doing so dropped the fiery blob onto the hardwood floor. Hence creating the burn mark. That quickly was followed up with the water mark.

    Any tips/tricks you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your awesome posts.

    Have a great Day.!!

    Shawnna & Gerry Jaramillo

    • sabines
      June 15, 2017

      Hi Shawnna! The Play-doh story is intense. Can you remove the damaged floor pieces and replace them with new wood? I did that with my 15 ft. damaged floor area. Went to a local hardwood floor store and bought one bundle of red oak flooring for around $90. I had a guy feather in the new pieces. Hydrogen peroxide really does work on pet stains. I get my bottle at the Dollar Tree. I think it’s 3%. Soak a rag with peroxide and place it over the stain. Leave it for a few hours or over night (depending on the severity of the stain). Oh and cover the rag with some saran wrap. This will keep the peroxide from drying out. Hope this helps. Good luck with your flooring. It’s a lot of work but so worth it, in my opinion. Thanks for reading my little blog. 🙂

    June 15, 2017

    thanks,it’s not like i couldn’t do this,it’s just that there are so many things and different ways to keep a flooring job simple,and i found your way seems like a simple and great way to have awesome floors on a budget.

  • Emily Ferguson
    June 27, 2017

    How did you sand between coats? Did you use the drum sander again? I refinished two of my rooms using an orbital sander because like you everyone told me not to use a drum sander. I still have 5 rooms to go and although I am pleased with my results, I feel like I have room for improvement.

    • sabines
      June 28, 2017

      Hi Emily. I sanded twice between the coats using a 220 grit paper with my orbital sander. Once I coated the floors with poly, I was done with the drum sander. There’s no comparison between the orbital and drum sander. The drum sander is a power house yet much gentler on your knees. Doing 5 rooms with an orbital sander seems exhausting. Your knees and back won’t appreciate it. Good luck with the rest of your flooring and thank you for reading.

      • Fern Powers
        August 24, 2017

        Absolutely beautiful job!!! Love the grain in the wood! Stunning!!!!
        Did you apply a stripper before sanding? We have wood floors throughout our home that need refinishing but still have the previous finish (?varathane or varnish) on them. Did you get that off before sanding – or did it just come off when you used the drum sander?

        • sabines
          August 25, 2017

          Thank you, Fern. I didn’t use a floor stripper. The drum sander is very powerful. It removes any previous varnish.

  • Andrea
    August 26, 2017

    Did you use a sealer before your poly? I have read that it is the next step after sanding, but I did not see you mention it.

    • sabines
      August 27, 2017

      Andrea, I did not use a sealer. My understanding is that by using a sealer you achieve a perfectly flat surface. If you like a more rugged look where you can see the grain pattern you omit the sealer. My floors are 47 years old. I like the little imperfections. I think it adds character.

  • Sam
    August 29, 2017

    Did sanding get rid of the smell or did you have to treat it with something else?

    • sabines
      August 30, 2017

      The pet urine stains were from previous owners so they were very old. I didn’t smell anything. I used hydrogen peroxide on some of the really tough, dark stains. It worked great.

  • Victoria Thomas
    December 4, 2017

    All of these are great blog! Thank you so much!

  • Victoria Thomas
    December 12, 2017

    Good blog, stains in wood floors that have gone through the finish and soaked into the wood itself can be difficult to remove and may require sanding and refinishing. If the stain has penetrated too deeply, even sanding may not remove it entirely. Thank you.

  • matt mcghee
    December 17, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing. I was touched by the comment about never letting people say you cant do something. You believed in yourself and did a beautiful job. It gave me inspiration to continue on my newly formed Handyman business. After many years at a fortune 500 shipping company, I was fed up and decided to do what I loved. Well after 1 year I am still hanging in there although it has been tough recently. As I am as old as your floors, friends and family think I have lost it. lol Thanks again for the pep talk.

    • sabines
      December 19, 2017

      Thank you, Matt, for the kind words. Your story is very inspiring… it’s not always easy to give up everything you’re familiar with and follow your passion. It takes a brave person to do so. Wish you all the best and don’t let anyone tell you you CAN’T.

  • Anabel Puckett
    March 5, 2018

    Sometimes all you need is an expert to show you what you have.

  • John
    March 7, 2018

    That was a nice information, thank you for sharing. It’s a pleasure to visit here. If you have some time, you can also visit us in Wood Floor Planet NJ .

  • shirani
    April 1, 2018

    Loved your article so inspiring.value your effects to upgrade people.I am about to start on a project like this. Will take all yr good advice.may u be blessed in all u do.

  • Jaden Huber
    April 28, 2018

    Thanks for all the details. Sanding process is completed we’ll even give you the option of adding a new color to your floor.

  • Megan
    May 9, 2018

    They look wonderful! Thank you for the in-depth post. I really believe us girls can do big projects like this on our own, saving money and learning all at the same time!

