December 19, 2009

Dining Room Floor: Sanding & Staining

It took a couple of weeks to get to this point (last post on this project here), but we've finally been able to start the process of finishing the hardwood floors.

Heavy duty rented floor sanderWe rented a floor sander for this job. We sanded the dining room floor first...

Living room floor getting sanded... and then the living room. We debated about whether to go ahead and do the living room at the same time, or wait until a later date. I was afraid that we'd lose momentum if we waited on the living room floor. Plus, I'm tired of all the dust! Dust from tearing down the chimney, dust from tearing down the fireplace, dust from putting in the new hearth, dust from building the woodstove alcove, and now dust from doing the dining room floor. I want my house back!

View of both living and dining room floorsBoth floors are oak, but you can see the difference in their natural colors with the old finish off the living room floor.
Hand sanding with an orbital sanderThere was a lot of hand sanding too. This included the edges by the walls where the floor sander couldn't get, and also rough spots left by that same floor sander when it stops and starts.

Brushing down the stainFinally staining. I chose a color similar to what the living room originally was.

I will admit that we aren't entirely happy with the way the stain turned out. We did a lot of research beforehand, both on types of stains as well as techniques for putting it down. The big concern is getting it down evenly. To accomplish this we feathered the edges, but we still ended up with areas that aren't evenly blended. Of course I googled this problem and discovered that it is unfortunately all too common. Not only amongst DIYers, but quite a few professional jobs turned out the same. The type and brand of stain didn't matter, they can all do it . And there's nothing to be done after the fact unless one has the energy to sand the whole finish off again and start over. Many advised that putting on the finish helped the overall appearance, though I can't see how. Fortunately the high traffic areas (hallway and doorways) look the best. Most of the rest of it will be covered with furniture and an area rug or two.

Stained floorsNext will be two coats of the polyurethane finish on both floors. We are going to use a satin finish because, 1 - we like it better, and 2 - glossier finishes are more reflective and tend to make imperfections more prominent. After that we can finish the thresholds, trim, and other finishing touches.

The light at the end of the tunnel is being able to have functional dining and living rooms. That means the spare room and my studio can be cleared out of furniture and unpacked boxes, so they will also be usable. It also means I can get the rest of my dishes, kitchen tools, and what-nots unpacked. As you can imagine, I'm really looking forward to that day.

Rascal's wet kitty paw print
[I've had to close comments on this post, sorry. Some flooring company in London keeps leaving spam and I'm tired of having delete it.]


Life Looms Large said...

You guys are amazing, doing so much work on your house this year!!! It's great that you're making use of that new homeowner momentum!!

Too bad the stain didn't come out as well as you'd wish. Around here, I think most floors are just natural colored oak. I'm not sure I can recall seeing stained floors in many houses.

I do think the finish will help. Just like if you have a stained piece of furniture, then put urethane, it kind of evens out and looks more finished and just better. Maybe the light reflects differently.

Good call on the satin finish. That's what we have too and we really like it. It holds up well with animals (ahem, Bailey) and if you need to touch up a bit of the finish in a high traffic area in a few years it's pretty forgiving of that too.

I'll bet you can't wait to have your house set up and I can't wait til you have your studio set up!!


MiniKat said...

Hehe! I love Rascal's "paw of authenticity." :-)

The floor is looking good, despite the uneven staining issues.

A cabinet-maker friend of mine laid a pieced floor in his dining room years ago. Instead of using dark stains he used different types of wood and laid the pieces so the whole floor looks like a Irish Chain quilt. Then he just sealed the wood.

Coolest (simple) floor ever for a house with a fiber artist living in it! :-)

Renee Nefe said...

I was going to call that your snoopervisor's stamp of approval. :D

very nice! I'm sure you're so happy to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Benita said...

"I want my house back." Oh, dear, do I understand that!

But you are so much closer and that has to feel good - after a hot bath and some extra strength Advil.

I love reading about your progress and I love the kitty-print.

Sharon said...

I wish we had put down a marine spar varnish. After seven years the three coats of varnish have disappeared. I have to wax and I didn't expect that.

Leigh said...

