Look, I warned you. I advised you. I begged and implored you not to. I got obstreperous, and borderline bossy about the whole thing. I told you that under no circumstances do you want to sand a wood floor with nothing but hand sanders, remember?
Gather ’round the internet, brothers and sisters. Lay your hands on the hard drive. Feel the energy I’m projecting out into the ether. Listen to me and you’ll be saved, praise Intel! Don’t ever sand a floor with hand sanders. It’s something stupid.
And still and all, here we are. I done did it again.
You can justify almost any behavior if you dial in your thinker-upper hard enough. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. What the hell did Shakespeare know about refinishing floors? Not much, I’ll bet. And Hamlet was a tragedy, remember? Sanding the floor with a belt sander, followed by umpty-nine passes with an orbital sander gets filed under: comedy, clowns.
It’s just dumb, not tragic. You do it because, you know, the finish is practically worn off already, and the fir flooring is pretty soft, and the room isn’t that big, and dragging a rental sander up the stairs is no picnic, and the rental house is closed on the weekend, and several other good, honest lies you mumble under your breath while fixing to do it anyway. Besides, if refusing to do things just because they were dumb caught on, TikTok would be out of business overnight. I’m just going with the flow, really.
So we sanded the floor with hand sanders. It’s brutal work. In case you haven’t caught on yet, I can’t recommend it. But when it was done, it didn’t look half bad. I do own better sanders than most folks. I’ve got a 6″ diameter random orbit sander with a vacuum attachment that covers a lot of ground in a hurry, but it’s still a fool’s errand.
I went rooting around in the basement and found a gallon of wood stain left over from a restaurant remodeling job from thirty years ago. Not only can’t you get this color anymore, the manufacturer doesn’t make the product anymore. But Ben Moore Special Walnut looked like we picked it out special. And the price was right.
There’s plenty of advice extant about finishing a raw wood floor like this. The wood is too thirsty and splotches easily. That leads to reading the labels on wood conditioners, and listening to old-timers on bulletin boards telling you to thin out shellac and put a whisper thin coat on first, and then stain. Then again I got my lessons on floor stain application from guys who were old timers when today’s crop of old-timers were infants. Their advice for most everything about construction was pretty much the same: GO FASTER, OR YOU’RE FIRED.
So I avoid splotching by moving so quickly my wife can’t photograph me clearly. It looks like the walls are moving fast, too. Must have been a serendipitously timed earthquake at the time. We have lots of them here in Maine, apparently.
The baseboard isn’t painted yet, because there’s no point before the floor is done. The rest of the room is painted completely, though, because there’s no point in finishing the floor before the room is painted. Scheduling jobs is easy when you work alone. Once subcontractors are involved, it gets dicey. You can’t tell them to go away and come back if the job’s not ready yet, because they’re forgetful and only remember the “go away” part. So everything gets done in the wrong order or it doesn’t get done at all. This room is a luxury for me. It’s empty and I can just work in it sensibly. Sensible except for the sand the floor with hand sanders part, I mean.
Once the stain dried, I let the floor have it with some more scavenged gloss quick-dry varnish. You paint it on around the perimeter with a small brush, and then fill in the center with a lambswool pad on a pole. It’s another operation that requires you to work quickly, because if you falter, it gets uber-sticky in a hurry, and shows lap marks.
Tomorrow, before and after pics!