DIY Rental Properties

Sanding 100 year old maple floors …is my nightmare

December 5, 2016

We’ve been working hard for the last week on the duplex (while still doing our other jobs.) We probably spent between 3-8 hours each per day for the last week on the place, primarily getting the floors refinished. We rented a drum sander from a local shop that specializes in helping people refinish their own floors. We got a free lesson with the rental, which was nice since this was our first go at it.

However, the lesson took place on a nice, flat, new floor. Our floors…..didn’t go like that. Sanding floors usually consists of running a large drum sander over them at several different grits (working from gritty-er to less gritty to get to a smooth floor.) Well, getting the finish off was a bit of a nightmare. The floors are just really old…they are not perfectly level, they are an extremely hard wood (which is great but also difficult for refinishing,) they are covered with old finish, and they were all around just terrible to refinish. We first ran the drum sander over them and this was what we got. This step, ideally, gives you a bare floor meaning it would all look like bare maple. As you can see – this is not bare wood. We did a lot of experimenting, which I won’t get into, and spend a couple of days just trying to get to bare wood. We were exhausted, and nearly killed eachother.


This last pic is when we finally started to get most of the finish off, at about 10pm.

After finally getting all the old finish off we moved through the different grits till we finally got to a nice smooth floor. We then rented the buffer and buffed, sealed, and buffed again. They are certainly not perfect, but we are more than happy with the end result. My advice for anyone thinking of refinishing floors themselves: don’t. Just kidding…kind of. I would actually happily take on a nice 50s home or place with level looking floors, no gaps, etc. Or a softer wood than maple. All around, we hit a ton of challenges and I’d hesitate to do it myself again. Complaining over- HOW great do these look now?! I’m actually kind of sad that our rental property has beautiful maple floors and we will probably not be that lucky in our own home, but oh well.

Here is the finished product!! They are wonderful.


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In other news…..

We worked on the kitchen floor which wasn’t in good shape and had to be partially torn up. Weirdly, the kitchen was about half destroyed maple and half oak. Since the oak was in really nice shape, we found some matching oak and feathered it in. We then stained just the kitchen (I’d never touch the beautiful maple!) a very dark gray/almost black to cover all of the stains and blend the two portions of the kitchen floor together. You can see the color variations below. I also chose this color because I can’t stand when floors are almost the same but don’t quite match, so I wanted it to be dramatically different than the maple in the other rooms.


Anyway, here it is so far! Adding a coat of polyurethane today and then soon we will be ready for cabinets!




That’s all for now! We put in an offer on a house that we are waiting to hear back on, but I’m not going to jinx it. Let’s just say if we get it, lots of blogging ahead!







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