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We’re finally done refinishing the spare room! Jake and I have been working on it in our spare time for months, and it is finally livable! If you need a refresher, here’s the before.

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The most time consuming part of fixing up this room was paint removal. I’ve already talked about the back breaking horror that is removing paint from trim and getting the last sections of paint from the floor was no picnic either. It wouldn’t have been all that time consuming if I’d just used chemical stripper, but I was trying to figure out how to remove it without pulling up the finish on the floor.

So I scrubbed and scrubbed by hand using hot tea, then used a scrubber attachment for my hand drill for the really stubborn bits. Which ended up removing the finish anyway.

I could have saved myself a lot of time and aching shoulders if I hadn’t been trying to cut corners from the beginning.

I had an excuse: our house is over a hundred years old, and if the floor has been sanded too many times, the wood would have splintered. We wanted to avoid this if at all possible.

We finally faced the music and realized it was sanding time and decided that, if worst comes to worst, we’d have to put down new (cheaper, not as pretty) wood.

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So we rented a sander. Our budget wasn’t huge for this project, so we did the trick of renting it close to closing time so we’d get to keep it overnight and still get charged for only 4 hours.

Jake made sure to pick up lots of extra sandpaper, figuring he could return what we didn’t use. Good thing, too, because we ended up needing all of it. Jake and I took turns on the sander, and this was the result:

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We messed it up. Turns out, we should have gotten a drum sander and not a square sander. Also turns out that, though everything we read said the direction you move the sander doesn’t really matter with this type, it does. When we moved across the grain, the result was those stripes you see.

We also should have watched how-to videos first instead of just reading, because it took us a long time to figure out that, for effective sanding, you have to move the sander back and forth quickly, rather than the slow snail pace we thought was correct. We also should have gotten a lot more of the coarsest grit of sandpaper. The finish it took off gummed it up and we weren’t able to get all of the finish off before switching to the next sandpaper level. (You use progressively less coarse sandpaper as you go.)

So totally not perfect. Not all down to bare wood. But the best we could do with our time frame and budget.

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Then it was staining time. For this step, we were smart enough to watch videos first. Jake laid it down and I went in behind him and wiped up the excess. Teamwork!

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Last step was laying down several coats of polyurethane. (Jake did that part by himself.)

You can see the progression from bare wood to stained wood to finished wood in this picture.

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As a last step, I touched up all of the paint and got into the corners and by the ceiling.

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You can see all of our mistakes on the floor, but I don’t really care. This is the same character of the wood on all of our old wood doors anyway. It looks even better with furniture in it!

We’re fostering a baby right now, and this is currently her room. I’ll show off the decorated result soon: just have to make curtains and get a few things on the walls!

I love how this room turned out and am also grateful for all I’ve learned–refinishing other rooms in the house will be a breeze after this.


This year it’s my goal to complete 52 Projects. Projects can be art, crafts, home improvement, tech, gardening, or whatever else my brain might venture into. They might be collaborative or independent. The point is to MAKE.

This is project 4-7 of 52! Check out the other projects: 1: Class Quilt / 2: Valentines with Eliza / 3: Crabitat.