Dining Room Entryway

Time To Address My Hardwood Floors (Paint Overspray, Paint Spills, Scratches, Etc.)

Last Updated on October 8, 2017 by Kristi Linauer

I get asked about my floors on a pretty regular basis, and for obvious reasons. In just about every picture of my dining room progress, you can see paint spills on the floor and overspray by the baseboards.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - 1

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - 2

Obviously, I just haven’t been really careful with my floors. The reason is because from the beginning, my plan was to do a quick refinishing of the floor in each room as I finished the remodeling phase (e.g., new drywall on the ceiling and walls, and any building projects) of each room, and before the decorating started. And that’s why I was sure to choose a product for my floors that could be pretty easily touched up and/or recoated any time my floors needed it.

The reason I planned it that way? To eliminate any potential anxiety about messing up my floors. I just knew from the outset that tearing each room down to the studs and ceiling joists…

dining room ceiling 2

…while trying to keep the floors in perfect condition would be virtually impossible. Also, I knew that along the way I’d be opening up walls and expanding openings, like I did in the wall between the dining room and kitchen. That used to be a solid wall. Remember?

new cased opening in load bearing wall from dining room to kitchen - 5

That means I’d have some pretty major flooring repairs to do in most of the rooms…

repairing hardwood floor in new doorway - 2

…and I’d end up with areas like this with patched hardwood floor boards that needed to be sanded and sealed to blend in with the rest of the floor.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - 3

And then there were other things that I didn’t count on, like this area that was underneath the window unit air conditioner. The A/C leaked water all over my floor for a few days before I realized it, and it damaged the floor.

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - 4

Anyway, since I knew from the moment that we bought this house that there would be some pretty major remodeling and building going on, and that these floors would need some attention as I finished up each room, I made sure that I selected a finish that could be easily repaired. Polyurethane was out of the question since that requires some pretty major refinishing if something happens to the floors. So after doing lots of research on various options, I finally decided on Waterlox, which is a proprietary blend of tung oil mixed with various hardeners. It’s very easy to retouch spots that get messed up on the floors. If your floor gets scratched, you can just repair that scratch, and it’ll blend right into the rest of the floor.

The obvious question I get asked is, “So why didn’t you just wait to refinish your floors? Why go to the trouble before you moved in to the house if you were going to have to redo them?”

Well, let me take you back two-and-a-half years, and I think that answer might be obvious. 🙂 Two words: green carpet.

Living room 05 - resized

We’ve been in this house two-and-a-half years, and not only is there absolutely no way that I would have been able to look at that carpet every day until I was able to remodel/redecorate each room, but also having carpet in a house with someone in a wheelchair is just not practical.

And underneath all of that carpet was lots of carpet glue, tack strips, and warped floor boards. It was just so much easier to get all of that old carpet and carpet pad cleared out, and do all of the major refinishing with the big drum sander before we even moved into the house.

refinished hardwood floors - correctly sanded - 2

It was SUCH a big, messy, dusty job, and I’m so glad I didn’t have to actually live in the house during that project. There was dust in every crack, crevice, nook, and cranny imaginable after sanding with that machine. But it did a great job, made quick work of removing all of the carpet glue and old finish, and flattened out all of the cupped floor boards beautifully.

What I’ve got now is not only much less labor intensive, but it also creates virtually no mess. I just need to do some quick and easy spot sanding with my hand held sander that’s hooked up to my shop vac…

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - sanding with 80-grit sandpaper - 1

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

hardwood flooring with paint overspray and spills - sanding with 80-grit sandpaper - 3

And once that’s done, I’ll add probably two more coats of Waterlox and my floor will look good a new. Or, you know, good as newly refinished 68-year-old hardwood flooring. 🙂


My mini floor refinishing project is done! Click here for more info

Mini floor refinishing project

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Woo hoo! I love a nice gleaming hardwood floor. Hate, hate wall-to-wall carpet. So excited to see the final reveal with the dining room all dressed up. It all came out so beautiful. I love seeing your vision come to life. I wish I knew about Waterlox before we refinished our wood floors with poly 7 years ago.

    BTW, I used one of your tool recommendations and got a DeWalt orbital sander. I love it soooo much more than my old sander. It leaves a satin finish and hardly vibrates in my hand at all. So glad I read that post! Thanks for the tool suggestions–they are so helpful coming from someone who’s tried them beforehand.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Judy Maracle Steppacher
    May 5, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I am repairing our hardwood floors also (house built in 1904). I was wondering where you got the Waterlox from and how to apply it? I love your blog 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 5, 2016 at 9:30 am

      I buy mine directly from the Waterlox website. I use the Waterlox Original — two coats of medium sheen followed by one coat of satin. They’ve got great directions and videos on their website.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan C
    May 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I wonder how to know what is in my existing floor? You just make sense, girl!! Wish I had your foresight!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I have never heard of Waterlox beore – How is Waterlox different than polyurethane?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Love that as you’re fixing your floors, your new curtains are folded neatly on the window sill so as not to lose your pleats 🙂 I never knew you could ‘train’ your drapes before you wrote about it the other day. I’ve got my new curtains neatly folded and tied up right now trying to get rid of the messy ‘A’ shaped hang. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kay Rowe
    May 5, 2016 at 9:52 am

