Refinishing Hardwood Floors in Land Park is Not a Two-Day Job

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gold DRE #00697006

Like many homes in Land Park, my home has red oak hardwood flooring, with a border around the perimeter. The thing that makes my floors a little bit different than others with hardwood in Land Park is that the individual boards are not face nailed; they are nailed through the tongue and groove. So, none of the nail heads show. While it makes for a more attractive appearance, it does make it a little bit more difficult to patch a spot where some careless doofus (namely me) over-watered a plant.

Below is a photo of the difference in appearance between the sanded surface and the original surface of these floors:

floor sanding refinish hardwood in land park

Twenty-some years ago, I refinished hardwood floors in a few homes under my buy, fix and sell program. It's hard work and time consuming, and everybody seems to have their own little techniques. But those experiences taught me enough that I knew which questions to ask my floor guy. In the photo above, he is doing the first sanding with a heavy grit sandpaper. He will do 2 more sandings, probably using 100-grit and then 150-grit. The final is to buff after two coats of polyurethane, before the final finished product is applied. Applying moisture to a wood floor (just like paint on a wall) will raise hairs, which need to be smoothed.

He has replaced the floor boards that I warped and covered an old floor vent no longer in use. I honestly cannot tell the difference between the new floor boards and the old.

But this guy does something I have not heard of before. After sanding, he applied putty to the entire floor. His reasoning is it fills in the little dents, scratches or imperfections left behind. Here is a photo showing part of the floor covered in putty:

putty to refinish hardwood floors in land park

It's been 5 days since we started with this project. But the difference in a professional finish is apparent. It makes a lot of sense to putty the floor prior to applying the first coat of poly.

We have a reprieve over the weekend, but the sanding, banging and loud noises will start again on Monday. I suspect that my cats will be very annoyed. They've adjusted to it being quiet again. With any luck, this project will be finished by next Friday.

Photos: Elizabeth Weintraub

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Weintraub and Wallace Realtors



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Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to


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Peggy Chirico
Prudential CT Realty - Manchester, CT
REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate

I just had my floors redone. I never heard of puttying and I guess my floor guy didn't either. It would never have occurred to me, but I love my new floors anyway. I did an ebony staining (which was really stinky and probably carcinogenic) but I think it looks nice! Your pictures are great.

Jan 02, 2010 02:06 AM #1
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I think I would have freaked out at the putty. It makes sense, but is really weird looking.  I think I'd be afraid.  And I can't wait to see the finished product and I know your cats will be happy to have their furniture back in their living room.

Jan 02, 2010 02:32 AM #2
Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop
RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker - Chelan, WA
A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990!

I've never seen the putty done like this before. When my big lab finally goes to doggy heaven I'm probably doing to have to go this route as well. There are some pretty heft gouges in our gorgeous Brazilian Cherry. I think it adds character, but if we're going to the trouble of refinishing, might as well make them good as new right? 

Jan 02, 2010 03:42 AM #3
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI

Wondering this, does he come back and re-sand so you can see the wood grain again?

Jan 02, 2010 03:49 AM #4
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Thanks for your input, Peggy. One of my favorite subjects is home improvement projects. I had actually considered an ebony stain, but since my kitchen flooring is lava, I decided to go with a natural to complement it.

Hi Tammy: Hey, you're not alone. I had my reservations about the putty as well. I kept saying, "We'll see . . ."

Hi Colleen: I agree that if you're going to go through the trouble of refinishing, you should do everything that you can to ensure a perfect job.

Hi Mary: Yes, the grain reappears after sanding away the coating of putty. Actually, the floor guy says we should do a 4th top coat five years from now, which would ensure its longevity. Ha, ha, who is going to tear out all the furniture in the room again? Not me. I can't imagine that very many homeowners opt for a 4th coat after five years.

land park agent

Jan 02, 2010 04:11 AM #5
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth
It is worth the hassle though Elizabeth. Hardwood floors are great.
Jan 02, 2010 05:05 AM #6
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hi Elizabeth,  We did the putty thing on our loft floor- it is a little frightening at first, but it worked very well.  It's going to be beautiful! 

Jan 02, 2010 05:22 AM #7
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Elizabeth... the end result will make all the inconvenience and hassle worth it, but getting there is not very fun!

Jan 02, 2010 06:25 AM #8
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


I work with so many buyers who think they can refinish hardwood floors after the purchase. I always recommend that they get it done professionally.


Jan 02, 2010 07:06 AM #9
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Elizabeth:  I love your home improvement projects because you show us the before, during and after.  At least the plant water stain is officially gone now.

Jan 02, 2010 10:31 AM #10
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

We just had a seller try to refinish them him self when I saw the I said the only help here is to cover with carpet. Looks like you made a good decision to hire a professional.

Jan 02, 2010 12:25 PM #11
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

The "putty" step actually makes good sense for a couple of reasons!  (1) It fills any spaces between boards, and (2) I can imagine it would reduce any possible squeaking! 

I bet you are really looking forward to having the job complete! 

Jan 02, 2010 12:34 PM #12
Carra & Shae Riley
Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd - Westminster, CO
Helping people Transition at all ages!


I love the glass block in the room!  Now for the hardwood floors!  All the pain is worth it.. nothing like beautiful hardwood floors with area rugs!  Great post on "how to."  I will feature this in the Cosmic Cow Pie.

Cosmic Cow

Jan 02, 2010 01:34 PM #13
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

My hardwood refinishing go-to guy does the same thing with putty. It is so nice to have extremely professional and skilled people doing stuff like this. Thanks for the photos to illustrate.

Jan 02, 2010 04:16 PM #14
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Going pro for your floors is the way to do it. They represent a significant investment of time and money and it's not worth the chance of ruining it. I also love the glass block.

Jan 03, 2010 01:57 AM #15
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Hi, Elizabeth:

I know you and the cats are looking forward to seeing those beautiful wood floors again. Plus some peace and quiet.

Happy New Year!


Jan 03, 2010 02:51 AM #16
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

That's very sweet of you, Carra. Thank you. Just the name of Cosmic Pie makes me smile.

Aha, Pacita and Mary, good to know somebody else has done the putty thing. This is one of the reasons I love Active Rain members so much. You guys tell me things I did not know.

As for having the "pros" do it, it's not really that difficult to refinish a wood floor yourself. We've all seen the disaster jobs completed by those who toss empty beer cans in the corner, but if you apply a bit of patience and diligence, dedicate yourself to the process, it can actually turn out very well. I was afraid for years to do my own floors, but I finally jumped in one day and did it. Then I refinished another. Both jobs turned out beautifully.

It's quiet today, thank goodness. But the next 4 days will be a return to the madness. Wouldn't be quite so bad if I hadn't had oral surgery on the 30th. Trying to sleep through that racket is pretty hard. But I figured what better time of the year to undergo oral surgery and refinish the floors? If I'm going to be miserable, hey, just pile it on. I can handle it. :)

land park agent

Jan 03, 2010 03:24 AM #17
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

I also undertook the refinishing of my own hardwood floors about 5 years ago.  Fortunately a neighbor who was well versed in the use of a heavy floor sander was on hand.  After 4 days of sanding, dusting, sanding, dusting and dusting some more I was exhausted.  Yep I saved a bundle so now I can appreciate hiring someone else to do the job the next time I get a crazy do it myself notion.

Jan 03, 2010 04:55 AM #18
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