Floors—My First DIY Project
One day in the summer of 2004, I took up a carpet knife and began slicing away at my carpet. I knew the house had fir floors, and I was determined to refinish them. Piece by piece, the carpet and pad, along with hundreds of staples and nails, disappeared. I couldn’t believe the dirt and dander that 15 years had stashed under the rug. Gross! I’ll never again have a carpeted living area.
I rented a belt sander at The Home Depot. The thing weighed about one ounce less than the maximum I could lift. I don’t know how I got it out of the trunk of my car and up the front stairs! Here it is, ready to rock and roll in the dining room.
From the buffet in the dining room to the fireplace in the living room is about 27 feet. One pass down and back used up one sandpaper belt. I used over 40 sanding belts by the time I was done.
Each pass loaded the paper with varnish, which the friction of sanding baked into something resembling glass.
Even tougher to sand was the hall, which had carpet over old linoleum. The fir was covered with nasty, hard and blackened glue. Here, Dodger guards the open cold air intake. When I removed the grating, I turned away briefly, and when I turned back all I could see was Rosencrantz’s butt as he took a dive to explore the nether regions of the heating system. I pulled him out by his Maine coon tail! Mee-YOW!! Isn’t the dogwood flowered wallpaper awesome? I did love it, but it was too dark and busy. Today the hall is a light avocado green.
Slow but steady progress amid clouds of pink fir dust.
With the bulk of the floor sanded, I traded the big belt machine for an edge sander. And then I kind of ran out of steam. I didn’t have any experience with stain and I didn’t want to mess up that critical step. And I knew I didn’t want to apply sealer myself. I called in the pros. My contractor was at first reluctant to take over a DIY job, but I asked him to take a look before he turned me down. He was quite impressed that I’d done such a good job by myself. He took over with the finish sanding. The first stain color test was exactly what I wanted–a warm reddish brown.
I spent three nights curbside in a friend’s motorhome while the floor cured. Then, on a beautiful sunny September day, I opened the doors and windows to air out the house. The floor was gorgeous–way beyond my expectations. The effect was magical!
I wish I could say the floor still looks that great, but after 12 years and three energetic boxers, it’s well scarred in heavy traffic areas. I’ve read that floors usually need refinishing every 15 years or so, and I didn’t expect my soft wood floors to hold up as well as oak or maple. They’re still a lovely color and I’m so glad I made the change from carpet.