Yikes, I just discovered that I'd forgotten the "after" photo! It's just been added (10:44 p.m.)

Sue, I surely hope you're right about the finish. And thanks for the feedback about satin.

Kat, that floor sounds like a real work of art! I would love to see it.

Renee, well, he wasn't approved of for walking on the unfinished floor with wet feet! *LOL

Benita, we're sisters in a shared misery here. But I'm sure we'd also agree that the end result will be worth it! :)

Sharon, I wouldn't relish the idea of having to wax regularly either. We're hoping we will get quite a few years out of ours.

Anonymous said...

Our living room floor had been stained a dark red which was quite overpowering, so after the sanding we decided to go the other way lighten it. The hot tip at the time was to use a diluted white emulsion as a wash, which we duly did, but what a nightmare! It was such a wet mix that it took us hours to apply - one of us rubbing it in and the other taking off the excess until our hands were numb (and white, of course). We have a lovely floor now, but never again! I would never have had the energy to blog about it either so kudos to you, Leigh :)

Anonymous said...

P.S. And I'm definitely with you on the satin finish.

Theresa said...

Sue, it looks great even though you are not happy with certain areas. The satin is a nice finish, we used it also, but with our dog traffic here, not to mention the grit and grime the humans bring in, all our downstairs floors need to be refinished. We have Doug fir floors which are also softer than oak. If I could afford it, at this point in time, I would go with all tile. No where near as pretty but critter proof..
Love the paw of approval there!

Woolly Bits said...

you're making good progress! yes, I can imagine that it's nice to finally get all the things unpacked. we haven't stained our timber floors, because it would have made our small rooms even darker, but I would have used satin finish as well, I don't like the high sheen on floors (or furniture...)to be honest, I prefer natural wood wherever I can have it:)) I like the pawprint = approved by Rascal?:))

Woody said...

Looks great to me! Merry Christmas to ya'll

Leigh said...

Cally, good grief but that sounds like a horrendous job. I suppose it's one of those "live & learn" projects. I appreciate your weighing in about the satin finish too. So far it's unanimous so I feel confident we're making the right choice.

Theresa, Sharon from In Stitches mentioned the same thing about dogs and hardwood floors! We don't have any dogs (yet) so maybe we need to think this thing through.

We have ceramic tile in the kitchen and I can't wait to get rid of it. When we first looked at the home I was excited about it, but it's just not for me. Besides the fact that I'm a klutz and keep dropping things on it which have resulted in it cracking, the grout needs to be replaced. Not to mention the grout always looks dirty. Plus it's freezing cold in winter. Of course, you might not have butter fingers and there may be better grout and sealers on the market today. And there's always radiant heat! They do look pretty, I have to admit that.

Bettina, I can't wait to finally get unpacked! I admit I like natural wood as well. My motivation for the darker color was for a more formal look for the dining room, which Dan wants to be formal. But you're right about the way the color affects the lightness of the room. In the kitchen, we eventually plan to put down pine plank floors and I think we'll leave those natural.

Woody, thank you! And a Merry Christmas back at ya!

bspinner said...

The amount of work you two are doing is amazing and from all the pictures has been will worth it. I'm sure you are tired of all the dust but from of all the pictures you've posted your home is sure coming together.

Homemaker Ang said...

can you come and finish the floors in the cottage next? :)

Leigh said...

Barb, it has been a lot of work but one thing we keep reminding ourselves is that a lot of these are one time projects. They won't be on going like animals or garden. The payoff is that it's starting to feel like home, our home. We are liking it better and better with each project we complete.

Ang, *LOL. It's funny because I just asked my husband this evening if he'd like to go into the flooring business. He didn't hesitate a split second but promptly responded, "No." So I guess we won't be going anywhere with that soon. :)

Robin said...

I'm sorry.That would be REALLY frustrating. It looks super nice from the photos though.

Katrien said...

Looks fantastic!

Leigh said...

Robin, it was at first, frustrating I mean. We've got the first coat of polyurethane down in the living room now and it's looking better. Not that the overlap marks have disappeared, but even the satin finish reflects just enough so as to make them less noticeable. Ah well, live and learn.

Katrien, thanks!