If there is any post in this series that you can actually learn something new, it’s this one. I know because it was a learning experience for me, and I think fairly new to the interiors world, or, at least new to the residential/DIY world. I’m going to try to keep it brief without skimping on the important details of how we refinished our hardwood floors while keeping the natural color of the wood.
When we started sanding off the old finish in the closet I knew right away it was the color I dreamt would appear beneath the dark orangish-brown stain currently covering the entire second floor. It was a light, natural oak. I loved the old skinny flooring true to the home’s character, but the natural color seemed to bring a modern flair the house very much needed. So, as we went about refinishing the floors I started to stress over figuring out how to keep the beautiful color that they are.
Removing the Old Finish
As for the refinishing-of-the-floors-part, let me tell you that was no easy task. I feel as though we are not experts enough to explain step by step how we did it. I think every flooring job would be different. The grit, the number of times you sand with each grit, which machines would work best, could all vary. To give you a brief synopsis we sanded with 60, 80 then 100. We used a drum sander, edge sander, orbital sanders, and detail sander. It took long days and long nights. Lots of vacuuming. Lots of cleaning. Lots of bending over.
The main tips I can give you are:
- If you can, move all of the furniture out because if it is in the same space it will get covered in dust.
- Have a plan, and this may change as you dive in, but try to stay organized with your process.
- Rent the proper equipment, do your research, be prepared.
- Seal off the areas being done from elsewhere with plastic sheets.
- Cover all vents or turn off your heat.
- Clean/Vacuum with shop vac as you go.
- Change the sanding pads often, more often than you’d think.
Now, on to the good part.
How We Kept the Natural Color of 120 Year Old Hardwoods
I was stumped as we tried various stains and finishes, all of which altered the color of the floor. I knew the best method to avoid giving the wood that golden, darkened look just had to be out there. Through some research, I learned that any finish with oil in it will penetrate the wood and change the entire look. So, I researched to see if there was a way to seal the floors without an oil-based product. This is when I learned of Bona.
It is a water-based polyurethane system that technically is sold to be purchased by professional contractors. However, it has reached the not-so-underground market that is Amazon. We found a local seller of the product that allowed us to buy the combo we were looking for.
We started with the “Bona NaturalSeal” sealant, which is technically the part that will ultimately decide the coloring of the wood. This one has very little white pigment to keep the floors light as moisture is added. We applied one coat of this using the technique we learned in this video. Next, we finished with the “Bona Traffic HD”. We did two coats as recommended. I was in such awe as it went on how it simply just brought through the original, natural highlights and tones of the old oak boards. I was even more floored (no pun intended) when it was dry and they weren’t too slippery or too rough and still beautifully oak-y! They just felt like original, true hardwoods should.
You can view a quick little video of our experience condensed to a couple of seconds here.
I just felt like this system is such an underrated, undiscovered secret that I had to share. I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have about it too. It was definitely more expensive but 1000% worth it! It made me so excited to continue to finish the second floor, and especially the bedroom.
Up Next: Lighting
Since we did the entire second floor, and are also now painting the entire second floor, the bedroom is taking quite a while. I appreciate the patience and if you’ve kept any interest at all I appreciate you more! That being said, we have two weeks to finish it so now we are feeling the pressure both to finish the room but also share more about it with you.
You guys are going to die at the next update. I am so excited to partner with an amazing, stunning lighting brand that we used to replace the hardwired light fixtures in the room. Stay tuned for this blog post coming soon!