Refinishing the Floors

Aside from installing a dishwasher, the one other thing we wanted to do before moving into the house was to have the floors refinished — because they kind of needed it, and because common sense and everyone we talked to seemed pretty adamant that refinishing floors is a much, much bigger hassle once all your furniture and stuff’s been moved in.

At first, I was a little worried that trying to get this done would delay moving in by some ridiculous length of time — what if, for some reason, our contractor wasn’t able to start and/or finish the job in a timely manner? But by lunchtime on the Tuesday before we moved in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the floors had already been completely sanded bare:

The living room floor, sanded bare.

One of the floor guys brought three little sample-sized stain cans and applied them to a small section of the bare floor so we could pick a color. We had the idea that we didn’t want anything too dark or too yellow, but beyond that we didn’t really have a specific color in mind. Here’s what the three color samples looked like:

Stain color samples on the freshly-sanded floor.

The cans aren’t really visible in this picture, but I (mostly) remembered what the colors were called, and thanks to the magic of the internet I was able to easily find the following via a Google Shopping search. The cans are in the same order as the samples above:

From left to right: Dark Walnut, Special Walnut, and Early American.

Anyway, we ended up picking the middle one — the Dark Walnut just looked a little too dark, and the Early American came across as a little too yellowy, but the Special Walnut seemed just about right.

Unfortunately I don’t have have a good “before” pic of the living room floor to show it looking old and worn out, but here’s what it looked like after being freshly refinished:

The living room floor after refinishing.

And now for some fun before-and-after shots of the other rooms. First in line is the dining room: in addition to looking generally worn out, the floor had some discoloration and stains from what looked like paint cans (???) being left out. (The following two pictures were taken from the doorway into the kitchen.)

The dining room floor before refinishing.

The dining room floor after refinishing.

I think the stain color we picked ended up being a pretty close match to what was there before, but it still made a pretty dramatic difference.

Next up is the front bedroom, which had some interesting wear patterns that almost seem to form a path to the closet:

The front bedroom floors before refinishing.

The front bedroom floors after refinishing.

And finally the rear bedroom, which also had some visible wear patterns:

The back bedroom floors before refinishing.

The back bedroom floors after refinishing.

I have to say I really enjoyed taking these before-and-after photos — it’s just fun to see so many years of wear and tear turn into what looks like brand-new flooring.

As an added bonus, our floor guy provided that impossible service trifecta thought to exist only in myth: good, fast, and cheap. (Normally they say you get to pick only two.) But our floors look beautiful, they were finished in three days, and we ended up paying only about $1.65 per square foot — not bad considering that, according to the internet, the average cost of professional floor refinishing is somewhere in the range of $2.00 to $5.00 per square foot.

Anyway, that’s the story of refinishing our floors, which I’d say was the biggest “big thing” that we did before moving in. And we’ve been slowly making progress on the little things, although I’m sad to say that more than two weeks after moving in, we still have boxes to unpack. (On the plus side, we’ve gotten all of the “important stuff” unpacked and organized by now, and most of the remaining boxes just contain books and bric-a-brac that serve little purpose on a day-to-day basis… but it’ll be a good day when we’re 100% past the post-move-in chaos phase.)


  1. All I can say is WOW!!!

    Ok, my son knows me better, LOL. But not only does your floor look fabulous, that price IS really good. Not priced refinishing, but those DIY wood parquet blocks cost more than $1.65/sf, and well, they are DIY! Congrats!

  2. They look gorgeous! We had one room redone and I left it natural, partly because I forgot to choose a color and wasn’t good at doing so on the spot. It’s pretty but very light. This is a good reminder for me to look into this NOW with the hubs. We are doing so much it’s all like chicken and egg–I’m not sure what to do first. Lucky us, we have hardwood floors under all the carpet in the house.

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