How to restore wood’s natural beauty without sanding off patina
Glossy amber floors, meet natural antique heart pine.
Refinishing the downstairs floors was one of my first projects—and one of the only ones I had time to finish before moving in. Or so I thought! To be honest, there are still two rooms downstairs that have been sanded but have yet to be sealed.
But in my mind, it’s pretty much a done deal. And I have to tell myself that because it’s been such a long journey. This was truly my most stressful project to date on this house, which was especially disheartening because it was the FIRST.
For video footage, check out my DIY Refinish highlight at @reneerenovates.
Sanding antique heart pine floors
Things started out well. I rented a square buff sander from the box store—purposefully avoiding the drum sander for fear of ruining my floors. The buff sander also ensured that I only removed the yellowed oil-based polyurethane and not the natural floor patina. Over the course of an entire day, I buffed off all of the poly coat. My original plan was to stain the floors dark walnut. Then, to my great surprise, I learned that 1) the floors were antique heart pine and 2) it does not accept stain.
Sadly, this did not keep me from trying (see below). Which led me to have to rent the sander two more times for two of the rooms (yes, those two rooms that are still unsealed ).
Staining and sealing
As I said, it’s been a journey. But the good news is that I love the way they turned out. Once I let go of my dark floor dreams and embraced the natural, unmatchable patina of my heart pine floors, all was well. I sealed all of the divots from old termite damage with stainable Minwax wood filler, painted the filler with a water-based stain to match, and used a sealant combination of Bona Natural Seal, Novia Satin, and Traffic HD Matte to achieve my natural-looking floors with a hint of sheen.
Total DIY savings: $7,000+
I absolutely love the floors now, and based on a quote I received from a refinishing specialist, I saved at least $7000 by restoring this 1200 sq. ft. of heart pine myself.
When I finally seal the front hallway and master bedroom (the two remaining rooms), I’ll share the Bona sealing process so that you can follow along step by step. If an impatient amateur like myself can do it, so can you!