Wow I can’t tell you how happy I am to be waking up each morning to look at at my completely refinished hardwood floors.
I’ve had this inspiration image saved on my desktop for a year. It was EXACTLY how I wanted my floors to look in my home.
When we expanded and renovated our house almost ten years ago, we continued the red oak floors throughout the house. A seamless transition from room to room in community spaces has always appealed to me, and since the original house’s footprint had oak hardwood, it made sense to match it and continue it throughout. I opted for a natural finish back in 2008 and it looked great for a few years, but little did I know at the time the oil-based polyurethane that was used to protect them would yellow so dramatically over time. After a few years I began to hate my floors.
I replaced the carpet on my staircase with hardwood several years ago and stained the stairs dark, I shared the experience here. I even expressed that I would refinish my downstairs floors to match the staircase, but it took me SEVEN years to finally hire the crew that could get it done. How’s that for procrastination? :) I was motivated by the replacement of the carpet with engineered hardwood in the master and upstairs hallway and wanted the downstairs to match.
I’ll never again use real wood in a kitchen or bathroom, it’s just too risky with the water damage that can occur. In the Las Vegas houses, I’ve installed more modern products like wood look porcelain tile and luxury vinyl plank. I added the same waterproof vinyl plank in my studio above the garage.
But when it came to the 1300 square feet of hardwood flooring in the downstairs of my home I had to make a decision: either refinish them, replace them, or cover them with something else. Replacing them was cost prohibitive. No matter how great the new luxury vinyl plank wood look products are, covering my existing wood flooring with vinyl seemed a crime, so refinishing them was the best option.
Here’s how they look now that the job is complete:
When it came to the stain choice for the floors, I knew I wanted something in the Walnut or Jacobean family. I was adamant about not having any yellow or red undertones. My refinisher suggested one coat of Ebony which I balked at in the beginning. Black stain? What? But when he brought me a sample of Ebony and Jacobean on red oak floors, I was convinced the Ebony stain would give me what I wanted: a dark stain that masked the red undertones in the oak wood.
He brought me a sample of red oak with Jacobean and Ebony, both were close but the Jacobean had a hint of red to it. Not too noticeable, but he steered me toward the Ebony and I’m glad I went with it.
Above is the image of the stain sample on the bottom step of my staircase. Notice the difference between the bottom floor, the steps and the suggested stains, Jacobean on top and Ebony below. Seeing the difference made me decide to also have the staircase steps redone so that the stain was consistent between the downstairs floor and the hardwood steps to the second floor.
My floors had also suffered some damage over the last ten years, with dents in places and some significant wear and tear near the doors due to traffic, another reason I was anxious to have them refinished.
So here’s the basic process. After the furniture was all moved out, the crew came in with a machine sander and got to work, first with 36 grit, then followed up by a second sanding at 50 grit to removed the old polyurethane that was on the floor and get to the raw wood. Notice how much the oil based polyurethane had yellowed, that’s what was bugging me all these years!
As I mentioned, for consistency I also had the stairs sanded down so that the stain on the downstairs floors would match the stain on the hardwood steps.
After sanding it twice, they added a wood filler to the floor to fill in any dents or damage. Notice that I didn’t have to remove any baseboards! They were able to use the big sander for most of the floors, and hand sanders and scrapers next to the baseboards.
After the wood filler, the guys sanded a third time, this time with 100 grit and again with an orbital sander to make sure it was perfectly smooth.
Before the stain was applied they vacuumed the floors. Just before they applied the stain (with a garden sprayer like tool) they misted the floors with water to open up the pores so it would accept the ebony stain.
These pics were taken by the crew, sorry one is blurry, but it shows the machine with its attached pads that were used to apply a single coat of Ebony stain to the sanded red oak floors.
One the stain was dry it was time for the protective coat. They used a water based formula, one that won’t yellow like the one I had before. They applied three coats in a satin finish, buffing with light abrasion between the first and second coats.
There were places where the stain had splashed onto the baseboards, so all of the baseboards and stair risers needed repainted after the crew left, this was a huge chore. Props to Matt for tackling this project and making his way around the house with paintbrush and tape to cover any stain residue on the baseboards.
As I mentioned in the beginning we had the grueling task of completely moving out of the house so the work could be completed. All the furniture went either in the garage or the courtyard. My dining room table spent 10 days covered outside before it could be moved back in. Say hello to Matt about to move it back inside! Nice work sir. :)
As much as I love my new floors, what’s true is the darker stain shows every little thing. I admit the natural wood floors hid more dirt but I wanted dark so I’ve got to keep up with them. To do it, I give the floors a daily quick sweep with a Bona duster with a velcro microfiber cloth attached, it makes keeping the floors clean quick and easy.
The Ebony sheen was the right call, it gave me a rich dark stain on my floors, I also love the satin finish, it’s a very subtle sheen. It changes in depth too, darker in the evening…
… but lighter during the day. :)
You’ll recall I remodeled the powder room just a few weeks ago. Here’s a peek at the space with the new dark stained floors.
I’m not allowed to put any rugs down for two weeks until the protective coat fully cures. We’re slowly moving furniture back in, but with my vow to not have anything come inside that isn’t meaningful. We made a pact, if it’s clutter or simply unimportant, it doesn’t come back into the home. As a result, my garage is filled with a lot of things, and it will take me weeks to donate or sell it all. But I started piecing back together the community spaces, first the family room.
My teal sectional sofa and the trio of mirrors I love, but not the inherited chair that used to sit in the left corner, so I’ll be shopping for a cozy reading chair to replace it. For now, that corner sits empty.
We’re enjoying the barely furnished nature of the house, it feels brand new again. Cozy and comfortable, but also like a breath of fresh air.
I’m inspired to make more changes such as swapping out light fixtures and bringing in some new rugs and art. Stay tuned.