Bradley and I are total children of the ’80s, which means two things: 1) we grew up with some very embarrassing haircuts, and 2) Mr. Miyagi was a god. So when it came time to sand our floors, we cued up this YouTube clip and took notes:
Sanding floors, painting houses, defending against attacks from those dastardly Cobra Kai — home renovation is serious business. Now if only we could find a teenage boy we could con into renovating the house for us…
On Saturday morning, we marched on over to the Home Depot tool rental department and came back home with this puppy:
We had the option between a heavy-duty belt sander and a disc sander. We went with the disc sander. According to our Home Depot guy, the belt sander gets a better finish, but it’s harder to use. There was a definite potential of shaving too much off if we didn’t know what we were doing. We’ve never actually sanded floors before so we decided to play it safe. The disc sander still gets a nice finish and it’s way more user-friendly.
The Home Depot guy gave us a quick rundown on the proper way to use the machine. Here’s the right way:
Here are some wrong ways to use a sander:
And most importantly:
Now that we have that cleared up, it’s time to get on with the sanding. We started with a quick check to remove any staples or nails we might have missed:
Then we loaded up the sander with fresh 36-grit sandpaper:
The lowdown on sandpaper:
- The lower the number, the rougher the paper.
- The higher the number, the less gritty, so really high numbers will smooth and polish.
- You can’t jump from a really gritty sandpaper to a really smooth sandpaper. You have to work your way up gradually to get a really even surface. So start with a lower-grit sandpaper, then go a little higher, then a little higher, and finish off with a high-grit sandpaper.
We started with 36-grit, then re-sanded with 40-grit, 80-grit and ended with a 120-grit. That means we had to sand each room 4 times total. And we had to do it in 24 hours. It sounds like a lot of work, but we were up for the challenge. After living with our crusty old floors for 5 months, we were feeling downright giddy:
We flipped the on switch and let ‘er rip:
We had at least 2 layers of paint to strip, but the 35-grit sandpaper ate right through it. We were initially a little nervous about getting too close to the walls, but the disc sander was great for getting right up to the edge:
The sandpaper is underneath the machine, so it didn’t hit our wall at all. We had to replace our sanding discs pretty frequently because the the paint gummed things up:
This isn’t something we planned for, so just a few hours after bringing the sander home, we were on our last set of discs. Oops! Bradley handed over the sander to me while he ran to Home Depot to get more. I was sweating bullets all day because I knew eventually I would have to SAND THE FLOOR! and I wasn’t sure I could do it.
The sander is big. And loud. I had visions of tripping and falling in front of it, and the 35-grit sandpaper eating up my face. Or worse — what if I lost control and the sander crashed through a wall? Or if I got stuck in one spot and it ate a hole through the floor? What if the “off” switch broke and I had to sand and sand forever?
I obviously watched too many sitcoms growing up because stuff like that only happens on TV. At the time, though, it all seemed very likely. But we only had 24 hours with our sander and I had no choice but to get over it. I took a deep breath, grabbed the handles, flipped the switch and started sanding. The verdict? It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It was sort of like using a vacuum cleaner. A really big, heavy vacuum cleaner that vibrates and shakes the entire room. OK, fine, it wasn’t like using a vacuum cleaner at all. But it wasn’t horrifying. I still have a face and our floors are intact. So I call that a success.
We vacuumed after each round of sanding to check out our progress. The sander actually doesn’t kick up dust into the air at all, but it does leave some dust behind on the floor. Here’s how the guest bedroom looked after 40-grit:
Smooooth! When we first removed the carpet, we were so disappointed to find soft pine planks instead of a gorgeous hardwood, but the floors have really grown on us.
After the guest bedroom, we headed over to the office. This room was more of a challenge than the guest bedroom because it has hard pine flooring instead of soft pine. They’re harder to sand. There was also glue under the carpets, and those patches needed some serious work to sand off:
There was also this beast to deal with:
That radiator easily weighs 400 pounds. It’s massive. We thought we could just put it on the dolly and wheel it around, but that left gashes in the wood. To sand around it, we had to pick it up and waddle it over to the other side of the room. We went back and forth with it for 4 rounds of sanding. Still surprised neither of us ended up with a hernia from that.
Here’s how the office looked after sanding:
It was already dark by the time we finished, so we got to test out our new recessed lightbulbs:
It took us 3 trips to the hardware stores, but we finally found bulbs that sit really far back in the can and cast a nice light. The others all either sat out too far or looked too blue, so we returned them. We’re loving how the lighting adds instant drama to the room:
The little space right outside the office didn’t sand so well:
We went over it for what seemed like forever, but the paint never quite came off. We’re not sure if it’s just soaked really deeply into the wood, but we scuffed it so much that our paint will definitely stick to it.
By the time we finished all 4 rounds of sanding in the office and guest bedroom, it was 8PM. We still had the hallway to do, but we also didn’t want to piss off our neighbors. I did a quick check to see how loud we were being by running out to the yard and standing right in front of the fence that divides our property from our neighbor’s. Inside the house, it sounded like a tornado was happening upstairs. Outside, it was barely a hum. I had to strain to hear it. Looks like all our insulation and new windows helped soundproof the place as well as keep it warm!
We decided to keep going and finish up the hallway before going to bed:
We’d been sanding for over 9 hours by the time we finished, and we were wiped out. We didn’t bother cleaning up after we finished. On Sunday morning, we went back up to vacuum and take some daylight pictures:
And then we decided to go ahead and sand the dining room floors. Bradley spent part of Saturday prepping the room while I sanded. We weren’t sure whether we’d have time for the dining room, but we wanted to be ready just in case. Good thing, too, because we had 4 hours still left on the clock and that gave us plenty of time. Here’s what they looked like before Bradley prepped the room:
And here’s how they look now:
You can also take a peek at the afters in the “no” pictures above. My favorite:
I love the look on Jabba’s face in that one. Don’t feel sorry for her, peeps. That dog loves our shenanigans.
Coming up next:
We’re painting our floors! I’d better go brush up on Mr. Miyagi’s recommendations. Is it side-to-side? Or up-down? I forget. We’ll be back with more updates, so stay tuned.
What we learned from our floor-sanding adventure:
- Give yourself plenty of time.
Our Home Depot offers a 4-hour rental and a 24-hour rental. The 4-hour rental is $20 cheaper, but we’re pretty sure we couldn’t finish up even one room in that amount of time.
- Buy more than you need.
We could have saved an emergency trip to Home Depot by stocking up and then returning all the unopened packs for a refund when we took the sander back. Luckily there are 2 of us here, so 1 person could sand while the other ran to Home Depot. And that brings us to the most important lesson we learned…
- It takes two.
Having 2 people around was a major help in getting 3 rooms and a hallway sanded in less than 24 hours. One person could sand while the other prepped the next room. We also traded off sanding duties every couple of hours. That way our arms could rest up in between sanding sessions, but we still plugged along at the same pace. Plus, the sander was crazy-heavy. It definitely takes 2 people to haul that thing up and down stairs. Partner up, people! Now show me….SAND THE FLOOR!