DIY Floor Refinishing and Other Moving Adventures

We’ve been living in the new house for just over a month now, so its high time for an update post.  A lot has happened around here already, and the longer we live here, the clearer our vision of the ‘Johnson Nature Center’ becomes.  Really the house suits us so well.  I’m realizing how naturally everything is transitioning from ‘their home’ to ‘our home’.  We’re liking it better and better all the time, and we have many plans and dreams.  We want a comfortable, well-utilized, organized interior, and an exterior with every sort of adventure and fun to be had – a garden, deep woods, a tree house, a porch swing, maybe some chickens of our very own?  Simple as that.

Our first adventure started almost immediately.  Having been homeowners for approximately 52 hours, we pulled up all the vinyl tile in the “great” room… i.e. the living/dining/kitchen/laundry combo room.  That’s the majority of the house, approximately 1000 sq ft or so, but it was kind of like biting your finger nails.  Once you start, there’s no stopping till its done.  Its too addictive.

houseupdate1_August surveys our progress.

The tiles were only glued to themselves, not the floor at all.  How awesome is that?!?  So the “demo” portion of the project literally only took three hours.  Underneath, the soft pine floors were in mediocre condition.  Here’s a shot of the one of the worst areas.


These babies were walked on for 20 yrs or so and were definitely in need of some attention.

Oh, we’d be smart to refinish this before we move in,” we thought.

So we put our moving plans on hold and off we went to Lowe’s.  We used about $500 worth of sandpaper/polyurethane/brushes/masks/so on.  Not a minimal expenditure, but much more tolerable than the $2k-$3k cost to hire it out.  We also rented a Varathane EZ-V ($40/day from Lowes).   The sander is very DIY friendly, i.e. it won’t grind a hole through your house like the professional models.  But the downside is that its SLOW.  We started at 9pm on a Friday and the sanding portion alone took the entire weekend.

houseupdate8_August on the first pass with the sander – it takes 3 total.

The big EZ-V can’t reach into corners or right up to the wall, so we got creative on those areas.  I mostly did this part while August wrangled the EZ-V.  My tools of choice were, an orbital sander, a weird “Mouse” sander, and then just plain sanding by hand.  Oh, the massive pile of sand paper we went though.  And our floors are pine, I can’t imagine how much you would need for a harder wood like oak.

photo 2That wild look in my eye is from doing this exact thing for HOURS

Then  I applied four coats of polyurethane over the next week, one coat per day.. I used semi-gloss for the first two coats and frankly, things were looking TERRIBLE.  Like, tears in your pillow terrible.  Like, what was so wrong with the old finish?  Why did we not just leave well enough alone and buy a lot of rugs?

For the third and fourth coats, I switched to a satin finish.  MUCH much better.  1000% better.  Whew.

In between each coat, I also sanded the entire floor by hand with 120 grit sandpaper (just to scuff it up and smooth out bubbles).  Sanding was followed by vacuuming and then a once-over with a mineral-spirits-soaked rag to pick up dust.  Note to self: next time, figure out a way to rent something to do that scuff sanding.  I’m SURE something exists.

It was truly difficult task. I had the appropriate mask but the fumes were still gross. Knees and back totally wrecked.  Muscles sore everywhere.  In the end, the results are pretty good.  No, its not perfect.  And we saved, oh $2500 or so by doing it ourselves.  That’s nice and all but I’m not sure it was worth it.  Seriously, it was work.  In hindsight, the thought of spending $3k to have some other guy just handle it?  (Alternate note to self: next time, figure out a way to earn $3k extra and skip this mess.)

Truly though, we do love to Do It Ourselves, no matter how hard the work it.

Having used an oil-based finish, we then had to let the floors air out for about a WEEK.  And THEN we started moving in.  Nowadays, we’re mostly done with the moving portion, but all the things remain in a fairly chaotic state.  On a good day, the kitchen looks like this

:houseupdate6_Floors looking nice and satin-y, yes?

Whose bright idea was it to sell all of our furniture in Colorado before we moved back?  Me?  A questionable decision for sure.  Yes, in theory it made sense to dump all that junky furniture and not move it all the way across the country.  But the reality is now this:  We don’t own any drawers.  No dresser.  No desk.  And I am the slowest decision maker on the planet, so one month later, we still have very few drawers.

We are using a simple cardboard box system in place of a dresser.  You know what, it works just fine.

IMG_1544.JPG (2)From left to right: shorts drawer, t-shirt drawer, pajama drawer

So, my future holds a lot of overly considered purchases.  I’m terribly indecisive, frugal, and picky.  Thus far, I have procured two rugs and one sofa, although only one rug has arrived. Here it is, my happy space in a sea of insanity.

houseupdate7_The new rug

A wider frame would show approximately 10 million legos scattered on the floor.  So yeah, the house interior needs a lot of work and a lot of organizational bins.  But we do have nice floors.


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About Mary-Hall

loyal southerner, exceedingly frugal, compulsive DIYer

6 responses to “DIY Floor Refinishing and Other Moving Adventures”

  1. Keith says :

    Awesome job, guys! The floors look great!

  2. mylittlesweetpotato says :

    I got tired just reading about how much work went into the floors. They do look beautiful. I am proud of you guys for sticking with it. We sold all our furniture when we left Colorado too and I feel like I know exactly how you feel. Any chance you can take a Momcation to Colorado and see us while we are here this summer? Take a long weekend. We miss you!

  3. playboy メンズ says :


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