Successful DIY: Dusty carpet to beautiful hardwood floors

Posted in Blog, Tips, Projects & DIYs
on April 18, 2016
DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing

THE DAY we closed on this house, we pulled into the driveway all smiling and giggling. We go the front door and we immediately parted way opening up all the windows in the whole house and then quickly finding a corner of the carpet that we could lift. We wanted it OUT.ย  Let me seeeee those beautiful floors!! Let me at ’em!!

DIY hardwood floor transformationDIY hardwood floor transformation
We found beautiful red oak floors from 1949. We had a lot of work ahead of us. The carpet left behind a terrible residue all over the floors. Some kind of tar-based glue. It’s black, it’s sticky, and it WOULD NOT come off!

DIY hardwood floor transformation ย  DIY hardwood floor transformation

Hours and hours were comitted to removing this stuff because it couldn’t be sanded off. It gunked up any grit sand paper we tried. Paint thinner, vinegar, Murphy’s oil soap and so many other solutions were tried out to see if it would cut this substance. In the end, white vinegar was the most effective. The technique was so tedious. We would spread a layer of vinegar over an area of about 2 square feet and let it sit for about a minute to help it soak into the black tar. Then we’d go in with metal scrapers and plane it off and wipe it away. Move onto the next area.

Every night after work, and any vacation time I had, was spent scraping these floors. We bonded with the floors, we cursed at the floors. We had two bedrooms, a hallway, and the living room to work on. After a week we were finally done! The house smelled like a salad but it was time to start sanding!

DIY hardwood floor transformation

Family and friends came to our rescue and it was all hands on deck! Running (and blowing circuits) were a stand up sander that we rented for the day. My stepdad (and home renovation hero) was in charge of using this one, as he had refinished hardwood floors before. There was also a medium sized corner sander, which was also super heavy duty, and 3 or 4 hand sanders.

DIY hardwood floor transformation

DIY hardwood floor transformation

DIY hardwood floor transformation

The chaos out on our deck during this process…

DIY hardwood floor transformation

The biggest takeaway I had from this… adventure… was to BE PATIENT. This is not something you want to rush or cut corners on. Refinishing hardwood floors is a slow and tedious process. You have to strip them in multiple phases, heaviest grit sand paper, medium, fine and super fine. And that is with every single tool we had!

DIY hardwood floor transformation

Here’s a look at some of the used sand paper–as you can see from those dark streaks, not all of the black gunk had been completely removed. The vinegar didn’t work on every single spot, so we had to grind it off with a metal-bristle wheel and then sand it. It was painful to watch!11053893_10204715353578819_2375901029969289026_o

Couples who sand together, stay together ๐Ÿ˜‰

DIY hardwood floor transformation

After two days of sanding and vacuuming (including the stairs–but that will be another post) we were ready to stain. We made a stain sample board to choose our color. (A sample board is just a scrap piece of red oak stripped down and then small swatches painted on next to each other so we could see how the color would truly look)

I thought we were going to go for a medium/dark toned stain but when we got to the see our floors raw and naked, we saw how great of shape they were in! There were no stains and the grain of the wood was so beautiful!


By the way, be super careful during this time–when the raw wood is exposed everywhere.

DIY hardwood floor transformation

We all wore booties on our shoes and no one was allowed to eat or drink on them because they would absorb and stain so easily.


We decided to go with a Natural Stain from Minwax.

One coat of that and 2 coats of Minwax Satin Poly later, we had beautiful glowing red oak floors!

DIY hardwood floor transformation

Here’s how our hardwoods look today, they’re holding up wonderfully and I am so in love with the warmth they bring to our house. DIY hardwood floor transformation

This was a huge project and I am so proud that we did it! The floors are not perfect, but they’re beautiful and they’re ours. My family and friends’ help was invaluable. I don’t know if I can ever repay them for all their hard work, sweat and back aches that they put in to this!


Have you any tips to add about refinishing old wood floors? I’d love to hear them ๐Ÿ™‚ And if you know anyone looking to take on this project, share this!


Thanks so much for spending time here today.

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If you enjoyed this post, you might like more of our Home Improvement posts here!

Love, Brittany

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12 Comments

  • Dara [Hoodcreeklogcabin]

    Wow! So much work but it turned out beautifully!

    February 5, 2016 at 4:55 am Reply
    • Brittany

      Hi Dara! Thank you–it certainly was a lot of work but we had help! The floors are one of our favorite features now ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by

      February 6, 2016 at 4:03 pm Reply
  • Kate

    Girl, you guys rock! We’re house hunting now and will definitely be in for some similar adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

    April 14, 2016 at 10:45 am Reply
    • Brittany

      Thanks Kate! I can’t wait to see what sort of gorgeous-ness you guys come up with in a house!! Thanks for stopping by the blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      April 22, 2016 at 4:49 pm Reply
  • Cathy

    Oh the memories!!!
    But it was definitely worth it .. They do look beautiful:-)

    April 24, 2016 at 7:43 am Reply
    • Brittany

      hahah can you smell the vinegar?

      April 24, 2016 at 8:02 am Reply
  • Serenity Bailey

    I read your informative information in diy hard wood refenishing and like it. I aspect all blog reader will be like.

    September 24, 2016 at 7:50 am Reply
  • Luna Foster

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful diy hardwood floor refinishing..

    January 28, 2017 at 5:13 am Reply
  • alex

    Superb article and outstanding photos. Well, if you work hard you can achieve great results even if you are not a professional

    Well done again!

    July 2, 2017 at 3:29 am Reply
    • Brittany

      Thanks Alex! Yes, never underestimate the power of a budget and motivation haha

      July 4, 2017 at 5:19 pm Reply
  • Wood Flooring | Hardwood Floors NYC, New York

    Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this blog post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

    July 10, 2017 at 5:03 am Reply
  • Company registration

    Great job guys! The floor looks superb!

    September 21, 2017 at 1:27 pm Reply
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