Sunday, April 6, 2008

Some Things Are Better Left to the Pros

Have you ever started a project and realized that you really had no idea what you were in for? Welcome to our weekend.

Our $8 do-it-yourself oak wood flooring (removed from a lakeside cottage destined for demolition) was finally in need of refinishing. We'd gotten a quote from a pro last year, and it was a bit pricey. So we talked about doing it ourselves. The Farmer was a finish carpenter in his former life, and is not afraid of hard work. He likes power tools. (Me? Not so much.)

This weekend we decided to go for it. How hard can it be?

You rent a sander.

You get your shop vac handy.

You sand everything down, vacuum up the dust and refinish. Right? Not hard.

The trouble comes when you realize that the hardware stores have taken all the danger (a.k.a. effectiveness) out of the sanders that they rent out to people. We sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded (getting the picture here?). We sanded until our arms ached. Well, at least my arms ached. Then we figured out that it was easier to let go of the handle, bend over, and pretend that it was a big hand-held sander. Both hands.

We went back to buy more special sandpaper. Twice. We got out The Farmer's hand held random orbital sanders to do the edges with. How ARE you supposed to do the edges with those big sanders? We bought a new sander when one of the little sanders (long past it's prime, I'll admit) broke. We went to ANOTHER hardware store and rented another floor sander. That one was easier to handle, but not much more effective. We finally broke out the big guns--his hand held belt sander. That was the best tool of them all.

When we were finished there was dust everywhere. When I stepped on the living room carpet, the cloud of dust that poofed up almost choked me. My parents kindly came over as we were finishing up and ripped up the carpet and carried it out. (It's time for a change for that, too.)

The whole sanding process took from late Friday afternoon until sundown Saturday night. After that came cleanup and staining and then bedtime!

I think the worst is over, although we've spent all day trying to avoid stepping on the newly stained floor (and it is in the center of the house). Tomorrow will be varnishing and varnishing and varnishing some more. And more cleanup, as the dust floated throughout the house.

Some things are better left to the pros.


  1. Oh, man...I feel your pain.
    Q. How many 'easy-peasy' projects have we done?
    A. None...they all start out easy, but never seem to stay that way for long!

    But, the floors are beautiful, so yay FitS team!

  2. Oh Lona, I feel your pain! I'm hoping this project is completely wrapped up and furniture has been replaced, now that it's the next weekend. We have done this ourselves twice. Two different houses. Yes, it's a TON of work. We figured that the first time was our learning curve and we'd better do it ourselves the second time since we knew all the tricks! Because of the floor plan of this house, we were able to drape off the rooms needing to be refinished and still get around our house another way, which was a huge blessing. We did it in the summer, with an elaborate dust collection/fans in the windows thingie that my dh rigged up. But there was still a tremendous amount of dust. I was so relieved when that project was completed!! I know you are too!


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