Tips on Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Some background: We have three kids (messy), a dog (tracks mud into the house), and two cats (puke a lot). And we moved into a house with off-white carpet three and a half years ago. And for the past, say, three years, that carpet has looked really, really bad. And since we are fortunate enough to have hardwood floors under at least part of that carpet, it seemed like a good idea to take the carpet up. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

After I talked Alex into doing this, we discovered that whoever had put down the carpet had either painted carelessly because they knew they were going to put down a carpet, or they had put down a carpet because the floor was covered in white paint splotches. Oops. Sorry, Alex. Maybe your reluctance to pull up the carpet was well-founded. That picture below doesn’t show the paint in all its glory.

Consequently we (and by “we,” I mean “Alex”) decided to refinish the floors by ourselves (himself). Bad idea? You might think so, but you’d be wrong.

That said, onward to the tips:

Tip #1: Have my husband do it for you. I was skeptical. I kinda thought we may not want to do it ourselves. In fact, I kinda thought that if we threw an area rug over the middle of the floor and tried to clean up the edges a little, we’d be okay. Because although Alex has successfully done things like paint rooms and install toilets and garbage disposals, I was a little nervous about this project. I had visions of our new air conditioner breaking when sawdust choked the vents. I had visions of deep divots in our floor. I had visions of me dusting bits of the floor out of the rest of the house for the next year of my life. But Alex, in an apparent bid to live down a careless “No, my husband’s not handy” that I said to a neighbor three years ago, stepped up. And you know what? My husband’s handy.

Tip #2: Ignore the nay-sayers. You really can do it. We went to a party the day the sanding was to start, and nearly everyone there seemed to think it was a bad idea. People I think of as extremely handy said things like: “Yeah, that’s one thing I’ll happily pay someone else to do.” Ha, ha! Go to hell, nay-sayers!

Tip #3: Update your electrical system before you start sanding. After taping plastic sheeting over every door, vent, and unused electrical outlet, Alex rented a sander and went at it. And then the fuse blew. So he flipped it. And then it blew again. And then he flipped it. Again and again and again. And at one point the room I was in suddenly went temporarily black. I heard some pretty choice curse words come out of that living room, I have to say. But that only lasted for…four…maybe five hours. Okay, maybe seven.

Tip #4: If you have three kids, don’t start sanding at 7:30 at night. I hesitate to even say this because it was really nice of Alex to wait until after the little dudes’ bedtime to start work. He could easily have said it was my fault he had to do it in the first place and left me with three kids all weekend while he sequestered himself in the living room. But he didn’t. And the kids did fine with the sanding. For the most part. Quinn did wake up screaming at 2 a.m. And wouldn’t go back to sleep. So Alex brought him to our bedroom and dumped him in the bed next to me. And then Quinn proceeded to chat to me non-stop for the next hour and fifteen minutes until Alex finished sanding and took him back to his crib. (“Where’s Daddy? Daddy downstairs. Where’s Cassidy? Cassidy barking. Cassidy funny. Where’s Jack? Where’s Sam? Where’s Mommy? Hee, hee, hee. Where’s Daddy? Cassidy barking…”)

Tip #5: Even if you don’t want little kitty prints all through your polyurethane, don’t lock your cat in your bedroom all night without a litterbox. Especially don’t do this if said cat sleeps on your wife’s pillows. Your wife might, just might, wake up to a couple of destroyed pillows and a pee-puddle on her mattress where her head usually lives. She also might wake up smelling like cat pee, requiring a thorough showering, even though she already took a shower the night before. This might happen. And it might be even grosser than giving Quinn a suppository.

Oooh, shiny!

7 thoughts on “Tips on Refinishing Hardwood Floors

  1. Funny, WhyMommy. :)

    And, I know, who knew Alex would kick this much ass on this project? (Apparently Alex did.) He’ll be pleased with all your kudos. He’d been waiting patiently for the floor post.

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