The Floor Project Has Begun!

Refinishing the hardwood floors in my 1960 ranch -- with before and after photos.

Dateline: November 5, 2020

My hardwood floors were scheduled to be refinished the week of November 10.

Two weeks ago, however, the contractor called to say he was moving my job up due to other jobs being delayed.

Yikes! Given that my business is located in my house, it meant some furious planning — everything from moving the furniture out and renting a hotel room to scheduling the movers to move carry everything back in.

A huge milestone — for me and for the house

I put off doing the floors for a long time. I had read a how-to article in Handyman Magazine that said anyone could refinish hardwood floors. You simply needed the tips and tricks from the pro they interviewed — who happened to be a woman.

I cut that article from the magazine and hung on to it all the years since . . . but suffice to say, I never made any move toward refinishing the floors.

The fact of the matter is, the project felt overwhelming. And costly.

But, a friend pushed me to take the first step by getting a price. So I did. The estimate was half what I thought it would be, so I said “Let’s do it!”

The biggest part of the job: Moving everything out

The week before I had to get all the furniture out was a little overwhelming as I had tons of “don’t forgets” running through my head.

I finally sat down and wrote out a plan, including a Tetris-like diagram of how I’d fit most of the furniture into the kitchen.

Then, I spent the entire weekend moving stuff out. It actually wasn’t that bad.

The contractor said I had to remove everything, including curtains and pictures, as he didn’t want anything to fall on the floors once they were coated with the urethane.

On Sunday afternoon, two friends came over and helped move the big stuff. I removed the wifi router, unhooked the Internet cable, loaded up my car with everything I needed for a week in the hotel . . . and we were off.

Rough sand

The contractor was a little worried that the damage to the wood might not sand out. There were black spots left by my old dogs (long gone to the Rainbow Bridge), other more serious stains from the former owner’s dog, nicks and scratches, and holes from where people had drilled through the wood for TV cables and the like.

Living room – before

His first recommendation was that he do a rough sand and then go from there.

He said, “Come back after 2:00 this afternoon.”

When I came back and saw the floors, I almost cried.

living room — post rough sand

The contractor was really happy, too. Most of the spots had come up, along with the scratches and things. He did have to do some patch work to replace the boards that had holes in them and the ones with really dark stains.

He was also concerned with a few wear areas in the hall.

I said, “You know, this house is 60 years old. I don’t mind that the floors show their age.”

He said, “Good. I can put in new boards, but then they’ll be lighter than the original boards and it will show once the stain is down.”

And the first coat is down!

Finally, after four days of sanding, patching, and another final sand and vacuum, the contractor put down the first coat of urethane.

We went with a satin look vs. a high-gloss (or basketball court, as a friend said). The contractor said the satin finish will hold up longer and also hides imperfections.

When I saw the first coat, I was stunned. For months now, I’ve been trying to picture what my new floors would look like; I had been looking at ugly for so long, I couldn’t even imagine them being beautiful.

I stood there looking at them, and after taking a few photos, I had to leave — or be asphyxiated by urethane fumes!

living room – 1st coat of urethane

As an aside, the front door in the photo above — it’s original to the house and is a lovely example of mid-century modern. I love the diamond window pane!

I’ve not done anything to alter the footprint of the house — which is a basic rectangle. I’ve also kept everything either similar to what was in the house originally (see baseboard heaters above — made in USA) or with the same feel of a 1960s starter home.

Here is the hall that leads to the bath, TV room, master bedroom, and my office. The door in the foreground . . . that’s a whole blog post by itself. It’s the coat closet.

hallway – 1st coat

Final Result: Amazing transformation!

Each person who came to my house in the last few weeks, said the same thing when they learned I was refinishing the floors: “You’ll have a brand new house.”

I’m very happy to say, everyone was right!

Walking through my rooms and seeing the lovely finish makes my heart sing. The white oak floor boards with the natural urethane coating bring life, light, and character to my house.

living room – final coat

Suffice to say, I’m thrilled with the outcome and am very glad I finally have this project crossed off the list.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be; the worst part was simply the labor of moving everything out. (Well, living and working in a hotel room isn’t much fun, but I can’t complain.)

Flooring contractor: Xtreme Flooring LLC.

Next up: Finding a Made in USA, mid-century, wood-burning fireplace insert. Vermont Castings is made in the USA, but the one plain surround I found is a tad colonial.

Have a resource? Please post in the comment section. Thank you!


Leave a comment  •  1 comments

Holly Markham

I'm glad to see what beautiful floors you have now! It was worth the effort!


Dianna Huff

Hi Holly -- Wow! Thanks for stopping by. You have been on my mind because my next purchase will be the fireplace insert. I need a wood burning Made-in-USA one!