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Mini Floor Refinishing Project

Hey y’all! I didn’t work on the house at all this past weekend, so yesterday I got started on my floor again. Just to recap, the reason I’m calling this a “mini” floor refinishing project is because I’m not breaking out the big tools (i.e., renting an actual drum sander) like I did the first time I refinished my floors. (Click here to read more about the major floor refinishing project I did before we moved into the house.)

refinished hardwood floors - correctly sanded - 2

And I’m not concerned with removing all of the original finish and getting down to bare wood. This time, I just used my small rotary sander with some 80-grit and 120-grit sanding discs, and my main goal was to remove all of the paint and primer drips and overspray, as well as any dings and scratches that I could get out. Some of the scratches were too deep to sand out, so I’ll just call those “character.” 🙂

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - sanding with 80-grit sandpaper - 2

I know a few of you were wondering if this would even work since the original finish didn’t sand off evenly, but I was pretty confident that it would work.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - sanding with 80-grit sandpaper - 4

One thing to know about the oil-based Waterlox* is that it’s an amber color, and it takes about two (sometimes three) coats to get it to its full color. So sometimes if you have a floor, table, or countertop that has several coats of Waterlox on it, and you sand out a blemish on it and recoat it, that spot that just has one coat won’t quite match because one coat isn’t really enough for it to reach its full depth of color. At least, that’s been my experience.

So even though I was quite certain that this plan would work out in the end, I was still a bit nervous that it would look pretty splotchy after the first coat. But it actually worked much better than I though it would!

I used a regular 2.5″ angled Purdy paint brush to cut in around the edges, and then used a lambswool applicator for the rest of the floor. I got this from Lowe’s.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - refinishing with new coats of Waterlox - 4

And here’s the sanded floor compared to the newly recoated floor…

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - refinishing with new coats of Waterlox - 1

Pretty nice, right?

Here’s the whole floor after I got the first coat on it yesterday evening. The Waterlox* was still very wet, which is why it’s so shiny and reflective.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - refinishing with new coats of Waterlox - 2

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - refinishing with new coats of Waterlox - 3

Now this morning after it was all dry, the floor did look a bit splotchy, but it wasn’t the color that looked splotchy. It was the finish, and that happens on the first coat of Waterlox* even when using it on bare wood. Because it’s a penetrating finish, the first coat doesn’t soak into the wood perfectly evenly. It’s recommended that Waterlox Original Finish* be used on the first coat, and that finish is pretty shiny. Since the first coat doesn’t soak in perfectly evenly, there are some areas where it’s shiny, and others where it’s dull. As you apply more coats, it starts to build up the finish evenly. And if you want a satin finish, you use Waterlox Satin Finish* on the very last coat.

So far I only have one coat, and other than the uneven sheen in areas, it looks so much better already! I think I’ll do two more coats — one more original, and one satin. Each coat has to dry for 24 hours before adding the next, but unlike polyurethane, there’s no need for sanding between coats. And then after all of the coats are on, I have to wait 72 hours before putting the furniture back. So I’ll finally be able to move everything back in on Sunday. Until then, I’ll have to keep myself busy on projects outside of this room.


My floor is finished! Here’s what it looks like now after two coats of Waterlox Original and one coat of Waterlox Satin.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - refinishing with new coats of Waterlox - 5

IMPORTANT! Please note that Waterlox can only be used over bare wood or wood that has been previously sealed with Waterlox. It cannot be used over polyurethane, wax, or any other kind of sealer/topcoat other than Waterlox.

And here’s a quick recap of the whole process of refreshing floors that have been previously sealed with Waterlox…

Recoating hardwood floors with Waterlox




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  1. The floor is looking gorgeous, Kristi. I hope it is as exciting for you as it is for an observer like me. Cheers, Ardith

    1. Matt loves just about everything I do. 🙂 He’s not very picky, though. He mostly just loves to see what I can do, and is very happy when I’m pleased with the outcome.

  2. How do you keep the cat from walking on the new floor? I have pets and it’s preventing me from working on my floors.

    1. Last night I just kept her in our bedroom until the floor was dry enough to walk on, which took about six hours, I think. Tonight, I plan to recoat the floor right before bed, and I’ll just put her back in the sunroom with her litter box, food, and water with the doors closed. It’ll be dry enough to walk on by morning.

  3. Pretty amazing!! It turned out beautiful–I have to admit, I was a skeptic that you could just spot fix your floor–I mean it was a mess before! What a transformation. I definitely want to learn more about Waterlox! Are there any downsides to it vs. the typical polyurethane coating? Does it scratch as easily? Just wondering, as our factory-finished hardwoods need refinishing!! Thanks, and keep up updated.

