What Happens When You’re Crazy Enough to DIY Hardwood Floors

You know how those renovation shows are always full of so much drama and sometimes it seems contrived because, like really, how much drama can surround home improvements? You’re only TEARING YOUR WHOLE HOUSE UP.

I describe the last 2 weeks like we took our house, shook it upside down, created a tornado of chaos and expected things to land perfectly in place like it had been transplanted to Oz. Turns out, doesn’t really work that way. Oh yes, there was drama. Deadlines and budgets were blown, blood and tears were shed, and I’ll forever be cleaning the dust out of nooks and crannies in this house.

There are still details to complete, like baseboards, transitions and patching A GIANT HOLE IN THE WALL from a late night buffing session, in which I *may* have lost my shit, just a little, at my husband who, moments before, was laughing and slipping around in his socks on the floor while wielding an unruly buffer that whizzed past my head, nearly leaving my children motherless.

THAT could have been my face.

But, the big part is behind us. The floors are in and finished. We went with the clear coat and, after applying one coat of Monocoat (more on this in a minute) and waiting 36 hours to walk on them (more on THIS in a minute), we wound up with this gorgeous result.

Not the gorgeous baby; we wound up with her another way, no buffers involved.

Leyna was so happy to sit in her Bumbo in a room that didn’t reek of animal and trash and wine and food. Y’all, one of the biggest lessons I took away from all of this is I’ve experience the life of ย a hoarder now. Naturally, now that we’ve made it through to the other side, I have an overwhelming urge to throw things away and light our bedroom on fire, the one room we all lived out of through most of this.

Over the weekend, in fact, we had to use the master bathroom as our kitchen for running water, there was a bottle of wine and a bag of oranges that sat next to the toothpaste. We also had to use our windows as our door. We were not to step on any of the finished floors for 36 hours, and since that encompassed every square inch outside of bedrooms, bathrooms and the laundry room, that meant holing up in our already over-crowded bedroom.

All of us.

Including the dogs.

Including the blind, diabetic, 150 lb dog.

We ALL had to use the windows as a door.

So, just imagine us trying to leave as a family for dinner, making sure to let the dogs out for a potty break, hoisting the blind and large one over the window sill, then passing the baby and the car seat through the window. Oh, all very, very comical when you’re not the one living it.

Okay, it was actually pretty comical for us, too. It was one of those moments you have to laugh at or you’ll cry and throw a prissy princess hissy fit (or maybe that’s just me).

Now, though, I’m sitting in my semi-put-back-together living room, looking around at the floors, noting how they smell nothing like dog pee, and I’m here to say it was ALL WORTH IT. (Although, this feeling doesn’t exclude me from future whining.)

While we did go a little over budget because we decided to hire a professional sander, Scott thinks when all is said and done, we’ll have kept the whole project to right about $5,000. We covered 1100 square feet for about $4.55 a sq. ft. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. To recap how we did it, we ordered unfinished, utility grade hardwood floors (.89/sq. ft.), which we installed ourselves (with the help of a very talented brother-in-law). We also had to install a subfloor, so the cost of this project could have been much less if we didn’t live in a concrete slab foundation house.

The wood definitely has a lot of “flaws,” but it’s actually what gives it so much character. We had to spend a good amount of time filling the holes with epoxy and wood filler, then covering those spots with a wood stain marker. Still, though, it looks fantastic. Our style tends to lean toward the modern, minimalist side, and I love the contrast of the natural, rustic looking floors.

The clear coat was the best decision ever! Thank you so much to all of you who chimed in on my post about that. It did make it a little darker, a touch more yellow, but I can’t imagine how overwhelming and heavy these floors would look had we gone with anything richer. Here’s a picture with the Monocoat finish applied to half the floor to show the difference.

I learned about Rubio Monocoat by googling “eco-friendly, natural floor finishes.” I knew I didn’t want to finish the floor with a traditional stain and poly because one of the biggest reasons I wanted to ditch the carpet was to eliminate nasty chemicals (or the need for them to clean) from our house. It didn’t make sense to put floors in that we’d then cover in harsh products.

