Eighteen Hours of Floor Sanding: A Video Diary

So, how was your weekend? Did you injure your left butt muscle lifting a two hundred pound sander into your vehicle after eighteen hours of sanding? No? Weird. Must just be me.

My plan going in to this weekend was to sand down the living room (pink parlor) floor on Saturday, and the worlds biggest hallway on Sunday, and then be done. Yes. Just like that.

Started out good enough on Saturday…


But, like the first room I sanded the floors down in, the boards in the living room were cupped from a winter without heat. This meant it was going to be another 14-passes-with-the-sander kind of project. This also meant I was unamused.


I spend 7 hours sanding on Saturday, made decent progress on the living room, and woke up Sunday still optimistically believing I may be able to get both rooms done by the end of the day. That optimism lasted about 35 seconds.

As I work on projects around the house it’s second-nature for me to think about how I’ll write the story when it’s all said and done– what parts of the project are most important to point out, what worked well, where I struggled. My hope is that I’m always telling an authentic story, and I realized early on (about the time I got out of bed and caught a glimpse of my exhausted, puffy face in the mirror) that Sunday wasn’t going to be one of those days where I would just breeze through my project du jour without having to put up a fight.

Sometimes it looks too easy when you see it in a few nicely instagrammed snapshots. Sometimes, when you sit down to write about it after the fact, you can’t capture the exhaustion, the excitement, the frustration, the relief. I know I say it a lot, but DIY isn’t easy, no matter what they show you on HGTV. So, in the spirit of telling the real story, I made a little video diary of sorts to share the highs and lows of the day. And also to procrastinate more sanding, of course.

Not pretty, but it’s real.

But, hey, you know what is pretty?


I may have only gotten one room done, but progress is progress, and I can’t argue with the fact that it’s looking good. I also can’t argue with the fact that I need to get more sleep so I look less like a zombie.

My increasing resemblance to the undead notwithstanding, I still need to buckle down and put a little more time into this room this week to prep it for both floor stain and wall paint. That list includes:

  • Patching the holes in the ceiling (because drywall dust and floor stain don’t mix)
  • Patching some holes in the actual flooring
  • Hitting the entire floor with 100 grit on the orbital, and working on some tight corners with the palm sander
  • Lots of shopvacing and tack cloths
  • Removing the chandelier

If I can get enough done this week I may rent the drum sander again next weekend and try to get the entryway sanded before the painters come a week for today. Or I may way a few weeks until that butt muscle recovers…


18 Responses

  1. I hate that the butt-muscle is the hardest one to massage well, or avoid using in any way while it heals. Your left, my right. Together, we are a complete ass! LOL

    Of course, my injury is kid-related. As in, my youngest-shoved-my-ass-into-the-pointy-end-of-the-windowsill-with-a-flying-leap-into-the-recliner.

    At least I managed not to hurt myself making the fall-themed-kid-art mobile, or starting the headboard project…

    1. Lol, I’ll be your right cheek, if you’ll be my left! But the neck thing was significantly worse, so I’ll take and injured ass and be glad for it!

  2. Loved the video – Very impressive that you were able to keep going! stepping back enough to enjoy it(and pace yourself) is crucial to making sure you don’t go totally nuts during a house project like this :).

    Cheers and congrats on another thing crossed of the list!

    1. And crucial to make sure you don’t screw it up because you’re tired and frustrated (been there done that!)

  3. You are right. Somedays things just DO NOT COME TOGETHER. Saturday was one of those days at my boyfriend’s house. It seemed like everything he touched fell apart. The simplest home repairs took twice as long.

    But Sunday everything was smooth. Even when the water supply to the fridge broke off (under the house!) we were able to quickly shut off the water and braze a new fitting on with no hassles.

    Some days are just like that. That’s why you got to keep moving! Because eventually it all falls in place.

    1. That’s exactly right! It’s important to know that some days (weeks, even) you just have to plow through, but when you get one of those magic days where everything flows, it’s awesome!

  4. I’m proud of you, and feel a little guilty that I’m not pushing harder myself… maybe not as crazy as you did this weekend, but if you can ride that demon pony all weekend, I could probably muster up the strength to tape these stupid drywall joints.

    Enjoy some rest, please.

    1. Ha. I probably was sanding these floors to procrastinate patching the drywall holes in the ceiling, so I hear you. We should make a drywall joint pact… done by the end of next weekend?

      1. I’ll be out of town for the next two weekends, (part of the reason I’ve been backburnering the kitchen) but I’ve decided to put on my *ahem* big girl panties today and at least get the first pass of compound up. The second pass (after sanding) goes faster, right? Is there a third pass?

  5. long time reader, first time commenter. i had to comment after seeing the last few moments of your video. the sprawled out on the floor part. been there, done that with projects that equal one one hundredths of a percentage the size of your own. just watching it makes me want to procrastinate and go clean the underside of my car or dust the attic. bravo! i despise sanding and i’m glad i’m not the only one.

    1. It amazes me that some people choose to do this for a living, and I love that I’m not the only one who finishes a tough project with a full-body sprawl on the floor. I was like, screw this, I’m done moving for the next hour!

  6. You are a little bit of a thing to be handling that sander. It absolutely amazes me what you attempt and accomplish. My son just bought a condo and the floors in it have a terrible, horrendous finish on them. It looks as though they poly’d before they swept and dusted. It’s a shame really. Anyway, you know, if you want a job done right do it yourself. I hope though that you will listen to your body and not push yourself quite so hard! I’m glad you made the video.

  7. Is it just me who is not seeing a video, just white space? I use Firefox, but tried chrome as well…

  8. I had a dream last night I pulled up the carpet in my kids’ room and found wooden flooring underneath that needs refinishing. I blame you. 🙂 Thankfully, were I to pull up the carpeting in my kids’ room, I would only find the cement foundation – which isn’t nearly as pretty but also doesn’t scream 18 hours of sanding either. Has the local rip n’ rob gotten to know you by name yet due to your numerous beer runs?

  9. I feel your pain. The next floor I do, I will become a millionaire, because that is how much I would charge to do it again. I think it took me a whole week none stop to sand 3 bedrooms, living room , and hallway. If only I could have seen your video first I would have reconsidered and jumped off a bridge.

  10. Floor sanding can be a “PITA”. 😉 But you must have done this before! I know you´re a DIY professional, but this looks really, really good.

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