The One Thing I'm Glad Someone Told Me Before I Refinished My Hardwood Floors
There's an easier, less expensive option out there.
When I bought a teeny-tiny, bold-in-a-bad-way cottage, the previous owners had parceled out the floor refinishing process. Because of this, my five-room house had five different floor finishes: some dark, glossy, and goopy with polyurethane; others light, dull, and very stained. I had three weeks to fix the patchwork-flooring problem. Clearly refinishing hardwood floors is not a project to be done in phases. Naturally, I called a refinisher who quoted me a staggering $8,000 to restore my hardwood floors. He promised that he would take care of everything and that there would be no honey-toned or red finishes only a pure, warm brown. He left and I cried. Luckily, my friend Heather recommended with a shrug that I should just paint them white. I thought, "Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? I can handle painting my floors." Besides Heather, most people thought I was crazy. "White floors! Think of the dirt you'll have to clean up." I wasn't crazy; I was on a budget. Here's everything I learned after spending about $500 and two weeks painting the floors white throughout my house.
My House Looks So Much Bigger
I have white floors and white walls so you can't quite tell where the floors end and the walls begin. This trick makes each room look so much more expansive than it really is. It also feels a lot brighter and porch-like.
Minimize the Carpentry
Internet research instructs to remove the toe kicks and baseboards. Afraid that I would damage them in the process and dubious that I would be able to reattach them, I left them on and it turned out fine.
Rent a Floor Sander
You have to sand off the top layer of polyeurethane to get the paint and primer to adhere. A hand sander is way too time-consuming and won't do the job (I tried). Go all out and rent an electric floor sander and heavy grade sand paper from either Home Depot or Lowes. I actually found the best deal at a local machinery rental company. It's scary at first, but then it's exhilarating to see that top layer of grime come up in an instant. Be sure to wear a mask because there will be saw dust everywhere – including your nose, mouth, and lungs.
Splurge on Good Primer & Paint
As Heather recommended, I went for Farrow & Ball's specially formulated floor primer and floor paint in Shaded White No. 201. It only took me two coats of primer and one coat of paint to cover the floors completely. I waited 24 hours between each coat. Less expensive paint typically requires more coats, which in turn takes more of your time and money.
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Give the Floors Time to Cure
I could only wait one week before moving in and I wish I had allowed for two weeks to let it fully set.
Don't Worry About Stains
It's paint and you can always paint over the worst stains.