    • sabines
      May 9, 2018

      Megan, thank you for the kind words. I agree, girls can tackle big projects. It’s fun to try some challenging projects, especially if they can save you money.

  • michel castongua
    May 15, 2018

    Today Floor sanding is a superb and very very affordable means to help the surroundings and make a stunning Eco friendly floor. And it looks likes gorgeous of any floor design of house or corporate Floor

  • Aalfa Ana
    May 16, 2018

    Excellent discussion and highly informative. Of course in case you have an older floor with lots of built-up finishes, stains, or paint, you might need to make more than it to smooth it out completely.

  • Bill
    May 27, 2018

    Hi there,

    I found this page through Google search. This post gave me information I needed and help me a lot to start doing my floor. I wasn’t sure if I change my floor or refinish it. After reading your story, I decided to refinish my floor. I used square sander before that and it didn’t do the job. I rented a drum sander from Home Depot and so far it is going well. I just don’t know if I use polyurethane or the stain you used. I don’t like my floor to turn yellow!

    I appreciate the post. It was encouraging and helpful.

    • sabines
      May 27, 2018

      Bill, that is awesome. Glad you found my post useful. I didn’t stain my floors at all. I wanted a very natural look. I only used three or four coats of Varathane. Good luck with your project.

  • Milana Buckner
    May 28, 2018

    Wood flooring is a classic choice and, even with the influx of wood-look flooring options, there will always be a market for wood flooring. Rustic, natural and unique hand scraped hardwood floors are making a statement in a big way!

  • Milana Buckner
    June 22, 2018

    Hardwood is a better bathroom flooring choice than, say, carpet, but it can still be very problematic. Moisture kills hardwood, and a bathroom is probably the most humid area of the entire home.

  • Kenny
    July 5, 2018

    Wow!!! Im really amazed how you did it all by yourself.
    I’m on my there as well, and im glad I read your post. Its encouraging!!

    Thank you!!

  • Cora Palmer
    July 6, 2018

    Thank you. It’s great to know the process for refinishing a hardwood floor.

  • sblogsiteblog
    July 25, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this great article. It’s a pleasure to visit here. If you have some time, you can also visit us in Wood Floor Planet NJ .

  • Shelby
    July 26, 2018

    Hi –
    Like you, the guy at Home Depot convinced me to not use the drum sander and go with the orbital sander, which after 7 hours hadn’t even finished one small bedroom. If I rent the drum sander do you think I’ll be able to finish 500 sqft in one day? I have a living room and two small bedrooms. The one bedroom is almost done after the orbital worked on it for 7 hours but the other bedroom has remnants of tile goop on it. I’ve been told the drum sander will tear right through it without a problem. I’m just nervous I’m going to waste another day with little accomplishment. Thank you so much for your post.

    • sabines
      July 26, 2018

      Shelby, I was able to sand three bedrooms, hallway and living room in one day (approx. 650 square feet). I started early in the morning and worked into the evening. Returned the sander the next morning. Yes, the drum sander will lift up everything… amazing machine. Go slow and keep moving with the sander. Orbital sander is good for edges, corners. Plus your poor back must be killing you. Good luck on your project. Hope it works out!

  • Wolf
    September 8, 2018

    Fantastic job. I know how hard it is to work a drum sander. When I rented one thirty years ago I had the experience that C.J. touched on earlier. The drum was damaged and I was unexperienced enough not to know that this is probably the most important step in renting a drum sander. My floors were ruined, so I thought, but after exchanging the sander and taking it nice and slow everything worked out in the end. Your floors are amazing and I know that they will still be amazing in 20 years. It was a pleasure to read this blog. Keep up the good work.

    • sabines
      September 9, 2018

      Wolf, thank you so much for your kind words. I love getting comments because I learn so much from them and I hope other readers do too. I was lucky with my sander, I guess, but it’s great advice to check out the sander thoroughly before renting it. It’s something I didn’t do. Will check next time ( if I ever refinish another floor again).

  • Darwin
    September 10, 2018

    My wife and I are going to redo pine tongue and groove floors next weekend. We tore out all carpet and vinyl flooring to find these nice pine floors. I know it will be tough work but you make it look worth it in the end. We will be sanding, staining with red mahogany and finally polyurethane for the satin finish. I’m dreading it all but you inspire me. Thanks for blogging all your work.

    • sabines
      September 16, 2018

      Darwin, so happy to hear about your project. Lucky you found those nice floors. The hard work is well worth it. Would love to see your end result. Please send a pic if you can. Good luck and thank you for reading.

  • Christine
    September 18, 2018

    I am *very* late to this party, but just wanted to say that your floors are GORGEOUS — love that you didn’t use a stain! You’ve inspired me to brave the same project myself, even though I’ll also be a single woman working alone. 🙂

    Thank you so much for the article!

