This past week, in addition to taking my mom to her bi-annual ultrasound and helping my uncle apply for Social Security retirement benefits, I took another stab at working on the nursery.
It was the third and final try at trying to refinish the hardwood floor. The first two tries were plagued by lack of experience and poor technique. The floor looked really dull and worse than its original condition. I was frustrated due to wasting money on the rental sander, polyurethane, and all the time I spent on what seemed like losing proposition.
Then, I discovered a small blister in the polyurethane that revealed the original floor underneath. The sander wasn’t aggressive enough to take down the thick coats of finish. I realized I would have to peel back the plasticky, rubbery dried poly so I could get back to the original floor. Luckily my dad was at the house visiting, so I enlisted him to help. After 4 hours, we only managed to take down one third of a 90 square foot room with a scraper and putty knife. It felt hopeless!
I called it quits for the day so I could take a much needed break and go to taco Tuesday with some work friends. On the way back home, I made my third stop at Home Depot to pick up a gel suspended paint thinner. Throwing down that toxic goop left behind a gooey substance, but really made it easy to remove the old poly. It just took a lot of manual labor.
In the morning I went to Home Depot again to buy two more gallons of the stuff. I figured since I was already in the hole with the rental sander, I might as well keep it a few more hours to see if I could actually get done on my last day off. So, once again, my dad joined me and we went to town laying down the thinner and scraping up the mess. At the time it felt like it was making it worse, but we actually got done a little after noon.
We were able to finish scraping off the remains, sand the floor, lay down a coat of sanding sealer, sand a second time, and finally return the rental sander to Home Depot. My dad went home exhausted, and I continued work laying down three coats of polyurethane throughout the duration of the night. Of course, in between I had to do my usual Wednesday tasks of playing with the dogs, paying bills, taking out the trash, and cleaning the kitchen.
Finally, the wood floor in the nursery looks great! I can finally move on and start prepping the room for painting. My goal is to finish the room by the end of the month.
I think what made the process so difficult was all of the different techniques and how-to’s available online. I spent a lot of time sifting through all of the sources and found that some techniques worked better than others, especially for a novice. I took some pictures during my final try, so I think at some point I will write a detailed how-to for people to find. If I’m ambitious enough, I might even work on a video. That way, other do-it-yourselfers can save themselves from making the same disastrous mistakes I made.