    1. I’ve never lived with polyurethaned floors, so I can’t speak from personal experience. I just know that polyurethaned floors can’t be spot sanded and recoated, and polyurethane has to be sanded between coats. Waterlox can be recoated at any time (given that you haven’t used any kind of wax treatment or waxy finish cleaner on the floors) with no sanding, and it can be spot-sanded and recoated. I personally haven’t found that it scratches easily at all. I’m VERY rough on my floors, and yet every time I mop them with the Waterlox brand cleaner, they clean up very nicely (well, except that paint overspray, drips, and primer drips). 🙂 They have quite a bit of info and several informational videos on their website, so check those out.

    2. Phyllis, I cannot speak to the finishing on floors, but we have done poly on wooden kitchen counters as well as Waterlox, and we like Waterlox far more. It works with the wood instead of creating a coating on top of it, if that makes any sense. It protects much better against water damage and scratches. Application: it shows no brush marks, whereas the poly dried so quickly that it did show marks. And for maintenance, there is absolutely no contest. With Waterlox, we just put another layer on after a year or so, whereas the poly had to be sanded back to bare wood. I will never do that again. Waterlox for us! Worth the cost.

      1. What if you want to strip Waterlox off? Is there a commercial stripping product like there is with polyurethane, or do you have to sand it?

  4. Omg, look at this, another room completely renovated/rebuilt and ready to decorate! Don’t you feel excited?

  5. I have a room I would love to try this Waterlox on! Are you going to be working on your chairs while you wait for the floor to dry???

    1. Either the chairs or the Roman shades. I ordered fabric for my Roman shades on Friday night, and it’s supposed to be here tomorrow. I’d love to make some progress on my chairs, though!

  6. The floor looks awesome.

    Can this product be used on any wood flooring? Any color? Our house has 130 year old heart pine floors that are in pretty good condition. I would love to bring the gleam back to them as you have to yours.

    We’ve been told not to actually refinish as sanding off the finish ruins the patina. But this product may work????

    Can it be used without sanding?

    Have you used this on darker woods, different species of wood?

    Thank you!

    1. Yes, it can be used on any species of wood as long as it doesn’t already have a sealer (poly, wax, etc.) on it. If the wood is already sealed with another product, it would need to be stripped/sanded first.

      I did try it on a darker wood — just a scrap and I can’t remember what type of wood it was. It turns the wood pretty much the same color as an oil-based polyurethane does. If I remember correctly, the directions say to wipe the raw wood down with mineral spirits to get an idea of the color that the Waterlox will turn the wood, although the Waterlox does have just a slight amber color to it.

  7. I first fell in love with your green kitchen and have followed you faithfully since then. Everything you have done is just perfect for your house and I would love to live in a house like yours.

  8. Kristi, the floor looks really alot better! Now everything will be new and fresh. That Waterlox seems like miraculous stuff. is it like tung oil? is the Waterlox kind of melting the old Waterlox underneath? How do you get into corners with that round sander? Do you do them by hand? Are you going to re-do the floor in the music room too? That room looked so pretty when you got done but I never got to see if you re-touched the floor. Well, your new dining room is going to look really pretty, I can’t wait to see your furniture in it. Can’t wait for Monday’s post!

    1. It actually is a tung oil product — a proprietary mix of tung oil and various hardeners so that the finish actually dries hard like a polyurethane finish does.

      And yes, new coats basically reactivate the coats below it and they meld together into one coat. Unlike polyurethane, which dries as individual coats, which is why each coat has to be sanded to give it “tooth” before adding a new coat on top.

      I will do the music room, but that will take some careful planning since that room (along with the hallway) is the main thoroughfare through the house — to the bedrooms, the bathroom, the kitchen, the front door, the back doors, etc. I’ll have to time it just right so that each coat can have plenty of time to dry at night when we’re sleeping, and be at least dry enough to walk on with socks by morning.

      1. Thanks Kristi! Mystery and intrigue solved! I cant wait to see your living room on Monday. I am seriously on pins and needles waiting to see how this comes out. Takes my mind off politics. And I have to say, your front room looks so much better than it did as a living room. It was cute, but you were right. Your interim living room decor was only putting lipstick on a pig, as you say. It was nice, but only a temporary fix. I did not understand that at the time when you got started with this new dining room project but now i see your vision.

  9. Love the ‘character’, lol. But that’s what gives a home its true personality, right? Your floors are looking wonderful, Kristi. Whatcha gonna work on while they dry, huh, huh, huh?

  10. she didn’t want to put down the paper because it would make it difficult for her wheelchair-bound husband to get around in those rooms.

  11. You should be very proud of all you have accomplished. Thanks for sharing all your trials, tribulations and successes!

    1. It’s quite strong, to be honest. And I made the mistake of forgetting to open the windows before I started, and didn’t realize until it was too late. If you can open windows and set up box fans to blow from the inside out, it’s much better.

  12. Looks so beautiful! Very happy for you to be at this point! Did the sanding process kick up much dust this go round? Did you have to clean all the trim? Not sure why, but cleaning up sanding dust is my nightmare! It’s all work, but that’s my least favorite!

