Sunday, May 15, 2011

Home renovations with small children

We move into our new house next Saturday. We had planned on just moving in, but then we thought...while the house is empty, why don't we refinish the wood floors? The first floor is 1800 square feet. About 1/3 of that space (kitchen & dining room) needed a full sand down to bare wood. The rest (living room, entry hall, library, and half bathroom) needed just a buff & recoat.

With three small children, doing home renovations isn't easy. With the help of friends to watch the older two and a very cooperative baby (floor sanders are the BEST white noise machines ever!), we were able to keep up a decent pace. We even had a few sleepovers in our empty house so that we could both work at night while the children slept.

We pulled out the old carpet in the dining room. The floors underneath had the original shellac and were in decent condition. There was one section with old termite damage that had been patched up with plywood. We tore that out, repaired and reinforced the subfloor, and laid new flooring. In the picture below, you can see the patch on the left and the first pass with the floor sander to the right.

After going over the floors once with the drum sander & edger, they looked like this.

Who would ever paint a room the exact color of baby poop? Ugh. I'm definitely changing the color ASAP.

We did a total of four passes with the drum sander (50-60-60-100 grits). Usually it would take less, but there were a lot of uneven areas. We then did two passes with a buffer using 80 & 180 grit sanding screens. Finally, we hand-sanded and scraped in the corners and edges as needed.

Yesterday we buffed the entire main floor, vacuumed, and laid the first coat of polyurethane. For this, we had to tag-team since we couldn't have any children underfoot. Eric did the first two tasks and I applied the poly. It was messy, stinky work and I had to wear a respirator. But the floors look wonderful. We'll lay two more coats of polyurethane tomorrow and Tuesday, buffing between coats.


  1. refinishing floors is one of my very favorite things to do. Good idea to do it before you move in! We didn't do that that I have to rent a PODS to hold all of our furniture this summer. Congrats!

  2. You guys are amazing! Great job!

  3. I love it that I'm not the only crazy person willing to renovate with little kids under foot. My parents built (with their own hands) the house I grew up in when I was 2... so I was always running around the construction site... maybe it's genetic. Are your parents really handy too?

  4. Yes, very handy parents. We built our own house when I was 14 (with the exception of hiring out a few things like excavating). I wasn't exactly thrilled to be slave labor at that point, but it did give me the knowledge that I could do a lot of things myself if I wanted to. And now I'm totally into renovating and DIY and all that good stuff.

  5. we live in an old house, and I woudl love to refinish the floors. unfortunately, not in good enough condition to be worth it. boo.

    but about the paint - are you paranoid about lead paint like I am? my house has painted trim everywhere, and we've tested a few spots where the doors had rubbed layers of paint off, or where the paint was chipping, and discovered, to my horror (but not surprise) that we have lead paint under there. abatement is expensive, and time to DIY right and safely is hard to come by. oh the joys of an older home...

  6. You amaze me with the things you accomplish. With a new baby too!

  7. Yeah for homeowners who are good stewards of their older homes! Boo for homeowners who suck at picking paint colors :)

  8. I'm totally in awe of this undertaking you guys are doing. Can't wait to see the updates! Good luck with the move.

  9. Nice one! Do you mind if we quote/reference you sometime? We haven't start as yet but we'll be blogging about hardwood refinishing services fairly often.


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