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Posted: 1/1/2007 8:31:38 PM EST
My house was built in the 50s and has hardwood floors covered in carpet. How big of a job is it to redo them?
Link Posted: 1/1/2007 8:56:46 PM EST
Originally Posted By 45B10:
My house was built in the 50s and has hardwood floors covered in carpet. How big of a job is it to redo them?

It's not that hard although it's time-consuming and Back-breaking yet the finished product is very rewarding...HowYou do have to rent those sanders!
Link Posted: 1/2/2007 4:21:22 AM EST
Check to see what kind of wood it is.

I had one house that I could see from the basement the wood floors and it turned out to be pine or fir.

That was too soft for where my office chair was with no mat to protect it.

All I did was pull the faded old carpet out and spent about 3 hours on my hands and knees to pull all the staples out and just left the floor as is.
Link Posted: 1/2/2007 5:00:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By MysteryDriver:

Originally Posted By 45B10:
My house was built in the 50s and has hardwood floors covered in carpet. How big of a job is it to redo them?

It's not that hard although it's time-consuming and Back-breaking yet the finished product is very rewarding...

How old are you?
You do have to rent those sanders!

Yep. It depends, of course, on the condition of the floor and the underlayment (what's under the floor). The problem with carpet-covered hardwood floors is that the tackstrip nails will have made a LOT of holes around the perimeter of the floor, and there's really no way to completely hide those regardless of your skill. Most won't notice them, but you will just because you know they are there.

Also, depending on the age of the wood floor itself, it's very likely you'll be doing a butt load of sanding to remove high spots. As our friend above said, this is back breaking, tedious work, and you have to be very detailed and diligent to get it right - if you don't, you won't know it until your finish is applied, at which time it will be all-too obvious and you'll have to either live with it or start anew.

I'll give you a very basic breakdown of the process, and you can use this information to determine if you have the skills and desire to tackle this yourself.

After your carpet and pad is removed, carefully inspecting the floor and keeping detailed notes is essential. Look at it from all angles and under all lighting conditions. Get a GOOD set of knee pads and get intimate with it. You're looking for high spots, damage, or excessive/lack of spacing between the boards and around the perimeter. You'll probably have to replace at least some boards, which means you need to identify the species of the wood, method of installation, and type of connectivity (tongue and groove, butt joints, interlock, and etc). With the age of your house, it's likely that you'll have to modify a little to match the installation techniques and connectivity of the new boards, but a little creative thinking and patience makes this possible. It's a little bit of a chore, but done right and you'll never be able to tell the difference between old and new pieces.

If you've decided it is so far doable and you've replaced the boards as needed, it's time to begin sanding. Sanding is going to do two, major things absolutely necessary to your end product: First, it removes the existing finish and takes the old floor down to bare wood to prepare it for the finish; and second, it removes any high spots. The agressiveness of your sanding is a matter of the floor's condition. You have to rent a sanding machine, but usually you'll rent two of them.

The first is a big belt sander that is typically fitted with 60- or 80-grit cloth. You can rent these monsters at Home Depot for about $50 - $60 a day, and you just walk behind it being careful to NEVER go against the grain of the wood at any cost. This will level the floor and remove all finish. The corners are done with a hand belt sander and a whole bunch of elbow grease with a sanding block and 60- or 80-grit paper.

Once you're down to bare wood and you are 100% CERTAIN your high spots are removed, you'll change out to a stand-up orbital sander. And, like the belt sander step, corners are done with hand sanders and sanding blocks and a whole bunch of sweat and patience. This sander will get the floor ready for its new finish by working down in grit to remove more material and continue "floating" the surface so it's perfectly smooth. Typically, you'll begin with the same grit or one grit higher than you left off with in the belt sanding step.

This process goes something like this: Start orbital sanding with 80- or 120- grit. Now, vacuum every single speck of dust from the floor, and use the wood filler to fill in the imperfections. Let that dry, then go back and fill them in again because the putty will shrink as it dries. Once it is 100% dry, it's time to once again rent the orbital sander. This time, you'll be using 180-ish grit paper - do the entire floor, including the corners. Vacuum again. Then go to the next grit, which should be 220-ish. Vacuum. Then move on to a lesser abrasive grit, such as 400-ish. Vacuum, and inspect the floor and especially the corners to make 100% certain you have ZERO swirl marks anywhere.

Don't screw that step up! Get on your hands and knees and inspect every single square inch of that floor. ANY swirl mark, even tiny ones, will stand out like a sore thumb once your new finish is applied. Inspect all your putty plugs again. Go over your notes and double-check you've addressed each area and issue properly. There is no, "Eh, good enough" in this step. If it isn't perfect, it will look like shit. Pay special attention to the corners, as those are the areas most likely to not be perfect simply because they require so much work. If there is any doubt at all, go over it again and again with your highest grit paper until it's perfect. Straight edge your known high spots.

Once you are satisfied it is beyond perfection, every single speck of dust in the entire room has to be removed. A good shop vac, amazing attention to detail, a handbroom, amazing attention to detail, a tack cloth, amazing attention to detail, and some amazing attention to detail in this step will determine if your finish will be flawless or look like shit. There is no such thing as too much cleaning after sanding.

Finally, you're ready for finishing, which should be done exactly as the instructions say to do - there are too many different types and styles for anyone to give you the proper application method without knowing your floor's wood and the finish of choice.

This is one of those DIY projects that requires both braun and brain, muscle power and diligence, a little creativity and a lot of patience. You're not going to get it done in a weekend. You need to go slowly and methodicaly and pay attention to details. You'll be able to "feel" the floor through the sanders and know when it is perfectly flat. That takes time, so you can't rush anything. If your budget says something like, "I can only rent this sander one time for one day," then forget about it for now and save up some money. There's no use doing it if you're going to do it wrong. You WILL regret it.

But if you take your time and never feel rushed, you can most definately do it yourself. It's all in the prep work. The better the prep, the better the result in the end. On a difficulty scale of 10, this project is a 6. However, on a detail and patience scale, it is a 9. be prepared to take at least TWICE the time you think it will take. But in the end, you'll be saving about $1,200 depending on the size of the room and can brag to everyone that YOU did it.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
Link Posted: 1/2/2007 9:11:17 PM EST
have it professionally refinished, it's the way to go.
Link Posted: 1/3/2007 8:28:41 AM EST

Originally Posted By Rich219:
have it professionally refinished, it's the way to go.


Just that simple.
Link Posted: 1/3/2007 1:47:36 PM EST
I wouldn't spend the money to have it professionally done. I re-did my whole, house ~1400 square feet, and I learned a few things. You can handle the job with one or two people. It will take a long time and it is back-breaking, but worth every bit, and typically you save a ton of money doing it yourself.
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