Refinishing Wood Floors: Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted “Part 1” of the floor-refinishing process. I meant to post Part 2 way before now…but I’ve been just a little busy – Our new baby arrived on Halloween!

So it’s a week two weeks after his arrival, and I finally have a moment to finish this post! In Part 1, I talked about the sanding process.  Today, I’ll go over staining and finishing – this part is much more exciting, because you finally get to see a difference in wood color (and because you will soon be DONE!).

How to Refinish Wood Floors

You will need:

  • Clean towels
  • A vacuum
  • Stain of your choice – we mixed Minwax’s “Provincial” and “Walnut”
  • Paint brush
  • Stain-pad applicator
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • Water/Dawn dish soap
  • Paint trays
  • Polyurethane – we used Minwax’s “Fast Drying Polyurethane” in clear semi-gloss
  • Lamb skin applicator
  • Stir sticks

Reminder: make sure your newly sanded floors are CLEAN! We went over them with towels and a vacuum several times before applying stain to make sure that we removed as much sanding-debrit as possible.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Our stain colors – we just did a 50/50 mix of Provincial + Dark Walnut and poured them in a bucket:

How to Refinish Wood FloorsHow to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 1: In an attempt to protect the base boards from getting stain on them, we first “cut in” with a regular old paint brush (moving in the direction of the grain).
How to Refinish Wood Floors How to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 2: While the edges were still wet, we used a stain pad to cover the rest of the floor. Make sure to spread the stain as much as possible without allowing it to pool anywhere. How to Refinish Wood Floors

Also…another tip: make sure you work your way out of the room (don’t box yourself in or you’ll have to walk on the stained floor to get out of the room). This seems pretty obvious, but you never know!! ;) How to Refinish Wood FloorsHow to Refinish Wood Floors

In “Part 1” I mentioned that you should not get the raw wood floor wet. Here’s why:

How to Refinish Wood Floors

The water had completely dried (or so we thought) but after we put stain on the floor, the water ring and droplets showed back up. SO – learn from our mistakes and keep liquids out of the room until the floor is completely polyurethaned and dried.

You can see the water ring again in the photo below. It became a little less obvious after a while (as you can see), but is still there after the floor is 100% complete.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

We let the stain dry for 24 hours. After that time, the stain will look pretty flat – see below.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 3: We ended up getting some stain on the baseboards, so after the stain dried, I went in and touched those up. Obviously you won’t have to do this if you’re not as messy as we are…and you don’t have to do it at this point, either (you could wait until after the floor has been polyurethaned). Your choice!

I first tried putting a plastic sheet down to protect the floors, but found that it didn’t really work since it didn’t come right up to the baseboard.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

This tool worked a lot better – I just put it right up next to the baseboard and painted, making sure to wipe it off occasionally to keep as much paint off the floor as possible. I did get a little bit on the wood floors, but we’ll be putting quarter round in that will cover it up…so I didn’t worry too much.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 4: Below is the polyurethane we used – Mixwax’s “Fast Drying” solution in semi-gloss.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Make sure you mix the poly with a paint stick! We failed to mix it when we did our living room, and part of the floor dried matte and part dried shiny. After doing some research, we realized that since we forgot to mix it, the polyurethane had separated in the can, leaving a weird uneven finish. So again, learn from our mistakes and mix (not shake) that can up before you use it!

*Note: we were able to remedy the situation by applying another coat of (mixed) poly on top of the weird coat. SO if you make the same mistake, fear not! 

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Just like when we stained the floors, we “cut in” with the poly, just to get as close to the baseboards as possible. We wore masks because this stuff is pretty potent! You’ll definitely want to leave windows open, if possible, while it’s drying. OR, better yet…leave the house for a few hours after you finish.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

In the first room we did, we used a foam roller to apply the poly. This wasn’t the best method – doing so left little tiny bubbles in the poly.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

We just used a clean paint brush to smooth out those bubbles, so everything was fine.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

How to Refinish Wood Floors

In the next room, we improved our technique and used a lambskin applicator. This worked SO much better – the poly went on completely smooth.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

I mentioned that the floor would be pretty flat after staining. Below you can see the difference after applying poly. It goes on super shiny, but will flatten out a bit after it dries.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

We let the first coat of poly dry for about 24 hours.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 5: After letting the first coat dry for 24 hours, we wet-sanded the floors with 400 grit sandpaper and a mixture of warm water + a few drops of Dawn dish soap. This step will smooth out any tiny bubbles in the first coat of poly, so you have a super-smooth surface to apply the second coat to.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

How to Refinish Wood Floors

After sanding, your floors will look like this. We just went in with a damp cloth and cleaned all of that white powder up before applying the second coat.

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Second coat of poly going on our living room floor:

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Second coat (before drying) in our bedroom:

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 6: Enjoy your beautiful new floors!! We let the second (final) coat dry for 48 hours before moving in any furniture – you could let it dry longer if you want to be extra safe, but we were too excited…and everything has been fine!

And just because I couldn’t leave this one out, here’s a picture of our finished floor in the baby’s nursery (and my baby bump). :)

How to Refinish Wood Floors

If you’re thinking about refinishing your wood floors and have any questions, let me know!

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2 Comments

  1. OMG you guys are amazing! It looks wonderful. Cost wise was it easier to DIY vs having someone else do it?

    • Thanks Maggy ;) I’m not sure what it would cost to have someone refinish but I would imagine its less expensive to DIY. We’re going to pull up some laminate and carpet and we are going to hire someone to install raw wood in those rooms – we’ll stain them ourselves though! I figure if you have the ability to DIY, then you should! Plus it was fun to learn how to do it all. :)

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