Dust and Pride: The Pros & Cons of Hardwood Floor Restoration (PART 2 of 2)Serge Bielanko
This is PART 2 of a two-part article. You can read Part 1 here.
So, you’re still thinking that you might just be able to refinish your hardwood floors on your own, after all?
Of course, you can!
In Part One of this article, we went through some of the major Pros & Cons of what the job entails. And I’m hoping that you agree with me when I tell you that even though it’s a big job with lots of dust and some heavy equipment, it’s also a job that you can easily do if you want to.
So, let’s consider a couple more things that will really help you decide if you’re up to the task or not, shall we?
Pros: You can get almost everything you need to restore your hardwood floors in one or two stops.
If you’re lucky, your local Home Depot has a tool and equipment rental center, which will basically mean you can be in an out of one place in like an hour with everything you need. If they don’t however, there are tons of places everywhere that will rent you the sanders you will be using. And the rest of the stuff like stains and hand tools, most places carry.
Basically the two stars of the show that you will need to rent is a drum sander and an edging sander. And wherever you rent them will also sell you plenty of the sanding belts you will need too. Some things you may or may not need, like a screwdriver and a razor knife and a hammer and some pliers. It all depends on whether or not your are tearing up old carpet or not. But either way, you can get them all for maybe 20 bucks or so.
Cons: The drum sander is a beast of a machine, but for good reason.
These monsters weigh a lot because they need to put mucho pressure on the floorboards you are sanding.
But if you’re doing a floor on an upper floor of your home, don’t plan on hauling the drum sander up on your own! You’ll definitely need an able-bodied partner to help you with that, so plan accordingly.
Drum sanders aren’t terribly difficult to use, but in all honesty, some are way better and easier than others. If you can, talk to someone you know who has done their own floors and ask them where they rented their drum sander from. If they were able to use it successfully, then chances are you will too. Anything else you will need will be light enough to handle on your own. I’d say, that on average, you should be able to rent both a drum sander and an edging sander for about 75 bucks a day total.
-The Big Job
Pros: When you have done all your homework and your prep work and you are finally ready to start sanding your old wooden floors, that’s when the fun begins.
Operating the sanders is something I picked up fairly quickly, within an hour of getting started really. The absolute number one rule with sanding is to KEEP THE SANDER MOVING! When the power is on you simply must be moving forward or backward or you will gouge your floors. That sounds scary and it is! But it is incredibly easy to avoid, too. All drum sanders have a mechanism which enables them to pull the rotating paper away from the floor whenever you need to, so as long as you know how to do that, you’ll be fine.
Then, it’s all just a matter of moving slowly with the wood grain, from one edge of the room to the other, over and over and over again. You’ll likely be making three passes per room utilizing different grains of sanding belts, changing belts on the machine and vacuuming away excess dust when you need to. After each pass with the drum sander, you’ll be using the edger sander to cover all the areas along the wall that your drum sander can’t get to.
As for the staining and polyurethane process, take your time and read up on techniques. It is a very easy job that can be done successfully if you have some insight from other folks via conversations or video tutorials. An remember, with both staining and poly, having a dust-free impeccably clean floor is critical!
Doing ALL of your homework and speaking with your tool rental folks will help you tremendously with all of this.
Cons: In the beginning, the roar of the belt sander and the fear of messing things up can be a little overwhelming.
But just stick some ear plugs in, concentrate on what you’re doing, and take your time and you’ll do fine. You’ll also want a good pair of safety goggles and a decent aerator mask so the dust doesn’t bother you at all. But other than that, you’ll start seeing the fruits of your labor instantly as your hardwood floors are stripped back to reveal their gorgeous original hues and colors. It’s a hugely satisfying job when you are deliberate and slow, because you get to see a difference from the get-go.
Okay, I hope this might help you decide to give your hardwood floors a second look. It really is a job that almost any homeowner can take on and achieve amazing results with when they are prepared and confident.
And trust me when I tell you this last thing.
When you are finally done the whole project and you look at the vibrant boards beneath your feet, the wood that you have brought back to new life with your sweat and toil, you will feel as satisfied and proud as you ever have, no matter what jobs you’ve tackle in the past.