Refinishing My Red Oak Hardwood Floors – The Sanding Progress

I finally have progress to share on refinishing my red oak hardwood floors, starting with the sanding progress. I plan to stain and polyurethane the floors myself, but since I sanded all of the hardwood floors throughout the house the first time around (right after we bought the house), I decided to give myself a break this time and hire out the sanding process.

This is a multi-post project. Don’t miss the other posts in this project!

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Here’s the progress so far. The breakfast room doesn’t look much different than it did before since it and the pantry had brand new red oak hardwood flooring (installed about three months ago) that had never been finished. But it’s a lot smoother now!

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - breakfast room

And here’s a look at the floor in the pantry…

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - pantry

One of my main concerns has been the transitions between rooms. I didn’t expect much difference between the kitchen and the breakfast room since the kitchen floor was only installed about two years ago, but there is actually a slight difference. That one really light board is deceiving. It’s just a random light board. But the flooring on either side of that light board still looks slightly different. I’m hoping it’s not so much that it’ll be noticeable after it’s stained.

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - breakfast room to kitchen

They did the kitchen floor last, and just did one initial pass over the floor, so it still needs quite a bit of work.

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - kitchen

There’s lots of the old finish (the Waterlox finish) that still needs to be sanded away, and the areas around the cabinets are going to be a real headache. I’m so glad I hired this out!

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - kitchen 2

Interestingly, the transition from the kitchen to the living room was one of the worst with the previous finishes on those floors. The kitchen was very red, and the living room was very orange. But now that it’s been sanded, I can’t really tell a difference. In this picture, the kitchen is at the bottom of the picture, and the living room is at the top…

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - kitchen to living room

Here’s a picture taken looking the other direction, with the living room at the bottom, and the kitchen at the top. I still can’t tell much (if any) difference.

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - living room to kitchen

So I’m hoping that those will stain evenly.

And here’s the living room taken from the entryway wall…

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - living room

And from that same position, looking into the music room…

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - entryway to music room

The transition from the music room to the kitchen wasn’t really bad before with the finish. Even though the kitchen was so much redder and the music room was so much more orange, the difference never really showed up much in this doorway. But now with it sanded, I can see more of a difference.

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - music room to kitchen
red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - music room

I’m just really hoping that the stain will cover all of those differences. I don’t want to have to do a custom mix of stain for the kitchen and breakfast room/pantry!!

I’ve been anxious to see the hallway floor sanded. If you remember, I had to do quite a bit of floor patching just out side the bathroom door when I moved the door over and widened it. They didn’t sand the area right up to the tile yet, but I think it’s going to look just fine when it’s stained and sealed…

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - hallway to bathroom

I also had to do quite a bit of floor patching in the opening between the music room and the hallway where I widened that opening, but it looks like it’ll all be pretty well disguised once it’s finished. Please excuse the litter box. 🙂 Boo, Peeve, Matt and I have been holed up in the bedroom while they’re sanding, and we keep everything we all need in the room with us. But we have to put the animals out of the room at night, so I just shoved their stuff out into the hallway before we went to bed. 😀

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - hallway

I hadn’t originally planned on having them sand my office floor. I didn’t think I could get the room cleared out in time, and this room isn’t really on my radar for this year. But I had some extra time on my hands on Tuesday, so I decided to clear it out and have them sand in there as well.

red oak hardwood floors sanded before staining - my office

So it’s getting there! I’m just so anxious to get the stain down. I can’t wait to see what that will look like! No more orange floors. 🙂

In other news, did I ever show y’all my new breakfast room door?

new door in breakfast room

I got one with glass because I’m going to eventually install windows in my garage, and I’ll take natural light into my house anywhere I can get it. 🙂 Plus, I thought it would be nice for Matt to be able to glance out and see if I’m in the garage without having to open the door.

I had the same style door installed in our bedroom, along with a screen door. And let me tell you, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made! It’s not only convenient, but it’s absolutely glorious being able to sit in bed with my laptop next to that open door with the screen door on a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly and the breeze blowing through. I mean…BEST.DECISION.EVER. Matt and I both have thoroughly enjoyed it, and both of us have agreed that we should have had that door installed a long time ago.

This is a multi-post project. Don’t miss the other posts in this project!

Refinishing Hardwood Floors



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  1. Those floors look great and should stain out very well. Love that you were able to add your office to it, as well.

    Good idea with the windowed doors in the breakfast and bedrooms. Wherever you can get light and air is always good.

