Sand it like you mean it…

Bedroom FloorsI didn’t mean to disappear on you for that long. A mix of allergies, sinus infections, and bronchitis has decided to attack me this spring. On a completely separate thread from the intent of this blog, if anyone has any suggestions on remedies- I am all ears!

Now back to my fixer upper!

One of the first projects we decided to tackle were the floors. On a very cold weekend last winter and after much research on the youtube, we rented a floor sander.

IMG_1997We rented from a local rental center, because support local! Also, they offer weekend deals where you pay for 1 day of use but get to keep for the entire weekend. Enter my visions of sanding the floors throughout all 1,300 square feet of my house, minus the bathroom and kitchen.

From extensive youtube research I decided we wanted a floor sander that had several round orbital pads. This type of sander was suppose to be more newbie friendly because it was not as aggressive and was close to foolproof of gouging out your floor.

I am now convinced that this type of sander was sent to me for some sort of punishment for my overconfidence in doing all things, or at least in redoing my floors.

Let’s begin Saturday morning at 7 a.m., David and I arrive to pickup our sander. We were greeted by the owner trying to convince us this was not the type of floor sander we needed. He informed us that it would be much more difficult to use because it was not as aggressive. I argued that from my googling I was sure that this was the product we needed. I would like to say to this man, I still appreciate the fact that he had that much confidence in us, it was flattering. And we should have listened.

Shoot ahead to about the 8 a.m. hour in our house. We have unloaded the sander, have extension cords connected, and realized we have done 0 prep for the space.


We began in our bedroom, and spoiler, only finished our bedroom that weekend. We got to work lifting toe molding and repairing small holes in the floor. Then realized we had sliding doors for the closet. I have a deep, passionate hatred for sliding doors in general. Who only wants access to half of their closet at a time?! But these in particular take the cake for my hatred. They were severely scratching the floors and were enclosed in a weird molding that did not allow for you to simply lift the door from the track for the removal. In my frustration, I took a reciprocating saw to them and just half ass hacked them out of my way. The picture shows David starting to cut the doors. I ended up taking/ripping the saw out of his hands because I wanted to be the one to finish the doors. And Yes, I did hit my head on them a few times that weekend. Deep, passionate hatred.

By about lunch time we were ready to actually begin sanding. Let’s do this!

I started in the closet because I thought that I should test my skill in the least conspicuous place. That was one of the few good ideas I had that weekend. And honestly, it was not my own. Several other wiser individuals suggested that to me. Thank you wiser people 🙂


Let’s jump ahead to 3 p.m. I was still sanding the closet. To be clear, sanding your floor requires several rounds of sanding with varying grits. You begin with a coarse grit, move to an intermediate grit, and finish with, well, a finishing grit. At 3 p.m., I was still working on that first round of grit and had removed about 2×2 square foot of finish from the floor.

Here was my problem. I was not changing out my sanding pads regularly. For anybody thinking about refinishing their floors, take this tip, do not be stingy with your sandpaper. Change them out regularly. Your back, brain, and general well being will be so much happier.

I miscounted the amount of sanding pads the rental place had given me and thought I needed to really make each one of those sheets last. By the evening, I had only first round sanded 1 strip of floor in our room.

That night I had planned to get together with my bestie. Being utterly exhausted, I had decided I was just going to give up on the floors. I would have drinks with my friend and spend my Sunday trying to fix my body from the abuse of the sander. She and her husband are also doing work on their house so she could relate to my stress. She let me know that night that sanding almost broke her as well. That made me feel mildly better.


Shoot ahead to Sunday morning. David and I get up and decide we are going to give the floors another go. (For the record. This is a regular reoccurrence with me. I think I am going to give up on something only to realize after some sleep that maybe my previous decision was a little too hasty.) So! We came up with a new game plan and decided it was worth a shot since we still had the sander. We were going to sand quickly and hope that subsequent rounds of sanding would remove what we missed.

We begin our plan and go to change out our sanding pads only to realize I had severely miscounted the amount of pads we had. Yay! So much time and stress could have been saved the previous day. No time to harp on the past, we’re moving forward. We had quantity of sanding pads on our side and were no longer afraid to use them!

Sunday as a whole went much better than Saturday. We got through 2 rounds of sanding. We were ready to knock out the last round of finishing when one of the orbital wheels fell off of the sander.

Again I tell you- support local. I did not stress because I had a strong suspicion that rental agency would comp us another day to finish the job.

Monday morning I drove up to the agency and explained what happened. They immediately offered for me take another machine that was in proper working order. They even offered that it did not have to be that day if it did not work for our schedule.

I did take it on Monday because I was ready to knock this job out. That night we filled gaps in the floors with a wood paste concoction and did a final round of sanding. Woop!


After this ordeal we seriously considered hiring someone to finish our floors. We ultimately decided not to. There is something to be said about doing the work yourself (within certain means of course!). We also realized a lot of errors and figured the first round should be the worst and the next attempt should go smoother.


The conclusion to this is that we did finish the floors in our bedroom! We sealed them with an oil based sealer. We did not feel confident enough in our ability to actually stain the floors and also like the look of just the sealer. The oil base brings out the warmth of the wood and adds a nice sheen. Ultimately, I would give us a B on this project. There were a lot of hick-ups, but we finished and are happy with the product. We also learned a lot and now know how to improve on the next attempt!



2 thoughts on “Sand it like you mean it…

  1. Way to go!! This is seriously impressive, Erin; I wouldn’t have made it out of that closet.

    Also, my allergies have been especially terrible this year. I tried a Neti pot but couldn’t commit to using it regularly. I find the Claritin 24-hour dissolving tabs work really well for me, and don’t have any side effects or “medicine head” that I get from other allergy meds.

    1. Awe, thank you!! I am not going to lie, we were pretty impressed with ourselves as well 🙂

      Thank you for the tips! I started using apple cider vinegar last week and have found that to be really helpful. Quite disgusting for 30 seconds, but helpful for most of the day after.

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