That Time we Stripped our own Floors


We have spent the last week working on our floors! We knew from the moment we first saw our house that if we bought it, we’d rip out all the old carpet and strip the floor back to the wood underneath. We also knew we wouldn’t have the thousands of dollars needed to pay someone else to do it, so it would be up to us. Though plenty of people warned us doing our own floors would be difficult, exhausting and generally awful, we were determined! So last weekend we hired a drum sander and got to work.

Carpet Before

Here’s a glimpse of some of the carpets that were in the house before we started. This picture was taken in the hall, at the corner of the two end bedrooms. Every room had different carpet. It was all very old and very, very stained and smelly.

Second Bedroom Stage 1

Our first task was to rip up the old carpet. It hadn’t been laid very well so was quite easy to pull up, but was rather disgusting. The carpet was filthy and in one bedroom reeked of cat pee!

Second Bedroom Stage 2

The floorboards under the carpet were stained and random sections of the floor had been varnished but, luckily, the boards themselves were all in reasonably good condition. After we had pulled up the carpet we had to remove all the staples and nails that had been holding it down, then use a nail punch on all the nails in the floorboards, before we could sand. Yes, you did read that right. Every. Single. Nail.

Once all the staples and nails had been sorted, we began the epic task of sanding the floorboards with the drum sander. We stripped the floors in the three bedrooms, two hallways and living room, and the drum sanding portion of the job took about two days. We went over the floor in each room around three times with 40 grit sandpaper, then twice with 100 grit. We were terrified of damaging and gouging the floors but we took our time and were very careful, and thankfully, we didn’t have any major mishaps. Once we had the knack of things, the task was really more monotonous than anything.

Second Bedroom Stage 3

This picture was taken after the floor was sanded back with the drum sander. As you an see, the drum sander couldn’t reach the outer edge of the room and some of the less even patches on the floor.

Second Bedroom Stage 4

The edges and small bits that the drum sander couldn’t reach have to be sanded by hand, so we have used a belt sander and a detail sander for this. This shot was taken after hand sanding (that dark line you can see is just the bottom of the wood skirting board that was revealed when we ripped up the carpet, not varnish on the floor boards). We’re still in the process of hand sanding the hallways and living room at the moment (and that has been the most time consuming and tedious part of the whole process so far) but all going well we should be done sanding by early next week! Then we’re going to use tinted tung oil to finish the floors.

Though this hasn’t been a fun job, it has been really rewarding. Reubs and I certainly wouldn’t rush into stripping our own floors again, but I think we’re both glad we did it this time. It’s been a huge learning experience and we are going to be extremely proud of ourselves when those floorboards are done!

Hopefully we’ll be back to share pictures of our gorgeous finished floors very soon. Think happy renovating thoughts for us!

Katie x

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About Katie

Katie is a tea drinking, jewellery making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights.


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40 Responses to “That Time we Stripped our own Floors”

  1. Constanze February 2, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    Wow! You two did a great job! So much work but it was worth it… I love all your house and renovation posts, so inspiring to read! Love – from the other end of the world -, Constanze

  2. Allie H February 2, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Katie & Reuben,

    I am so proud of you two for tackling this job yourselves. When you’re on a tight budget, it’s time to do it yourself. This is a big job but you two are totally kicking its bottom! I can’t wait to see the finished floors. This is going to make such a big difference in your sweet humble *home*. Keep up the amazing, incredible, and inspiring work!

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

      Thank you so much Allie! xx

  3. Bekuh February 2, 2013 at 1:45 am #

    You guys rock my socks! This is a HUGE job, and you’re making so much progress. Can’t wait to see the finished results soon 🙂

  4. Claire February 2, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    They look so great! Good job!

  5. Lou February 2, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    You are my heros! We considered stripping/polishing our own floorboards for about five seconds… then we just paid someone else to do it!
    It’s so worth it but. I bet your house feels so fresh with the floors sanded. Just wait til they’re polished! It will breath a new life into your home. I just love fresh polished floorboards. They are my favourite thing about my little house.
    Can’t wait to see the after photos!