  2. Progress! So happy for you and glad you went ahead and started your office. It is going to look SO good!! If only I could a few things done around my house!

  3. Kristi, I think it’s so interesting that you put a glass panel door to your garage!

    Our door to the garage needs to be replaced, and I, too, wanted to put a door with a lite panel in it. My husband and Dad (who’s my co-conspirator on projects) looked at me like I was out of my mind – like why do we want to look at dirty cars and storage in the garage from inside the house?!

    But, our door from the garage leads to a window-less mudroom that gets NO natural light to speak of. I thought by putting a door with glass, we’d get some natural light from the garage (which has a window and an exterior door with glass panel). Plus, when my kiddo is out with his merry band of neighbor friends, I can see all of their shenanigans from another vantage point inside the house.

    I feel very validated by your post – so thanks! =)

    1. FWIW, we have a door with a big jalousie window connecting our kitchen and the garage. In our reno we debated replacing it with a fire door, (since we didn’t *have* to touch it, our code department wasn’t requiring it), but we like the light when the garage is open (a lot since we’re out there all the time) and the ability to open the window and have cross breeze since our house is really lacking when it comes to cross breeze.

      So feel validated by our window-ed garage door as well!

  4. Kristi, how much more would the floor people charge to finish floors. Completely?Sanding was so much quicker than if you tackled it.yourself. And they are the ones who would be responsible for matching it all. It will take the professionals a day or two or three , and you probably weeks and lots of headaches. You could really move on

  5. Wow, you must love living in Texas. Sitting by an open door feeling the breeze is absolutely unthinkable this time of year in Idaho 😉

  6. Kristi, is that a fire rated door you put in between the house and the garage?
    If so, do you mind sharing where you got it? I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced, nice looking, fire rated, glass panel, garage door for a while, without much luck.

    It seems like all the ones I’ve found are ridiculously expensive.

    I’ve considered just forsaking the mandatory fire rating, but we’ll be selling this house in a few years, and then would have to swap it out again, and I’m worried about the insurance using it as an excuse to not pay out, if something were to happen. We had a house in our street burn down a few months ago, and the insurance company refused to pay them, because somebody DIYed the electrical without permits, and it wasn’t up to code.

  7. What floors will be left after this to sand and refinish? Will it be harder to match them to these later? Or just eyeball it?

    1. The only existing floor left will be in Matt’s game room. I don’t think it’ll be hard to match to the rest of the house. I’m not going to bother with doing our bedroom since it’ll eventually be the master bathroom with a tile floor. Of course in the future, there will be a whole addition that will need hardwood floors, and it’ll have to be matched to these. That might be harder, but I’ll let Future Kristi worry about that. 😀

  8. Besides the fact that I love everything you do, and I learn a lot….I love that your cats make it into the pics!

  9. SO glad you subcontracted this project. (You ARE the GC, so the term applies.) Just because you’re capable of DIY does not mean you have to do everything. I also “up-vote” having the floor stained by a sub, it will be done all at once and the finished product should be evenly toned. I’m a fresh air addict so I can imagine how you are loving the new bedroom door. Very happy for you and Matt.

  10. Kristi, love the look of your sanded floors. Saw that huge pile of sawdust…..was that the overflow from the bag on the sander? Also, wanted to ask you if there are cracks/gaps between any of the boards that need to be filled? If so, could you show how they did that? .

    1. You would have to use a red oak wood filler. I use Hardwood flooring filler : Woodside or Dura Seal wood flooring filler. They make it certain for the type/species of wood you have which doesn’t break out/crack easily after finish is applied and stains to blend/match the flooring so isn’t eye catching.

  11. The new flooring looks like Red Oak, the existing, from just seeing by pic, looks like White Oak, which is why the Red Oak looks lighter because White Oak Is more on the Brown side. If stained Neutral, it will stand out. Staining it dark, which I would do using a Spice Brown or darker, will be less noticeable!

  12. Can’t wait to see the stain go down. We are going to be sanding our hard wood floor in the near future and concerned about kitty footprints. Looks like your kitty is pretty brave among all those sanders.

  13. A flurry of activity in the world of Kristi, exciting! I’d be on one hand all zen because of all of what’s been accomplished and on another hand all overwhelmed at what was now on my plate! Girl Power!

  14. I am so surprised at how well your 50 year old red oak flooring looks compared to your new red oak flooring! Is that a big pile of dusty sawdust mixed with varnish in your office? I love it when Peeve is in your pictures. Peeve is just too cute! I hope Boo does not eat kitty crunchies out of the litter box.