Refinishing Hardwood Floors
I love hardwood floors. Not only do I like the look and feel of them, there is nothing more practical for my lifestyle. I grew up with dogs, cats, dirt, muddy shoes, messy crafts- carpet was not an option for my family.
My husband, on the other hand, remembers nothing more fondly than wrestling his brothers on the carpeted play room or building pillow forts on the plush floor. The carpet vs. wood became a debate when we started searching for our first house together.
I ended up winning- partly because I'm stubborn and my husband is a saint, but also because we have two rowdy dogs, an often sticky toddler, and we chose a house in the country where dirt, mud, and more are plentiful.
The farmhouse we now call home, had beautiful wide-plank floors, rich in history, but completely painted over. I knew one of the first things I wanted done was those floors and when sanding and refinishing them turned out to be reasonably-priced, we didn't hesitate.
Our contractor ended up recommending an oil finish for the floor- he explained that it soaked in to the fibers of the wood, enhancing the grains and protecting the wood better than a polyurethane finish, which only creates a top layer of protection over the wood and scratches easily. After sanding all the paint off, choosing a stain color, and buffing the floors, the oil finish required 36 hours with nothing/no one walking on it and about a week to fully cure. We have since been pleasantly surprised how much we love our floors day after day.
The 3 Main Differences We've Noticed Between Oil and Poly
The oil finish really does do a wonderful job when it comes to durability. Between two large dogs with nails, constantly moving heavy furniture, and various ride-on toys we pull our daughter along on inside the house, we have never made a mark on our floors. Here I was worried I was going to have to police all the rough-housing, when instead I can celebrate it without worry!
Our floors are not shiny. Some people love the shiny, polyurethane floors. I'll admit I even find it beautiful, not to mention how lovely it looks in photographs! Our floors have more of a rustic, matte look to them. It was a bit of an adjustment but I love the look just as much, and find it very fitting for this home in particular.
Our floors are harder to clean than traditional, polyurethane floors. Or maybe they just show dirt more easily! Either way, since there isn't a shiny, smooth coating on top of the floors, sweeping is less effective and a special oil-based cleaner is required when damp mopping.
There are a lot of options when it comes to flooring, and a ton more comparisons between oil and polyurethane, but I can say we are incredibly happy with how our floors turned out. I can also happily say I have converted my husband to a hardwood fan- our toddler has recently started a new phase where she takes a bite of something, then spits it out on the floor and stomps on it a few times as hard as she can. So glad we don't have carpet right now!