In an earlier thread, I talked about getting ready to put down a mesquite
floor and whether or not to put down an underlayment. (I've decided to put
down a layer of 1/4" ply just in case anything ever needs to be taken up).
I'm now jumping a little ahead and looking forward to the finishing. My
original plan was to hire the sanding/finishing out. I've called a few area
folks and I've gotten prices between $1.25-$2/sq ft to sand and finish.
I've got about 565 sq. ft. of floor, which makes the midpoint cost about
$1000, which doesn't really shock me. I've also got some cherry doors to
put a finish on, and while looking at the Waterlox web site, I ran across
their PDF on finishing floors with Waterlox. Now, everyone I've talked to
wants to finish the floors with poly. Of course, Waterlox has a number of
reasons why their product is better than poly. I have been reticent to
finish the floor myself for a number of reasons...a) I've never done it
before, b) I've never used a floor sander, and c) I've never finished
anything (successfully) with poly. I've read some people who have said that
using the floor sander was not that hard, especially the random-orbit
variety. I've also used Waterlox on furniture projects with excellent
Sooooooo....does anyone have thoughts on the wisdom of a novice floor
finisher tackling this project on his own? Any thoughts on using Waterlox
on a hardwood floor?
You will get a lot of opinions on this, and this is mine.
Don't practice on your new floor. You can damage the floor terribly
with one of those sanders. And if you have any problems with your
finishing, this isn't the place to learn how to seal large areas with
mulitiple coats of finish without leaving brush or pad marks, and
worrying about lap lines and adhesion.
Take out all your costs from the contractor's bid you like the most.
- 3 to 4 gallons of real formulated flooring finish (do NOT think Home
at $45 a gallon
- applicator(s) - a four inch brush or 8" pad
- cleaning rags and a couple of gallons of thinner for cleanup
- cost of the sander rental
- cost of the sander belts
- rental or purchase of sander compatible dust removal equipment
- your time to go pick up the material, rent the machines, and do the
Worse, what will you do if you are unhappy with the job? How much did
you save if you have to look at a lap line in the floor or have to make
excuses to everyone when they see your masterpiece? Worse, what if you
have an adhesion problems or something else that you don't know about
until later, and wind up having to strip sand it now or in the
If you are an amatuer, you have already done a helluva lot of work to
get this floor and subfloor down. Watch and learn from the contractor
and see what you feel like doing on your next project.
For more on understanding wood flooring, check this out:
Whatever you do, good luck!
As I said to Joe, unless a bunch of people come in and say it's not that
hard, I'm happy to spend the $1000 or so to have someone else do it. As you
say, the marginal cost is much less than that since I have to buy finish,
A few years back I was offered twice my going rate to do the finishing
on two sets of stairs I had trimmed. The home owner thought I was so
meticulous in my woodwork that I would be the man for the job. I
turned it down.
Because Finishing is a trade in itself. Finishers spend a career
becoming professionals in what they do. Of course I cannot run a
sander and apply a finish at the same quality level as a pro.
Can you do it - Yes, of course.
Will it come out better with a seasoned finisher - Of course.
At the same time, its not a museum. There is certainly some value in
doing it yourself and if you read a lot and listen to folks, it will
probably come out pretty good.
The floors in my home? I sub'ed the sanding.
PS- If you do decide to do it I would buy an extra sheet or two of
plywood -(cheap stuff) to make some practice runs with the
sander....to get the feel so-to-speak.
Long ago, in our first house, SWMBO and I took on a 16 x 24 family room. It
was a large addition to a tiny house, put on by the previous owner. It was
poorly executed - everywhere (another story some time). The floor was 3/4 T&G
red oak, stained very dark. The last foot or so in the front of the room was
construction lumber (guess he ran out of oak, and didn't want to buy more).
It was covered by a green shag carpet.
We tore out the construction lumber and put in matching T&G oak. We used a big
drum sander and circular edge sander to get rid of the dark stain. We put down
5 coats of poly (I think it was water based, but that was 30 years ago now, I
can't be sure such a thing even existed back then). I do remember hand sanding
and tacking between coats on our hands and knees. It turned out GREAT.
To be honest, we'd had a little practice. The rest of the house had oak
floors, under carpet. In one of the bedrooms, and the living room and hallway,
we'd pulled up the carpet and refinished the floors. But those floors had not
been stained, so little sanding was needed as prep for the new finish. And
we'd done a lot of other stuff in that house, including finish carpentry,
HVAC, plumbing and electrical, so we were emboldened by our past successes.
That family room was completely changed, and we knew what we could do the job
Neither one of us is a construction pro. But we did it, saved ourselves some
money which we could put into lighting and furniture, and it looked great.
You can do it. Go for it!
I was a professional house painter for 4 years. If you don't know what
your doing when it comes to finishing any large area like that, let the
pros do it. For $1000 I think it is totally worth it. Those guys will do
it well and any screw ups will be on their heads as well as any warranty
associated with the material being applied.
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