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I live in a small townhouse and would like to refinish the floors in the upstairs of my home.

It is very difficult to do all of the rooms at once, but a friend suggested that unless I do this, the transitions between the rooms and the central hallway will not look right.

I understand his point but I am hoping it's possible. Has anyone refinished wooden floors one room at a time?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I refinished the floors in my house (built in 1940's and originally hardwood floors). At some time, carpet had been put over the top in all rooms.

When I purchased the house, there was carpet in one room and the previous owner had ripped up the carpets in the other rooms and only used an ugly wood stain in their pathetic attempt to "refinish".

I ripped out the carpet in the one room and sanded all rooms down. Naturally, the unstained room is a bit lighter than the rest of the rooms. However, it doesn't matter that much, because;

It's a different room with different paint colors, different lighting, and different furniture.

If you're using a drum sander and the wood strips are oriented across any of your doorways, then regardless, you won't be able to make it exact. (You'll have to use the edge sander in that area.) Just use the same pass techniques and sand grits and each room and it should turn out well.

Tips

  • Use a box fan in the window and pointing OUTward to help suck out sawdust.
  • If your floor is uneven, do diagonal/angled passes, then the normal passes.
  • Don't nitpick while you're sanding; a mark that looks severe when you're sanding may add character when refinished.
  • After the first finish coat, do a high-grit LIGHT sand and wipe.
  • Once your furniture is in the room, it looks a lot better.
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This won't be useful if you plan to sand and varnish as most people do, but I like antiques including old floors. I have gone around one room at a time with kneepads, coarse steel wool, and linseed oil. Just rub hard (I mean use the steel wool to rub the oil into the wood, which scrapes up dirt while you rub) and then wipe with paper towels (wet them before disposal otherwise they can catch fire spontaneously). Takes an hour or two for each room, total cost probably $50 for the whole house. The result is clean, natural, smells good, no dust, and has a lot of character. Most people might not like it but I do. Doesn't work at all on newer impervious finishes but good for older floors.

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If you are staining the floor, it may be hard to get a good match. My floors are natural oak covered with a clear coat. I installed a new oak floor (was carpet) in my office three years after the house was built and it matches perfectly. I bought the floor boards and the varnish from the same dealer the builder did.

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You could install a thin threshold between each room. That would cover the overlap in finish between the rooms.

If the planks run parallel to the doors, you could cut out one board between the two rooms. That would give a clean line between finishes (and place the one board back at the end.

All that said, you will save a TON in labor if you just do it all at once.

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putting in transition strips will ruin the flow that continuous wood floors give you –  jberger Apr 6 '12 at 20:09
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