    1. This time around, the sanding process with my little sander hooked up to the shop vac didn’t produce much dust at all, and none of it got kicked up into the air or onto the trim. Now the first time, when I had to get the original finish off and used the big drum sander, now THAT was awful! I had to use a breathing mask, and it created so much dust that after a couple of hours, I was COVERED with it, and it got into every nook and cranny in the house imaginable. And it took forever to vacuum all of it up with the shop vac.

  13. Wow! What a transformation already. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait till you get all your furniture back in there.

    1. She can shorten her name all she wants, but we all know that vitriol comes from none other than Mary Ann Looby.

      I believe Shakespeare once said, “a troll by any other name would be just as rude.” Or something like that.

  14. Just curious as to what is your point… you are perfect, everything in your life is perfect and you don’t have anything else to do; this is how you make yourself feel better; you are trying to show everyone how smart and knowledgeable you are…what? You say “I go back to a previous blog where I tried to remind you that your time is worth more”. Are you some kind of time keeping superhero, do you have a giant T on your chest? You say “we all get bored doing the same thing over and over” yet, by our own admission, you continue this over and over. Tell me please, I find your obsession fascinating. You say you are trying to understand; me too, how about some insight into this obsession you have. Last time I checked Kristi was self employed so I’m pretty sure you are not her manager so that can’t be it. Please peel that onion for me, let’s get to the root of it, I’m certain it will prove extremely interesting.

  15. Does it waterspot? the finish on our wood floors leave a dull spot if water gets on them even if I wipe it up immediately and I can’t buff, wax or oil it off.

    1. No, once it’s dry and cured, it doesn’t waterspot at all when water is dropped on it. That’s generally a characteristic of water-based products, I think. Or at least that has been my personal experience.

  16. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if finished floors looked shiny “wet” all the time?
    We got a “wet look” wax from a store and even that dulled after it dried.Sigh.

  17. Wow–splotchy or not–it looks beautiful!! This makes me think of possibilities I can do. However, maybe you should do a blog about the source for all your energy!

  18. I heart Waterlox. That stuff is awesome: beautiful finish AND user-friendly. Excited to see the final result!

  19. The problem is not that I haven’t answered your question. Because I’ve answered this over and over again.
    The problem is that you clearly disapprove of my method, and so you’re going to continue asking this and similar questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and OVER again until I “come to my senses” and admit that I’m wrong, you’re right, my method sucks, and you have all the answers and have been right all along.
    THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! So please, for the sake of my sanity and yours, just resign yourself to the fact that we work very differently and have different methods. I’ll NEVER do things your way. I do them MY way. This room has been in some sort of “in progress” stage since the ceiling drywall was replaced in April 2015, and I can’t even fathom living with paper covering my floor for an entire year in a house with a dog, a cat, a man in a wheelchair, normal household dirt and dust, and added dust and debris from continual projects. That’s just not even the slightest bit reasonable to me!

    And this…

    “If so, I go back to a previous blog where I tried to remind you that your time is worth more than you are giving it credit. Pay yourself as you would a contractor, you are worth it.”

    Once again….







    I really don’t know how I could possibly make that any clearer. Whether I do the same project over 10 times, or do 10 new projects, I make the same amount of money. Period. End of story.

  20. I got a plywood tabletop, It’s adopted it from downsizing inlaws. I’m researching how to finish it. They made it before I met them, It always had a table cloth on it, but it’s cabinet grade plywood with an edge. We know we want a fixable finish. This table is a natural landing zone for projects, forgotten dishes, and host game nights on it (dip drips, beer bottle rings), no baking or butchering on this. Our home came with a tin of danish oil, but we are open to plain mineral oil, and maybe waterlox.

    Is there a product/series of products you reccomend? I’m thinking of testing some mineral oil on the underside to see what color turns out. Eventually we will design a game table base (area to hide game set-up) that this top will land on or be modified for.

    1. I wouldn’t use plain mineral oil on a table where people may sit for extended periods, possibly with their arms on the table, or where board games, papers, mail, etc., might be placed. Since plain mineral oil has no hardeners in it, it always remains oily. Of course, you can wipe most of it off of the surface, but it still wouldn’t be my choice.

      I’d choose something that actually dries and hardens, and something oil-based. Oil-based polyurethanes would be very durable, as would Waterlox. Waterlox, in my opinion, is much easier to re-coat in the future as the table begins to show wear.

  21. Searching for info on refinishing hardwood floors led me to your site. Your insight and honesty are so inspiring… not to mention the finished floors are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!

    I read somewhere it is cheaper to purchase the drum and edge sander and sheets online than @ the rental store and was wondering about how many sheets you went through per room when you did your large floor project? We are doing 3 bedrooms, a hallway and a large living room…


    1. I honestly can’t remember, but I when using the really super coarse sheets, I don’t remember going through them quickly. It seems like a standard size bedroom took maybe three of each grit. I think I started with something like 36-grit (can’t remember exactly, but it was a VERY coarse paper), and then 60, then 80, then 100, then 120.