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Refinishing wood floors in the hallway

You know how sometimes you wait and wait and wait for something? You wait so long you are pretty sure it’s never going to happen. And then one day, it finally happens and you realized you were glad you waited, and the waiting has made you appreciate it even more? That’s how refinishing wood floors in our hallway felt.

We aren’t totally done, but I wanted to share the progress with you so far.When we moved in about 16 1/2 years ago, we learned from the previous owner that when they bought the house the lady before them had cats.Lots and lots of cats.And, I guess she wasn’t too picky about if they used the litter box everytime. So… they said the floors were fairly pet stained, and they primed over them and then covered them with laminate and carpet. After we moved in we didn’t smell cat pee, so we figured it couldn’t be that bad. It made me crazy to think that underneath us might be all of this awesome hardwood floor waiting to be brought back to life.

Well, when we gutted our kitchen in 2010,I was hoping we could save some money by refinishing the original wood.We pulled up the laminate that covered the entire main floor.We found out that not only was there 3 layers of old vinyl in the kitchen and no wood in there, but, the main floor had been primed and yes, it smelled faintly like cat pee. I was sad.And no money saved there. At the time,the only way to fix it, and match the area in the kitchen where there was no wood flooring was to put down all new wood, which is what we did.  We did get lucky and the stair treads were fine, so were were able to refinish those.

Old ugly hallway carpet

Fast forward to 2016. We had now been in our house 16 years. The owners before us put in a basic beige carpet which was 4 years old when we bought it. We were now walking every day on 20 year old carpet. For those of you that think bloggers have everything in their house done, this is a testament that not all parts of our home are  pretty. It would make me crazy every time I vacuumed that gross old carpet and thought about how dirty it was. I kept saying we needed to pull up the carpet and refinish it, but there was never a good time. It’s the only access to our bedrooms so it also meant  we needed to camp out somewhere for a few days and there was never a good time for that either.

Old hallway carpet before

So I lived with it.

And hated it.

I kept contemplating pulling up the carpet and seeing how bad it was, or even pulling it up and painting it with porch paint, but I knew if we ever wanted to sell the best resale was in matching wood floors. I even bought dark gray porch paint which sat in a can in my garage because I never could quite manage to pull the trigger.

The one day, on an out of town trip, I get this text : Look at this!

Bare sanded wood floors

Sanded bare wood floors

That man knows the way to my heart. Talk about brownie points.

While I was gone, he pulled up the carpet and sanded the old primer off the floors. They were in amazing shape! I almost cried I was so happy. This was really happening! And to have that nasty carpet out! It felt so much better!

That was back in May.

Wood floor before stain

When I got back,we had to put the carpet back over the wood for a while, there was  a hospital visit, and busyness and life. And, there was the issue that the floor we put in 6 years ago was a custom stain I mixed.

Matching stairs with custom stain

It took me a bit of time, and a few extra cans of stain to come up with a close match the second time around (by the way I have lots of barely-used stain if you need some).  I ended up with a combination of Antique brown,Mahogany and a bit of Chestnut that was pretty, darn close. Finally in October, we were able to plan the time to camp out for a few days downstairs.

Applying custom stain to the floor refinishing wood floors

It was so exciting to see the stain finally go down! 2 coats later and a polycoat and a few days of curing and it was done!

Custom refinished wood floors

We are one step ahead of this picture, I’ll share later. The holidays happened and we got busy again.We finally have the trim down, and need to repaint everything, and the transitions need to go in where the bedroom carpets meet the wood. It feels so good to have it done! It’s so easy to clean! It wasn’t really even a hard job, just time intensive, and requires some planning if it’s a main living area. For about 10 seconds we thought about taking a chance doing the bedrooms too, but I think we are going to re-carpet those one room at a time instead for now.We aren’t that crazy.

See, dreams do come true!


  1. Oh, hooray! We had even older carpet than that (stained… you can’t imagine how many times I sat on the living room or hallway floor with oxyclean solution and a teaspoon working on stains) and one day I just went nuts and pulled up the hallway carpet, too. The carpet in the living room (tiny, tiny room) is still there but this will be the year. I didn’t refinish the hallway, I just used some hardwood refreshing kit I got at Lowes and as long as it’s clean I’m ok with it. At some point we will refinish, probably, but that will involve renting a pod to hold our stuff and that’s not happening anytime soon. I’m so happy for you! Looks great!

  2. Beautiful! Cannot understand why someone would cover up that gorgeous floor with carpet.
    Happy 2017

  3. HOW are you dealing with the dust/sanding? I have a 3 bedroom 1 bath house that I need to refinish the floors in and I don’t even know what to do since we have one bathroom and it’s only accessible using a hallway. I have a feeling I’m going to be putting it off until the last moment when we decide to sell.

    1. We got everything we needed from the rooms and for each step taped off all of the doors, the bottom of the hallway to the main area,but,We luckily have another bathroom we could use. When we did our main floor 6 years ago, we spent a few days at my mom’s.

  4. I never got to finish ripping up our ugly 20-plus year old carpet from our Big House (we were there 13 years, our last house). It was horrible, dog stained. Carpet cleaner no longer cleaned it that’s how bad it was. The new owners did, though. They liked the linoleum that looked like wood downstairs so they put that in all over upstairs.

    Glad your hallway turned out well! Great job to your hubby for ripping that carpet up! That’s how we put in travertine in our living room at the Big House. My husband was on a trip for work and I just went and got the curved carpet knife and pulled up our living room carpet. Made all the difference!

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