    • sabines
      September 18, 2018

      Thank you, Christine. I’m so happy to hear about your upcoming project. You got this! I bet your floors will look gorgeous too. Would love to see some photos.

  • maplefloorsstaindark
    September 29, 2018

    How is the finish holding up? Is it peeling yet? See those dark spots of yellow? Old finish Next time try cutting it twice with the 40 or 36 to make sure you remove the old The rental machine are not aggressive that is why
    If you hook a vacuum up to the sander there would be less dust But not to shabby for your first

  • Jefferson
    October 23, 2018

    Oh great! It was a fun reading this. I have learned a lot

  • margaret byrd
    November 7, 2018

    It looks great! For future reference refinishing furniture using an old book on woodworking I learned I can remove stains from wood with oxalic acid.

  • Brittany
    November 20, 2018

    This article has been a big help for me. Thanks I was able to read this one

  • Cora Palmer
    January 11, 2019

    Great put up, very informative. Thank you for every other magnificent post.

  • Keith L
    January 21, 2019

    Great article. Curious if anyone suggested using a buffer with screen after sanding? We have read articles saying you have to and some that say after sanding go straight to finishing as the next step. Also we just assumed staining was necessary but have now decided we want the natural look of the wood. Just an FYI also. We have read how staining will show any sanding inconsistencies like scratches and swirling so much more than just doing polyurethane.
    Just as others have said you were fortunate to get a well maintained drum sander. I actually called the manufacturer and learned a ton about how important the maintenance that needs to be done to the drum and the edgers in order for them to be used by the general public. One interesting fact I learned. Just running the drum sander ( in the up position ) without paper on it puts excess wear on it. Plus there are adjustments particularly on the edger that can cause them to operate incorrectly for a newbie. Also flooring pros will rent these very same machines from Home Depot and because they know what they are doing abuse them essentially knocking them out of wack. So if not properly checked out when returned to HD the next unexpecting customer get a sander not working properly.
    Lastly you are so spot on about the physical toll on your body floor sanding does lol! Sore on top of sore!

    • Sabine
      January 27, 2019

      Keith, this is great info… thank you for sharing. In my case, no one brought up the buffer. I, too, prefer the natural look of the wood, at least for my small house. Btw, the floors are holding up great and we have pets and kids.

  • Jeni
    February 12, 2019

    Hi, these look great! I wondered if you could do the stain in parts at a time? We can’t really move out our family but we’d like to refinish the floors. It’s our main level though. Where we enter the house and how we get to the kitchen. All one room. Any suggestions?

    • Sabine
      February 16, 2019

      Jeni, I didn’t stain my floors for two reasons; stain takes much longer to dry. Since my house is small, lighter wood makes it less formal. Unless you can avoid walking through that one room, I don’t know how you could stain and seal it.

  • Eleanor Turner
    February 15, 2019

    Very valuable blog post!. Thank you for sharing this great blog.

  • Niki
    June 28, 2019

    Wow, you did an awesome job. The floors look great!! I have an old house with the orange, shiny hardwood floors and I hate them! I think my husband and I will redo them ourselves eventually now that I’ve read this.

    One question: did you use any grit besides 60 on the floors with the drum sander prior to applying the poly?


    • Sabine
      July 3, 2019

      Thank you. I don’t exactly remember… it’s been more than four years. I think I finished with the 80 and used the 225 between applying poly.

  • Dan
    July 12, 2019

    Very nice! Impressive tutorial with good photos and clear/concise information. Thank you for posting.

  • skilzmom
    November 5, 2019

    We bought a 60 yr old house that was covered in not-too-terrible carpeting BUT the previous owner had several doggies. Carpet OUT, hardwoods underneath. I begged hubtard to let me rent a sander but he huffed and gruffed ‘it’ll be fine with the hand sander..” WRONG. All the floors are patchy and look like crap…he even stained them afterward. However, since we finally got rid of the carpet in the largest room, he sees where a big sander would be so much better. FINGERS CROSSED. Yours turned out beautifully!!

  • Paul Smith
    December 3, 2019

    Nice job! I just came across this as I’m researching refinishing the hardwood floors on a house I hope to be closing on soon. How long did it take you to sand with the drum sander from the 32 grit to the 80? I’m going to have about 600 sq ft to sand. I have no idea how long it would take to make one pass with the sander.

  • Andrew Clement
    December 15, 2019

    Are you accepting orders for floor refinishing and repair? 🙂 Of course I’m joking. Great job. I am glad that there are women who are not afraid to take on a difficult and seemingly responsible task, like floor refinishing.



    • Sabine
      December 22, 2019

      Thank you, Andrew. I’m currently not accepting any orders. Calendar is full haha! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’d do it all over again if I had to. Merry Christmas!

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Mom in Music City is a lifestyle blog, written by Sabine Schmidt, celebrating a simple and practical approach to home improvement, decor, beauty, food, parenting, and much more.

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