- Polyurethane Applicator
- Paint Tray
- Mineral Spirits
- 150-grit Sandpaper
- Broom Handle
- Gloves, Mask, and Rags
Before you begin staining, make extra sure that the floor is spotless. Use cheese cloth to pick up the dirt that you can't see. You don't want anything getting into the stain or poly.
Step 1 - Prepare. Put on your gloves and mask. Clean the polyurethane applicator with mineral spirits. Make sure to tug on the lambs wool and throw away any that falls out. Next, follow the directions on the side of the stain can regarding stirring it. Then pour some stain into the paint tray. Screw the broom handle into the stain pad.
Step 2 - Stain. Load a little stain onto the stain pad - don't have it dripping off the pad. Then, dab and squish the pad towards the top of the tray to get the excess off. Apply the stain to the floor using a mopping motion and going with the grain of the wood. Since we don't have Go-Go Gadget arms, only stain a small section of floor at a time. Make sure to mop the stain really well and don't leave any puddles or drips. Keep staining the floor until it is all covered. Pay careful attention to the areas where the stain overlaps other areas and blend it in well. You can use rags to help blend it in. Allow the stain to fully cure and dry according to the label instructions.
I chose to only apply one coat of stain since it was dark walnut. However, you can repeat the staining process and add a second coat to darken the color, if you choose.
Step 3 - Polyurethane. Screw the applicator onto the broom handle and pour poly into a clean paint tray. Load some poly onto the applicator. It is better to have a thin layer of poly than a sloppy mess. Using the same mopping method as with the stain, apply the poly with the grain. Make sure to keep the applicator wet and maintain a wet edge. Brush the edge of the poly back into the wet area. Be careful when placing the applicator onto the floor - if you don't brush easily, you will be able to see where the applicator was placed. If you notice a glob of lambs wool (which happened to me) use your gloved finger to swipe it up and then go back over the area with the applicator to blend. And it is almost impossible to apply poly with a flawless finish. You might notice small brush marks or a stray lambs wool. Trust me, these will only be noticed by you.
Step 4 - Dry and Recoat. My instructions say allow 4 hours to dry before applying the next coat, or if after 12 hours lightly sand first. I tend to air on the side of caution and lightly sanded the floor with 150-grit sandpaper between each coat. Reapply only when the previous coat is no longer tacky. I like at least 3 coats, 4 is better if you have the time. After the last coat, allow the poly to fully dry and cure, usually about 72 hours, before walking on it or moving in furniture.
And now, some after pictures. Drum roll please....
Ta-da! Goodbye carpet square, hello hardwood! I love the darker, richer walnut stain color compared to the used-to-be honey oak color. The floors are amazingly gorgeous and the flow of the house is greatly improved with the new single finish as compared to the hardwood and carpet mix we used to have. I could not be a happier DIYer. And, I will confess, the floor is not perfect because I'm not a professional. However, not one person has noticed the few minor "flaws", like a stray lambs wool hair.
This project was easy - just like mopping the floor. The hardest part was dealing with the fumes (they are strong, even with the low voc) and trying to live in the house with no kitchen, living room, dining room, hallway, foyer or sun room. But we managed and now have some kick-awesome hardwood floors that we DIYed completely and saved a ton of money on in the process.
So, what do you think? Any one have experience refinishing hardwood floors? Are you thinking of installing and/or refinishing hardwood?
P.S. - Check out the hardwood floor how-to's and before pics.