The first thing I did was to mix all my stains together. The color that I chose (Rustoleum's Kona, of course!) only comes in a quart so I had to buy 4 cans. In case there were any slight variations in color between batches, I dumped them all into a gallon can and mixed them together.
We started in the guest bedroom. I applied the stain to one area with an applicator pad that attached to a long broom handle. Then we set a timer for 5 minutes after which David went back with old t-shirts and wiped up the excess.
After the first room, we were a bit discouraged by the unevenness of the stain application. We briefly googled to see what was causing it and didn't really come up with a definitive answer. Suggestions ranged from inconsistent sanding to "that's just how it is sometimes." We decided to continue on and figure out what to do if it continued to be a problem.
In subsequent rooms, I applied the stain along the long wall of the room, making each pass parallel with the direction of the wood. This seemed to help a lot, though didn't completely remedy the issue. We also began doing two rooms at once to speed things along.
Even so, it took us until 1 in the morning to stain ourselves into a little box...
...and out the front door.
We did find quite a surprise as we stained in the living room: pup paw prints! Chico had walked on the bare wood a few days earlier with wet feet. I figured since the prints dried and were no longer visible, it wouldn't be an issue. Apparently that was quite wrong.
The next morning, David sanded down the offending prints and re-stained those areas, which fixed the problem.
I was still a bit unsure about my stain color selection even as we went to apply it, but I absolutely love the color. It's exactly what I was looking for: a deep brown without a lot of red or yellow undertones.
After I got off work Saturday afternoon, we got down to business with polyurethane. We opted to go with the oil based mainly because of the cost. Water based requires one additional coat, costs more per gallon, and doesn't cover as much square footage per gallon. It was basically a difference of $400 for water based or $160 for oil based. There also wasn't a huge difference in dry times between coats (4 hours for oil vs 2 hours for water) and both required three days before regular use. We also chose a satin finish because I prefer the look and had heard it is better at hiding scratches and dirt than a higher gloss finish. With a dog and two cats in the house, hiding scratches and dirt is high on our list of pros.
Before applying the first coat, we went over the floors once more with tack cloths since some debris had been brought in and stirred up during staining. Then we opened all the windows and turned on all the ceiling fans (after cleaning them off with tack cloths, of course). Then I got my lambswool applicator and applied the poly. I used long strokes without lifting the pad off the floor until I reached a wall. If I had to lift it off early, I made sure to use a sweeping motion as I lifted to avoid lines in the finish. As we applied the poly, some stain came off with it which seemed to help out the blotchiness issue quite a bit, much to our relief.
I did the majority of the first coat by pulling the applicator behind me.
|Sorry for the blur. I was movin' and groovin'.|
Here's a pro tip: Don't put your phone and drink on a window sill and then finish the floor in front of that window without moving your things. Otherwise, you'll have to stare longingly at them through the screen for the next several hours.
Once the recommended four hours had passed, we came back inside to check on how things were drying and also to get my phone and drink. There was one area in a bedroom that was still tacky, so we left it for another hour before moving on to coat #2.
We applied two coats on Saturday, and the final coat Sunday morning. Our poly did not require sanding unless more than 12 hours have elapsed between coats. Because we didn't want to go through the extra work of sanding and removing the resulting dust, we strategically timed our applications so that we wouldn't have to.
The floors were dry to the touch when we re-coated, but the poly was still very soft and easily scratched so as we stepped inside the house, we removed our shoes and slipped on a fresh pair of these sexy booties. Not only are they very stylish, they are apparently made for someone with a size 20 foot, which meant my size 4 feet were constantly tripping on the excess material. Not cool.
After the final coat was applied, we have to wait 24 hours for "light use," which is a term I don't fully understand, and three days until we are free to go wild on it and move our furniture back in.
As far as fumes go, they really weren't that bad when we had the windows open. As we were applying the poly, it was pretty strong, but in the rest of the house it's not very noticeable. It's been raining the past two days so we had to close things up and now it smells pretty strongly of burning rubber on that side of the house, though in the basement and kitchen it is still very minimal.
Here's how the color is looking with three coats of polyurethane on it. Since we used the oil based it definitely made the color a little warmer, but it actually makes me love it even more.
David and I were discussing how neurotic we are now going to be about keeping these floors pristine after putting so much work into them. We joked about putting a clear floating floor over top of them so no one can scratch the finish.
Don't mind the giant hole in the floor. I only almost fell into it a few times while finishing the floors. It's our air return for the air conditioner.
Here's how my spray painted vent covers are looking. Not a perfect match, but definitely much more subtle than before!
In summary: Am I glad we did this? Yes! I'm absolutely in love with how they turned out and we saved thousands of dollars over having a professional do it. Do I ever want to do it again in my entire life? NO WAY!