{renovate: kitchen remodel} refinishing the wood floors

To date, the biggest headache of this kitchen remodel has been the refinishing the wood floors. When Chris moved into the house six years ago, he tore up half the carpet in the upstairs and refinished the original hardwoods. And last year we tore up the remaining carpet and refinished the hardwoods. So, all throughout our upstairs we have beautifully refinished original hardwoods. When it came to remodeling the kitchen, in an ideal world, we'd pull up the nasty 80's linoleum in the kitchen and .... refinish the hardwoods! Easy peasy!

And then we pulled up a sample spot. Wop, wop. There were two layers of linoleum glued to the hardwoods with the blackest gunkiest glue ever made. What was left with when we pulled everything up was black hardwoods with lots of remaining green paper (?) securely glued in place (see below). Our little jitterbug sander, which served us so well last year, wasn't even making a dent.

Nice. So these past couple weeks we've been brainstorming ways to deal with this, um, situation. We tore down the wall between the kitchen and the living room to open up the space (see above) and I am worried that treating the floors differently in each room will only create a boundary between the two spaces. Less noticeable than a wall, but still there none the less.

This weekend, when I was flying home from Haven, Chris rented a super duper huge floor sander. The goal was to break through the paper and the glue to salvage the hardwoods.

And hey look! I got off the plane and was put directly to work. Although it was kinda fun to use the huge sander :).

This is what we were left with. It smoothed everything out really well, but still left us with a splotchy floor. Gross. 

We were discussing this with our neighbor and he recommended a belt sander. He had the same problem in his house and it worked great. Have you guys used a belt sander?! I scoffed at first, because it's no bigger than my jitterbug. How could that little guy possible achieve what the super huge sander couldn't?

Well my friends, size apparently isn't everything ;). Look at how awesome this turned out! Oh, by the way, three days after the fact my arms are finally starting to not hurt. Belt sanders are powerful little tools. Four (4!) hours of sanding later, we had this:

So what exactly is the plan? Because our floor actually looks crazier now than before! I'm going to make you wait until friday, for two reasons. First, this post is getting really long. And second, I need your opinions!

I hope you all are having an awesome week! Anyone else have a frustrating renovation they're going through right now? Please share, I'd love to commiserate :).


  1. Wow! You did go right to work. We haven't refinished any floors, but pulling up the carpet from the stairs was pretty dreadful, but worth it. I can't wait to see the rest. Our floors are different in our kitchen compared to the rest of the house - it never really bothered me that much but now it's really starting to bother me (kitchen is an orange undertone and the rest of the house is golden). But we're not doing anything about that since we'll move soon.

  2. Wow, this does NOT sound like fun. But I'm SO glad you found a solution that works! Can't wait to see Friday's post!

  3. four hours and 1/3 of the room is done?! While I'm glad you found a solution? I'm sorry the solution is so slow going! Hang in there!

  4. WOW!!! Four hours and not done...YIKES! I bet your arms didn't stop vibrating for the first two days, huh? LOL! Great work friend! You guys ROCK!

  5. Had the same issue in our bedroom when we first moved in. All the hardwoods were covered with carpet, but we discovered in the bedroom, there was also old tiles. After prying/chipping all the tiles (which took forever), I was so distraught to see all the black gunk. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acsmi24/4069069175/in/set-72157622595382823) Luckily, my contractor was able to just sand all of it off and we were left with perfectly untouched wood. Is yours Doug Fir? Just asking b/c if it seems lighter than the rest of your house, it will darken over time from the sun. I bet it will look amazing when it's all finished! Can't wait to see!

  6. Wow, you guys are doing a lot of work here! I get it, how annoying this can be! When we refinished our floors, one of the bedrooms had this really weird sticky surface on the floors that the sandpapers just didn't work on. It became a sticky mess and we destroyed quite a few papers trying to sand those floors. After a while we gave up, and thought it was a good opportunity to paint that hardwood floor instead! But you're really making progress. And yes, our belt sander was also really powerful and we ended up using that almost more than the evil sanding machine we rented, so I can definitely see why it would work better than anything else. I look forward to seeing the finished floors when you're ready!

  7. "Someday" when I finally get to redo our kitchen, I want to rip up all the old flooring as well. I think there's three or four layers now. We put down new over the old as a quick fix several years ago. But when we pulled back a corner, it's the same situation. That terrible black stuff. What were you thinking 1947?! Anyway, I'm not an old house connoisseur, but you've probably got fir floors there in the kitchen as the previous comment suggested. That's what they put in a lot of the kitchens because it was cheaper and they were going to cover it up anyway. Ours has the fir and I realize it won't match our hardwoods, but I'll love it anyway. "Someday". Good luck getting the rest off. Our neighbor is a contractor and he used some sort of caustic liquid stuff a while back and said after days of scraping and sanding, this stuff was like magic. Of course, I cant' remember what it was.


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