As we were adding a walk-in closet to our master bedroom, we discovered that there were hard wood floors underneath the carpeting. The carpeting was old and ugly and we had plans to replace it with something hard surface anyway (3 little kids and 2 dogs makes carpet a poor option for our house!), so we were pretty excited to find it. And it’s the good stuff, too. Nice and thick, solid oak, and well installed. We knew we were going to have to put in some sweat investment: pulling out carpet, removing the old tack strip, etc…We didn’t know quite how involved the project would become.
As we started to pull up the carpet, we discovered these white paint blotches in different spots. Since our house spent a decade of its life as a rental (it had been a family home for a long time but went into a trust when the original owners passed away), we just assumed they were messy when painting and rolled out the drips. So we used some low odor paint stripper to take off the paint.
That’s when we discovered that the paint was a sealer to cover up all the stains on the floor. We assumed there had been urine stains from pets, along with other assorted liquids that hadn’t been cleaned in a timely manner. (This was verified when I went at the girl’s room with the drum sander and the smell of 10 year old cat urine whacked me in the nostrils). We read online that hydrogen peroxide could take those stains away, so we soaked some old t-shirts in it and left them on the stains for about 24 hours, covered with a plastic bag. At first we didn’t think it accomplished anything, but we just hadn’t let it dry yet. It actually worked pretty well, pulling out a lot of the old stains.
Then we went to Menards and rented a drum sander, which was surprisingly affordable. The total charge for 24 hours was about $100 and we sanded down 2 bedrooms. If we had our act together we could have gotten all 3 bedrooms finished in that time. I’m not a professional and because I did have to get deep in some spots to get at the stains, it is possible to see some areas where I let the drum rest and it went too deep. Keep that sander moving! I also did not sand down to the 100-grit as a pro would (I only used a medium 60 grit), because I just don’t care that much. We were so ecstatic over the finish that we are willing to live with the imperfections.
Sanding down the edges is a real pain in the rear. I have a couple different kinds of sanders, like a finish, a belt, and a random orbit. It just takes a lot of time and patience. Which we didn’t have so we ended up staining a cool outline around the edge of the master. I spent some more time working on the smaller bedroom so it is all one finish.
As far as finishes go, we wanted a natural look so we did not use any stain. I used a water based polyurethane finish (1 gallon did 4 coats on both bedrooms) which cost about $60. Because we’re moving kids around I wanted a fast finish time, so we purchased the kind that can be re-coated in 2 hours. After 4 coats we gave our room 24 hours to cure before moving any furniture back in.
We have one bedroom left to go, and I have to figure out what we’re going to do in the hallway since that is just a plywood underlayment. The right thing to do would be to purchase enough hardwood to make everything match. We’ll see. So far we have spent less than $200 on the floors and probably have another $100 to go, by the time I rent the sander again and buy another gallon of polyurethane. If we had taken everything out of all 3 rooms and done them all at once, I think we could have spent as little as $250. At less than $1/square foot, not only are we happy with our renewed hardwood floors, but we spent significantly less than we would have on anything else. If you happen to find hardwood floors under your carpeting, do your best to save them!