How to refinish wood floors – part 2

Hi! Welcome to part 2 and the reveal of our wood floors! I am super excited to share part 2, how to refinish wood floors, for you because honestly, it was a huge project for my husband and I and it is very rewarding for me to share this with our readers and receive your awesome support. That being said, we are so glad we are done and we LOVE the flooring now.

If you missed Part 1: how to remove carpet and prep your floors, you can check it out here.

How to refinish wood floors like the pros for CHEAP! -

I left you yesterday with this image of our clean, prepped floors. (See part 1 of the tutorial here)
After you’re all prepped and ready to go, you will mop the floors fully to condition the wood. I read that this step opens the wood grain preparing it to be stained. Make sure not to completely saturate the floors, just a light mopping will do just fine. Wait at least 30 minutes before applying stain until wood is completely dry.
Once the floor is dry, it’s time for my favorite part. STAIN! I had an awesome friend give me a gallon of stain that her family used when redoing their floors. It was Minwax stain in Cherry. Thanks Denyse!!! You’re the best! Her floors were gorgeous so I knew it would be great in my home too!
We mixed it up really really well and went to town on those floors. To apply the stain, we used an old rag, a dry “buffing” rag and rubber gloves. Start in the far corner of the room and start applying. You will dip your rag into the stain, basically scrub the floor with it then use the clean buffing rag to get any excess with the dry rag. Make sure to wear rubber gloves because the stain will stain your hands for days and it looks nasty. Lesson learned on a previous project. haha!
PS. Those are my hubby’s hands in my kitchen gloves. 🙂
I love the look of the color as it went on the floor. It looked a little red at first but it darkened and deepened in color as we went over it and as it dried.
Here’s the stain all done! One more step! Seal with polyurethane for floors.
This 1-gallon can runs $29.99 at Home Depot and we really liked it. Be sure to read the directions thoroughly and make sure you work in a ventilated area. We opened all the windows in the room because the oil-based poly is very potent smelling. The water based option is good too but you will have to do more coats but the smell is not as strong… so, pros and cons to both. We had good luck with this one though.
You will want to use a smooth roller to apply the polyurethane just like you are painting a wall with a roller. It’s quite simple!
Let it dry according to the directions but we left the room for a full 24 hours before walking on it and putting furniture back in the room. You want to make sure it’s FULLY dry so nothing damages the floor and so the poly doesn’t damage your furnishings. 🙂
Finally, we repainted the doors, trim and vents in the room so the bones of the room looked like new!
My oh my! I just love it! It makes such a huge difference I think. Just for fun, here’s a progression shot of this room.
Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple more additions to this room up my sleeve. 😉
So, what do you think? Do you like the change?!
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  1. oh how I love your floor!! I so wish mine was in good enough condition to refinish like this, but it’s missing pieces… I think someone must have moved walls in this house or something. Sigh. If you do a post on how to replace missing wood floor sections, let me know!!! 🙂


  2. They look fantastic, great job! Our house had floors beyond finishing (think patches every.where.) so we wound up laying all new floors. I’m sickly interested in doing this in a future house though!

  3. Great job you guys! You have inspired me to do the same on my floors. I stained them dark 4 years ago. Lately I have been wanting them lighter (actualy white)again but was not looking forward to all the mess. But now I think it’s doable.

    1. I have no experience staining wood.
      I have teakwood floors that are the golden oak color. I hate orange. Is it possible to get rid of the golden oak orange utilizing the above process?

  4. I just found hardwood floors under my carpet when my puppy “accidently” pulled up the carpet. They look a lot like yours and I’m wondering if you had any problems with the painted areas? I’m looking forward to doing this in my house!

  5. This was great, thank you! We are planning on refinishing our floors too…I’m a little nervous. Just wondering, how many coats of poly did you apply as well as time between coats? And after the final coat, you put all furniture back after 24 hours?

