Monthly Archives: September 2008

Refinishing More Woods Floors, Without Sanding

Finished Hallway Floor, originally uploaded by espeedy123.


In my blog dashboard it’s so interesting to look at the search words that lead people here. Wood floor refinishing without sanding, or some combo of those terms, is always near the top.

Here’s the before image of that photo above:


We recently finished redoing the remaining 50-year-old red oak floors in our house. Before we moved in all that space was covered with old carpet.

This last project included the den, hallway and a couple bedrooms with various closets. We refinished the rest earlier in three phases over the course of about a year. One room we did ourselves, the other two we hired professional help. All three sections received a different treatment or finish, and they all now look surprisingly the same.

Here are the main takeaways from all this:

  • For goodness sake if you’re going to refinish your floor do it before you move in. I learned this the hard way. Whatever inconvenience or rent you might have to endure on the front end will make up for headaches that come from moving too much stuff, dusting things, waiting for the floor to dry, etc.
  • Floor professionals, especially wood refinishers, have a vested interest in telling you that you need the entire finish sanded off, new quarter round applied, and so on. In many cases glue and other issues can be scraped or screened off. These remedies worked for me.
  • Old varnish finishes can be recoated with modern polyurethane or wax, as long as the old finish is thoroughly cleaned and prepared. When we redid the office floor, we applied wax which looks pretty decent (although it attracts dust).
  • The den, hallway and bedrooms are poly over old varnish that was screened first. The key there is to find a floor guy who won’t short you on the number of coats of sealant the floor will need.  Honestly I thought about asking the guy back to apply one last coat to the bedrooms, but the rug covers so much it didn’t seem worth it.  Old floors suck up the finish.
  • The formal living and dining area floor is a varnish/resin finish that was applied over the old varnish. It looks best out of all the areas, probably because that floor was walked on least, and because varnish is nice looking.
  • The more you know about your floor, the better your outcome.  Testing to figure out old treatments, and testing anything you intend to use on the floor to guage reaction ahead of time, will help create a better outcome.

What You Should Know Before Redoing Your Yard


I wrote a piece that ran in Friday’s Dallas Morning News about landscape design classes around Dallas.  What makes this story interesting is that I’d actually taken the three seminars/classes that I write about.  I wrote about my experience in first person.  For the cover image, similar to the one above, the editor had an artist lay out some of my sketches and printouts I’ve collected about my own yard, so it’s really weird to see that in the newspaper!  The web version shows the coffee ring my backyard sketch got from sitting on my messy desk.  How was I to know it would become famous?  😉

The three options I write about are a one-day Neil Sperry class, a 6-week night course at SMU, and one-on-one coaching at North Haven Nursery.  For most people the Sperry class is probably the best deal.  You can read the entire explanation here.

Wood Floor Project

Ruby Misses the Carpet, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Ruby’s posing quite nicely isn’t she?

She’s actually protesting here. She’s upset that we removed the stinky old wall-to-wall carpet.

Over the past couple weeks we took out the rest of the carpet from the den, hallway and bedrooms. My mom came from Amarillo to help me do things like pull out the tackstrip. It was an enormous amount of work and I couldn’t have done it without her.

We hired Ken from Heaven’s Scent Flooring to buff and screen the floors, which I’ll detail in a future post. In the meantime I had to post this photo of my puppy and the new-to-me rug that Michael and I picked up at a recent estate sale.

Saving Pesto

Excess Basil, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

To make way for more fall seedlings I pulled out a couple basil plants that had become quite overgrown in my raised garden. There was so much of it that it took a good hour or so to pick off all these leaves from a single plant.

A good way to store basil is by making pesto and then freezing it. If you freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray and then repackage the cubes, it makes for easy retrieval and use later on.

My pesto recipe is….

1-2 garlic cloves
2 cups basil
2 oz. parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste, at least a couple teaspoons

Whirred up in the food processor, this is tough to beat. I find it it difficult to mess this up, especially if you adjust the flavors at the end for acidity and salt. If you find yourself without enough basil, throw in some spinach to extend the amount of sauce the recipe produces.