It went on so easily. It truly only takes ONE coat. It’s easy to touch up if the floor gets scratched, easy to maintain, and no VOCs. Time will tell how it holds up, but we are very happy with it and have no reason to think we won’t be down the road. I especially love that there are no harsh smells. Yes, it does smell like an oil, but it’s a natural smell, and not one that’s made any of us sick or is overwhelming at all.

So, a big step in loving the home we’re with is done. Now? Onto the kitchen! Or maybe the office… or maybe my mom nook? Hmmm… so many projects, only one handy husband.

P.S. I know the pictures here don’t show that much. I had big plans to take more, but I can’t seem to find my camera charger. I can’t seem to find a lot of things right now, but the camera charger is a biggie. I should spend less time blogging and more time putting this place back together.

Kendall is 3, Leyna is 4.5 months.

**Disclosure- Monocoat, upon learning I would blog about our experience with their product, gave us a discount. We were planning to use the stuff, anyway, and it didn’t affect my opinion about it at all.

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  1. Looks great! I also love the more natural look – isn’t that the beauty of wood, the natural variations?

    next time, I’d spend $5k +$250 for a couple of nights at a hotel. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I really wish we could have! I petitioned hard for it, but we would have had to find something to do with the dogs anyway, so it was almost more trouble than it was worth. Thanks!

      • Oh, right, the dogs.

        After we come back from our annual family beach trip, we are finally getting another dog. We’ve been dogless since just before Ella was born and I can hardly wait.

  2. I know I have already posted this, but I LOVE your new floors and all the DIY sweat equity that went into them. Congrats! (BTW, using the window is freaking hilarious! – we have had to do it here during some different construction…..it’s really awesome when someone knocks on your door and you come out the window to greet them!)

  3. We close on our house on Monday and we are in the process of trying to figure out wood floors before we move in (aka ASAP). Have some questions about your experience with LL and your wood selection. How are you feeling after you have lived on your floor for a few days with the monocoat? Do you know if it helps with the photo sensitivity of the wood (ie the goldening of the wood over years)? Would love if you would be willing to drop me and email.

  4. You are hilarious! I always make the mistake of reading your blog on my iPhone while I’m trying to get my son to sleep (or back to sleep…as the case may be!) and my uncontrollable giggles always threaten to wake him! Your stories really help me keep the right prospective on this season of life and I really appreciate it!

  5. I just came across this post today right after I received our MonoCoat samples in the mail. My husband and I are going to use a dark brown waterbase pre-treater and the chocolate monocoat. I’m very happy to see your floors turned out great and that you are happy with them, as I was a little nervous about the finished product. This makes me even more excited to rip all of the gross carpet out and get the reclaimed floors put in!

  6. We are building a home and I have been researching wood finishes for months. I had ordered the Rubio Monocoat samples and love the results; however, now I would just like to hear from you how you like your finishes after living with them for a while. Are you still loving them?

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  9. Hi Jill! I am the crazy fan who had to say hello at the State Fair while you were taking pictures of some fair food ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m fairly quiet on the social networking stuff but I do love reading and relating to your posts. We are building a home and I am looking at the best way to do hardwoods. I can’t believe I just now remembered your floors. I am very curious how your Monocoat has held up since you installed your floors. Thanks so much!

  10. I’m wondering if you’ve had any stains and how you dealt with them. Two weeks after our floors were done (they looked great) my husband left a pair of dirty, sweaty socks on the floor. Next morning – big dark stain. We bought the de-greaser, followed the instructions, and were left with a smaller, lighter stain and an area where the finish had been worn off by our rubbing to remove the stain. Looks like CR*P. I am not a happy camper. Would appreciate your sharing your experiences. Though at least now my husband has learned to put dirty clothes in the hamper and not on the floor! Silver lining!

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