Hi everyone! I am coming with a big update on our ranch house – we refinished the hardwood flooring on the main story!
The old oak flooring and the decision of hiring out
We have hardwood flooring on most of the main story of the house, including the living room, Slav’s office, and my office/guest room. Fun fact, we only discovered the red oak flooring on the day we closed on house. I am not even sure if the previous owner knew about the hardwood under the carpet…But since we discovered it, you bet the first thing we did was to rip off the carpet and reveal the wood floor.
Unfortunately, the wood flooring we inherited were not in good condition. The carpet tack strip left many nail holes:
Tiles were laid at the front entry, and the thinset left ugly marks on the wood floor underneath.
The hallway among bedrooms and the main floor bath were badly worn, and there were paint splashes everywhere.
Right before the closing day, the previous owner burned the wood floor in the living room, likely with an iron.
With all the flaws and imperfection, it makes sense to refinish the floor all at once. We decided to hire professionals for this job, because they can complete the task much quicker and cleaner (more on that later). The goal is to save our time and energy for the finishing work AFTER the floor refinish, such as installing trims and baseboard. Luckily, we found a highly-praised floor contractor who could pencil us before winter weather. So the game is on!
To prepare for the floor refinish…
We spent a whole week to prepare for the floor work, including moving all the furniture out of the house and into the garage, and taping the built-in bookshelves for dust control. Of course the floor crew could have moved the furniture, but it was a great time for us to organize and to purge.
I removed the built-in drawers to expose the floor underneath the bookshelves. And Slav steam-cleaned the rugs before rolling them up for storage.
We also packed away all the curtains and blinds on the main floor. The floor crew will use the dust-free method for sanding, but we knew that dust was inevitable and it is better to just wash the curtains now instead of after the floor work.
While most of the baseboards were removed during carpet removal, there was still some left in closets. Slav pried all baseboards off and cleaned the wall skirt. We would be installing new baseboards throughout the main story after the floor refinish.
The front door threshold were also removed to prevent potential damage by the sander. So many little details!
Lastly, the wood planks next the kitchen tiled floor was badly worn. We decided on a whim to replace them with the floor boards left from the office doorway floor patch.
Floor sanding and testing the stain color (the 1st day)
Preparing for the floor refinish took us a whole weekend, but all was worth it. The following Tuesday, while Slav and I were at work, the floor crews came in to sand the floors.
Y.U.M.M.Y! Even the hidden corners under the bookshelves were sanded pretty well. We were very happy with the result.
Here are some before and afters. The sander took off the scratch marks, and the floor crew filled the nail holes and gaps. The whole flooring became very smooth and uniform.
Patched spot next to the kitchen:
The same spot before:
Inside the pantry closet:
The same closet before:
The hallway before:
And the murphy bed/winter gear closet area:
The floor crew also left a few stain and sealer sample. It was a hard decision to make. I want the main story to be light and airy with lots of green plants, so lighter color was a natural choice. But I also did not want anything too trendy such as grey or white wash…So eventually we decided on the lightest color with any grey tone – the natural sealer from BONA (the lower right panel).
Staining and sealing the floor (the 2nd day)
We confirmed the color choice with the floor contractor in the morning of the second day, then left for work. Around 2pm, Slav texted me and said the floor was done!!! I could not get home fast enough to see it.
I was so glad to have chosen the natural sealer (without any stain), since three coats of sealer still made the floor slightly darker than just bare wood. I think this is due to the darkening of the wood grain though. The picture above were taken with afternoon light. Without direct sun, the floor looked a bit darker, as shown in the picture below.
I think the new floor color complements the white wall and dark bookshelves pretty well.
The crew did a good job refinishing the small corners underneath the bookshelves.
And the floor boards we patched in became a lot less noticeable.
In person, it was actually hard to tell where the floor patch is.
Here is the living room! I could not tell where the burn spot was anymore.
Here is more or less the prints of the hot iron was. can you spot it?
And of course, getting all these white paint marks off the floor made it look ten times better.
Although all the nail holes were filled, you can still see where they were because the damage they have caused. But the flooring there is actually very smooth. We will be installing baseboard trims soon and many of these nail holes will be covered.
There was two places we saw the biggest improvement, and one of them is the front entry. The thinset marks were completely sanded off and it looked like that there were never tiles here.
The only give-away are the nail holes from the carpet next to the tile. But they will be easily covered by an entryway rug.
The second area of big improvement is the hallway. Look at the new hallway!
The floor in my office was the best of the entire house. And now it looked even better. The floor in the closet and murphy bed area was nicely refinished too.
You can no longer see the floor patch here anymore.
Like these boards were always together…
The floor patch at the door of the closet was well blended in too:
We loved it!
Overall we were very happy with the “new” floor! The choice of hiring professionals was a great call – it would have taken us days if not weeks to complete this task. Plus, as DIYers we could not rent the dust-free machine they used that vacuums majorities of the dust away while sanding. We hardly experienced any dust or odor during the two work days or afterwards, and the cleanup was minimal before moving the furniture back. We were also impressed by how much the sanding improved the look of the flooring – almost all the scratches and dark spots were taken care of. Although there are still visible nail marks, they are a lot less noticeable. In general, the floor is no longer an eyesore of the house!
Now looking back, we really could have gotten this done when we first moved in, right after all the carpet was removed. Lessons learned! But hey, late is better than never, right?
So, what is next? We will be moving onto baseboard installation right away and hope to have the furniture back in a couple weeks. At the mean time, I am contemplating a new layout for the living room that should bring more identity and style to the space. So stay tuned, friends! I will be back with an update soon!