In our “about” page on this blog, one of the things I hoped was that we’ll inspire. This past week, I heard from a friend that we’d done just that. After seeing our posts on refinishing the hardwood, they were going to also take it on in their own home. So we sent some texts back and forth. I advised and encouraged and they went for it. I got some texts while they were in the process and all seemed to be going well. A day later, though, I got a text saying that the staining came out terribly and could feel the frustration and disappointment.
We’ve been in the position in (many) DIY projects where we’re over our heads and overwhelmed. In the past, Erin and I have been very fortunate to have our families’ experience to back us up. Erin’s folks and my dad have put in countless hours providing advice and labor on projects. It’s why we’re as confident as we are to take on the projects we are.
So, hearing that a friend of mine was in dire straits, after undertaking a project I assured him could be undertaken, gave me a sense of responsibility to try to help fix it.
A couple things had gone wrong in their project. First, they’d rented a drum sander (basically a big belt sander) to do the stripping, something I’ve never done because I’ve heard they can be tricky to use and that proved to be true in this case. The floors didn’t get an even sanding and that really shows when you stain. The second problem was that they’d been directed to use a really fast-drying stain (not by me) and that ended up causing streaks of darker stain where brushing overlapped.
So, they started over. This time, though, they rented an upright orbital sander. An orbital is going to give you a lot of coverage, but is much easier to use. Instead of that big drum/belt, the sander uses several five inch discs. I had read these worked really well but, again, had never used one. I had nothing to fear. Being overly cautious, we started out with a 50-grit sandpaper because I thought the 36-grit sounded scary. Soon, though, we could see that the 50 wasn’t cleaning up the chatter marks the drum sander had left. We needed to take more material off the floors. So, we loaded up the 36 and went to town. And boy did we! Soon we had the floors nearly stripped.
Seeing Erin’s success with just roughing up the surface rather than stripping it down to the bare wood, that’s what we did upstairs. I will say, the orbital works better on entirely level floors than the ones upstairs out at the farm.
Downstairs, I made better progress on the maple:
But, alas, I ran out of sanding discs before the floor ran out of varnish and stains. That project will have to be on hold for a bit. But that sander is totally coming back out. Especially after I saw the photo my friend sent of his newly re-re-finished floor!