    You share such great “common-sense” information. Many THANKS!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I think this makes perfect sense. Hope it’s a relatively easy project for you. I wish they made- fantasy alert – like a liquid that Diyers could just roll on that would harden but sit on top of hardwood, laminate, tile, etc, as like a sacrificial floor, that would then just peel right up when finished 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

    When we ripped the carpets out of our 1939 house, I was shocked find that the painters of some earlier era had used the beautiful, blond oak floors as a platform on which to spray paint numerous cabinet doors. There were lots of rectangles framed with white overspray. (I thought they would have had more reverence for wood.) Fortunately, it was not the disaster it appeared. The floor refinisher had no problems sanding it off.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I am really curious if your use of the Waterlox on the sanded portions will work as you describe. I used Waterlox for a butcher block countertop for the same reasons you describe. However, when I sanded out a few spots and reapplied the Waterlox, in the sanded spots and all over the counter, those spots never blended in. It was obvious. So I look at the sanded parts of your floor and cringe. I hope it works for you and that I can learn how to avoid whatever I did previously in my new place.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Your floors will look amazing once you get them sanded and recounted. Looking forward to it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    If I ever get to do hardwood in my home, I think Waterlox wpuld be my choice. Did you use a stain first? L9ve seeing the curtains being trained! Can’t wait to try that!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Unbelievable – 2-1/2 yrs

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Yay! I’ve been waiting for you to get to this point! I think this will be THE moment where the room stops looking like a work in progress and starts looking like a beautiful space. It’s fun seeing your process and bringing a room together.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    May 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

    And now we are enlightened. There really IS a method to your madness… (wink)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I’m intrigued by your use of Waterlox rather than polyurethane. I am putting hardwood on my floors a room at a time & have used polyurethane in all. My high traffic areas look the same today as when I put them down. The only change in my floors is in the kitchen where I have a large south facing bay window. The floor looks lighter, but they still look nice. The next room will be my living room and I’d like to know your thoughts as to what finish to use. Thanks for your help! I have loved everything you’ve done since I started reading and am looking forward to your final product.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Thought I would share what a contractor with whom I sometimes work does about protecting flooring in homes where he has a lot of construction. He lays down full sheets of plywood and even cuts around doorways and such so that he can freely work without having to worry about dropping things, or in some other way ruining someone’s floor. It seems like a lot of work to me, but it works for him. At the end of the job, he collects his boards and the floor is exactly the way it was before he got there. The only problem I’ve encountered is one time the painter on the job complained that she wasn’t able to paint the baseboard moldings very well because those plywood boards were too close to it and she couldn’t get her brush in there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rebecca B
    May 5, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    It will sure be exciting to see your re – refinished floors with the new decor. Did you ever re do the floors in the music room? I sure would like to see a picture of the final product.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Paat hawkins
      May 5, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Yes she did. She did ALL the floors before moving in. You should be able to see her older posts of finished/in-process rooms…😊

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann rourke
    May 5, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    This was another one of your posts where I got up to show my husband the before and after photos of your room! Unbelievable…then I add, “….and she does it all by herself!”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I am considering refinishing my very scratched up hardwood. Would you recommend the drum sander over the orbital floor sander? I don’t have any pad or glue to remove.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 6, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Okay, I need to bookmark this article, print it, photograph it and tattoo it on my forehead!!!!! I didn’t know about alternatives to poly and I sand and finish a lot of floors when flipping. This sounds so much better!! I’m guessing once the poly is down, you can’t do this over top without removing it?? If so, this will be a great product for the future.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 6, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I’m really interested in seeing how those floors clean-up. My home has hardwoods and the idiot who installed them (the previous owner, who was a hardwood floor installer and should have known better) polyurethaned AROUND the fridge and didn’t bother to seal the bottoms of the closets at all. Someday, I’m going to have to deal with it, and it’d be nice to find a product that you can spot-repair. I realize I’ll have to strip the poly off, but it’d still be nice to have a product that can repair or re-coat thereafter.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Kristi, how long does a Waterlox finish last? Next time we have our floors done I’ll have to choose between water based and the polyurethane it has now. We have two big dogs and many guests at times. I do really like the idea of being able to repair the floor without a major overhaul.
    I love watching the progression of projects and ideas. My daughter in Texas has stained concrete floors and I was thinking that could have been an option for you while going through the reconstruction process. Maybe you don’t like the look?
    Love the room and all the love it takes to make it.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

      In my estimation, the finish will stay beautiful for years and years with proper care and normal use. My use is anything but “normal,” which is why mine required refinishing after only 2.5 years. But most households don’t have the constant, ongoing, major construction projects, and the accompanying mess and tools and everything else that goes along with it. I’m VERY hard on my floors. But with normal use, I think it would be every bit as durable as polyurethane, and much easier to fix in case of damage.

      My house is on a pier and beam foundation, and not a slab foundation, so concrete floors were never an option for me. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Am in awe of your skills, what you are willing to tackle despite lack of experience, how much
    research you do, sustainable alternative choices, and sheer tenacity in getting stuff done !

    Is this a good alternative to getting the floors professionally done ? Smell ? toxicity ?
    Can I do my floor using a palm sander instead of renting a drum sander ? My floor was
    refinished eons ago but now has spots of water damage; an area damaged by sap from a
    cut tree trunk that we thought was sufficiently dry; burn spots from the woodburning stove, etc.