    Thanks for the inspiration, and GREAT WORK!!

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  7. Hi,

    Great article! I have 1 question though. How did you spread the polyurethane towards the edges of the room? Since the roller is round, i would assume that it wouldn’t get the floor where the floor meets the wall. Did you have to get down and do the edges with a brush?


  8. Did you only do one coat of polyurethane? I’ve heard that you need at least 3. Just wondering how it has held up?

  9. This looks incredible! Great tutorial and starting point for someone looking to remove carpet and restore wood floors.

    Did you know there were hardwood floors under your carpet before you lifted them?

  10. The link to step one takes me to the home page, that doesn’t seem to have a link to the first step either. I was able to find step 2 in the DIY section, but don’t see the first one when looking manually either. I suppose what I need to know from it is how you prepared the floor for restaining. Your floors look great and I need to know how to do this! Thank you!

  11. This post series makes me so excited, thank you for posting!!

    I feel like I can do this, you’ve given me courage to tackle my own floors. Woo hoo, this is going to happen!!

  12. How much did this end up costing if u don’t mind me asking? I’m wanting to do this to my living room and hallway in April, all my bedrooms are hardwood!!

  13. Did you come across any bad spots in your wood or missing/damaged boards? I pulled up a corner and have wood floors that look like they would turn out nice, but scared to pull back any further.

  14. I am SO GLAD I came across this post, as we have just yanked up the carpet in the master bedroom and discovered paint-splattered wood floors identical to your first pic. (People are rotten.) We’re going to tackle this next weekend. Fingers crossed!

  15. Wow thank you so much for sharing. We just bought our first house and the living area has an old dirty carpet. We know it’s hardwood floor under it, but we have no idea the looks of it. Your step-by-step wood floor project is helping me prepping and getting ready for our job.

  16. We had new hardwood oak floors professionally installed, using our own boards. The wood shrank some, and we now have separation between some of the boards, much like yours looked at the beginning of your project. Do you think if we applied some poly like your finishing step, it would seal those gaps? I hate the thought of dirt getting permanently stuck in the areas. Your floors turned out lovely!

  17. They look awesome!!!

    I am thinking of doing to my new house, Do you have a cost estimate for this undertaking?


  18. I know I’m late to the party but I just found your post via pinterest and I love your floors! We just refinished our upstairs loft areas and used the same polyurethane. Awesome tutorial!

  19. So mopping the floor before staining it can help the wood receive the color better. That’s good to know. I love the darker wood look of your floor against the light color of your walls. Maybe we need to refinish our floors. They are such a light color right now.

  20. Your refinished flooring looks absolutely amazing! I have some really old wood floors, that I am looking to refinish. I will have to test out your restoration methods to be able to get hardwood flooring that looks new and refined.

  21. We are wanting to do this in our new home as well and reading this made it seem very doable and a reachable goal! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  22. I am looking to buy an old house built in the 20’s the floors are covered in carpet but anticipate the original floors are wood…. Thanks for sharing this you made it look rather easy and the finished look is absolutely gorgeous !!

  23. I’m confused about the cost/budget? In the comments you first said $400, then later $350. However, going through the post, I came up with the cost breakdown below which was only $228… including a little padding and paying for the stain. Am I missing something?

    Drum Sander Rental = $50
    — Paper 8$ each x 6 = $48
    Orbital Sander (edger) = $30
    — Paper = $10-20
    Stain = $30
    Poly = $30
    Drop cloth, tape, misc? = $20
    TOTAL = $228

  24. I just love the DIY ideas to renovate the house and this is looking really beautiful, stain looked almost like my favorite sin, chocolate and I was tempted to get hold of it and eat it all :). Results were amazing, you surely saved a lot on labor.

  25. Did you guys have to remove the baseboards? We’re looking at pulling our carpet up and I’m afraid the baseboards are too high (intended for carpet) and may need to be moved down to look right with bare wood.

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