    Lou x

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      Yep, it looks and feels so much better already! I love polished floorboards too. I absolutely cannot wait until they’re finished!! x

  6. Milynn February 2, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    WOW! The floors look beautiful! What a transformation, even though the work was tedious, the results are awesome!

  7. Cookie February 2, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Sounds like fun! 😉 Wow, will be worth it in the end, even more so….because YOU did it!

  8. Rita@thissortaoldlife February 2, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    I will confess: Sanding floors is the kind of job that scares me. (Though, oh, how I would love to have floors that might be sanded!) You may it look do-able. Hard and messy, but do-able. You’re making amazing progress, and it will make such a difference in your home. We had smelly carpet that we replaced right away with cork floors, and it was like a different house in some ways. (All of them good :-)). Looking forward to your next update.

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      We were scared too but, as you said, it IS totally do-able! Slow, messy, tedious and not much fun, but do-able. With a bit of time and patience, I actually think most people could manage it 🙂

  9. Dulce February 2, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    lovely 🙂 enjoy even the hard work

  10. Sarah @ Chantille Fleur February 2, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    What a horrible task! But exciting at the same time!
    You’ve both done a really great job! It’s going to be great when you can move in and appreciate all your hard work 😀

    Happy Saturday!
    Sarah xx

  11. Nicole @ Treasure Tromp February 2, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    oh my goodness, I can’t believe that you two did that al by yourself. Get it! You two are incredible.

  12. Elle Mental February 2, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    You have done an awesome job! I know the floors will be beautiful when you get them finished 🙂

  13. Margaret February 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    You are soooo brave to tackle this, I didn’t have the courage to do mine, as I had lived in a house with a big gouge mark right near the front door in the main living area……pulled up the manky carpet, saw the damage…..had to buy new carpet, : (

    It will look amazing when it is finished I had mine done a year ago, so beautiful.

    Dont forget to allow proper drying time at the temperature on the day of application, and get lots of furniture pads for anything that might scratch the floor, try the cheap Pick and Pay type shops as those little pads are expensive from hardware shops.

    Great job, it looks awesome, you must be so chuffed !

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      Good thinking about the furniture pads! Thanks Margaret 🙂

  14. Becky February 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Looks really good! Coming along excellently! I love hardwood floors but I am not very brave, so I don’t know if I’d ever do it myself. 😉 Good on you guys!

  15. Veronica February 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    new to your blog. I’ll be following your renovating
    adventures from now on. I admire your energy.

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Thank you Veronica! x

  16. Jacqui February 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    First- I love this blog. I’m also loving watching your house reno’s as we are doing the same at the moment. Such hard work, but oh so worth it in the end. It is just the best feeling when you can sit down in your lounge room that you have sanded, painted and polished every inch of, to make your own. Nice work guys!!

    • Katie
      Katie February 3, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks so much Jacqui! I just can’t wait to be “finished” enough to move in and actually live in the house we’ve worked so hard on. It’s so exciting and we’re going to feel so proud of ourselves! xx

  17. Kelly February 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    i wont say it looks like fun, but im sure you’ll be incredibly proud of your beautiful new floors. I wish we could have had lovely floorboards when we ripped up the carpet, but alas, they were too gappy to keep. x

  18. Sarah February 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    I hear your pain with the sanding and scraping! The sanding isn’t so bad (just boring) but the paint scraping off the doorways etc is nothing short of hellish! I guess just keep your eyes on the prize there!

    About the textured paint in a previous post: a friend of mine did this and she said it worked (although it sounds bonkers to me!) Coat the celiing with a thick layer of wallpaper adhesive, leave it for a few hours then scrape it off – the textured paint should have softened and should come off with it.

    She was very pleased with her results – I’ve never tried it though so I can’t say from personal experience.

