Houston, we have a dark walnut bedroom floor...

Alternate title to this post: Tack Cloths are Tacky (and Other Things I Learned While Refinishing our Bedroom Floor).

Here she is, before and after (not including when she was carpeted, which we had to remove when we took out the closet):

She's not made of the same high-quality wood that our downstairs floors are (and we are floor-refinishing novices, obviously), so she's not perfect. We're just going to say that the knots and dents "Add character!", though, and move on with life, because we're perfectly content with it in all its imperfection.

Dear Owners: Please put up my trim ASAP so my edges don't feel so unsightly. Love, Your Bedroom.

Our process wasn't fancy, but here is our basic method (again, we're novices, but it worked out alright in the end):

Step One: Sand the floors. We rented an orbital plate sander. I am a lame blogger and have no photos of this. However, I can let you know that when Rick first turned it on and tried pushing it around, he looked something like this:

Sander image courtesy of here.

It was a mash-up of a dancing Elaine from Seinfeld and what those kids looked like on homecoming when they had to spin around on a bat and then run around for a relay race. I don't know what that particular game is called, because I was always the one hiding in the bleachers.

In all seriousness, Rick found that he had the most control over it when he kept it upright as opposed to tilted back at a slight angle. I found that I had the most control over it when I didn't use it and instead was in charge of Dust Control by following Rick around with our shop-vac (whom I lovingly refer to as R2-D2). Here's a post-sanding photo:

Rick first used 20 grit sandpaper, then 60, then 100 to get the smoothest finish possible. The 20 grit cleaned off all of the paint and grossness, but left the floors feeling slightly like when I don't shave my legs for days at a time. (I mean, when other people don't shave their legs for days at a time...) The 100 grit made it like those commercials where the model's legs are all sparkly and shiny after using some fancy new razor.

Step Two: Clean the floors. We used R2-D2 a shop-vac to get the dust and other residue from the spaces in between the floor boards and tack cloths to clean the surface. Now, am I the only one who had no idea that tack cloths were tacky, as in they-leave-a-sticky-residue-on-your-hands? Don't ask what I thought "tack" meant, because I really don't know. The things I've discovered since owning a house. At least now I know that you use a circular saw to cut out circles. What? That's wrong, too? Sigh. Apparently I have a lot to learn.

Step Three: Condition the wood. We used Minwax brand and needed 2 quarts for our 12'x18' room. It was stinky.

I guess this step is actually optional, but we read that with soft wood like pine (which is what we have) the "pros" recommend conditioning it first so that your stain goes on evenly. According to the directions on the can, you should stain within 2 hours after applying the conditioner.

Step Four: Stain.We used Minwax Dark Walnut. It was stinky.

It went on a lot darker than it appeared on the can, so Rick wiped it off after about 10 minutes. It's still a little darker than I envisioned, but that's okay.

Step Five: Seal. We used Varathane oil-based sealer (because the stain was oil-based) in satin and applied two thin coats. It was--guess what?--stinky.

I've found by trial and annoying error that when working with polyurethane it's best to re-touch your application as little as possible, because after even just a few minutes the finish is already tacky and re-touching it will give it a matted, uneven look. In between coats, I gave the floor a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper to help get a more even finish.

Step Six: Wait. We could walk on it/give your cats free reign of the upstairs again after 24 hours, but as soon as the three days curing time have passed, we can move our furniture in. Happy day!

Our self-imposed deadline for making our bedroom "livable" started out as the end of July, but that was a bit ambitious, so we changed it to the end of summer vacation. Summer vacation, for me, ended yesterday. (Yes, as you read, this, I am off being enlightened about Common Core Standards and Accessing Success for Every Student, Every Day.) I'm ready to go back, I think. Of course, it will take only one student giving me attitude about her assigned seat to make me once again pine away for the lazy days of summer, where the only thing giving me attitude is my cat. And occasionally the dishwasher.


  1. It's beautiful!! Floors with character are the best. I used to freak out when we dropped something or the dog ran like crazy on them. Now those spots just remind me of things...like the time I made Nate rehang the curtains in our kitchen twice and he dropped the rod (on accident) and left a dent in the floor and then filed for divorce papers...memories.
    Hope the first day back goes well!

  2. It looks awesome! I've never had to tackle any big projects like that, but I've got a few I wouldn't mind doing. I also have no idea of the physical qualities a tack cloth holds. I've HEARD about it plenty of times before, but at this point I'm pretty sure it's just a mystical object. I can't believe your summer JUST ended, crazytown!

  3. They look GREAT!! Y'all are rockstars.

  4. They look amazing! I love original floors that have been refinished. Great job!!

  5. Rachel9/06/2011

    One thing the consider about the pine floor when you move in furniture or ever want to rearrange things. The floor in my bedroom at my parents house (and the one in the ivy room full of forbidden breakables) are both pine. When I cleaned out my room last summer and packed away my life I noticed that my desk chair had gouged and dented the boards and stain pretty badly from me scootching the chair in and out over the years. You might want to consider putting small scraps of carpet under the legs of cabinets and beds to protect the floor. It might make things easier to move in the future too.

  6. Oh they look fabulous! And now I have floor envy...I have been pining away for my living room floors to be refinished in this gorgeous dark colour for three years now...maybe this fall (but I have been saying that about everything) At any rate they look great and your posts always make me smile! Happy Tuesday!

  7. WOW! I have a friend who just put in dark floors and they look aaamazinggg! Yay, you! :)

  8. Thanks ladies! You always make my day. :)

    Rachel: Thanks for the tip! We'll definitely do that!

    Gloria: I'm pretty sure I will someday write a post about the terms I've learned since owning a house. I feel like Amelia Bedelia a lot of the time...

  9. You guys are CRAZY. I can't believe how much you get done in NO time. I'm still trying to psych myself up to hang curtains, and you're building whole houses (it seems like).

    I LOOOVE the dark floors, BTW. GORGEOUS.

  10. Erin - your floor is gorgeous! Pine floors are hard to keep from denting. (Back in the day, my high heels would leave indentions you could see on the floor around my sink/mirror from finishing up getting ready.) But it all adds to the incredible character of the room. Can't wait to see how beautiful it is when you get it furnished!

  11. LOVE the dark floors! We are hoping to redo our floors in our main living area this winter and I've been thinking dark wood would be awesome...love seeing yours!

  12. What a project! I loved reading every little bit. And one day when I get a shop-vac, I too, will refer to it as R2D2.

  13. Gorgeous! I love dark wood floors. I can't believe you guys tackled this project yourselves. We pretty much DIY everything, but the floors we hired someone. Great work.

  14. Anonymous9/07/2011

    Holy cow! I'm totally impressed that you guys did this yourselves. It looks beautiful; and I definitely think the imperfections add character!
    ~Kelly @ Corner of Main

  15. I love the color of the floors! The dark is quite charming and different! I'm amazed you guys did this yourself (I would've probably called someone in)!

  16. I am thoroughly impressed. I am building some shelving and painting and coating that is already a much bigger project than I anticipated. I can't imagine trying to redo the floors by yourself.

  17. Wowza! Great job guys (and R2D2)! It looks like a professional job. I just love the color you chose.

  18. I think it looks awesome! You totally brought back a memory I had forgotten. Back when I was a teen my Mum decided to restain the dining room and hallway floors. I think it was the sealer that wrecked it, it ended up looking black with white coating over it. More attractive than it sounds. She called it 'cloudy sky at night'. ;) From the looks of things your floor is going to work out just fine!

  19. Love them!! Thanks for the breakout. Somehow I'd forgotten about the wood conditioner. We have oak floors, so I'm not sure if we'll do this step or not!


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