    Can’t wait to see your lovely woodwork when you finish 🙂

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  19. Joanne February 4, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    I’m so excited for you guys. I really enjoying watching each step of your process to a simpler life. Keep the house posts coming, they are my favourite. xx

  20. Tami Rebekah February 4, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    wow!! Thats an intense project!! Just found you from bloglovin!! new follower ! 🙂

  21. Gina February 4, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Hi Katie!

    Wow, you two are doing a wonderful job. There’s some nice wood in the floors. One question. Did the cat urine smell go through to the wood in the one room? Did sanding get the smell out? I’ve heard stories of hard hard the smell is to be rid of.


    • Katie
      Katie February 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      There were some ominous looking yellow stains on the wood in the cat pee room but (thankfully!) they didn’t smell. And they mostly sanded off. I too have heard horror stories about getting rid of the cat pee smell so I’m really, really glad that the smell seemed to be confined to the carpet! 🙂

      • Gina February 5, 2013 at 7:00 am #


        You might check with the hardware store people and even pet supply stores to see if there’s any product to deodorize the floor spots where the cat urine smell was located. Maybe something online?. I’m thinking there might be something you could apply before sealing the floor just to be on the safe side. It’s good to know, though, that the smell seems to be gone since you sanded the floor. Hopefully, the worst of the odor came from the carpet and the sealer will block out any minor leftover smell.

        I was wondering if you and Reuben had thought of doing the bedroom, bath and kitchen then moving in to finish the rest. Is that a possibility? That’s actually what my husband and I did when we had our house built. We sort of HAD to move in as our apartment lease was just about up. We did more painting as we went along, added an extension on the yoga studio my husband teaches in, and built a stone patio. Actually, it makes the house feel more like yours when you work on it!

        I’d love to send you two a little housewarming gift when all is done. I’m connected with Reuben on Ravelry (Crochetwoman is my Rav name.) so he could drop me your address if that’s agreeable.

        Keep up the good work and take those rest breaks!

        Syracuse, New York, USA

  22. kate February 4, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    wow, i’m impressed! these are going to look amazing when they are done. i SO wish we had hardwoods in our house, but it’s a newer house (14 yrs old) so just plywood under these carpets. hoping to do pergo at some point soon though! (sadly i think our giant dog would destroy real wood!) good luck, can’t wait to see the finished product!

  23. Mike February 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    It’s looking good!

    Cat pee is the WORST, isn’t it? OMG! We had some of that in the first house we bought. It was awful.

    The beauty of your hardwood floors is coming to life. It will be so worth it when you’re done.

    Kudos to you for having the gumption to do it yourselves.

    You’re awesome!

  24. MeganK February 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Wow, it’s going to look so good, Katie. You guys must be aching… Good on you for getting stuck into it. Can’t wait to see the “after” shots when it’s all polished up.

  25. Elisa Bartels February 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    You are brave souls tackling those floors. Hope you are painting the walls and ceiling before applying tung. Would hate to see the disappointed look on your faces if there are tiny little paint speckles all over that gorgeous floor. Live your blog. Will be following your renos with keen interest.

  26. Tammi February 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    I am seriously in love with your floors…they look amazing already. Great job guys 🙂

  27. Saralyn February 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    great job! so glad I stumbled upon your blog! new follower 🙂


  28. Shirley February 9, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Your floors are looking amazing! I’m really enjoying seeing your home take shape. All that hard work is paying dividends, well worth the effort. Good luck with the rest, I’m looking forward to seeing the progress.

  29. Claire April 2, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Hello, I just discovered your blog (via Her Library Adventures) and love it 🙂 Well done on the floor boards, that was a HUGE job! I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it yet, but the reason there is a big unvarnished patch in the middle of the room is that ‘back in the day’, varnish would have been expensive so it was only necessary to coat the floorboards which were exposed around the (surely majestic) rug that would sit permanently in the middle of the room! My Mum is renovating a big old guesthouse in Healsville, Vic, and found the same thing under carpet and lino.


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