Has your hardwood floor seen better days?
Rather than replace it, refinish it to make it look like new. Refinishing solid ¾-inch hardwood is a good
DIY project; however, refinishing engineered wood should be left to pros. The difference
between the two is solid has end grain and isn’t layered. To determine if your floor needs to be refinished,
place a few drops of water on it. If it beads or soaks in slowly over a few minutes, you
can probably just clean and polish. If the water soaks in immediately, you’ll need
to refinish. Also, if your floor is damaged, stained, or
there’s wax over the finish, you’ll need to sand to bare wood. Start by clearing the room, that includes
curtains and pictures, and take off or protect register covers.
Also remove doors and shoe moulding. Use painter’s tape to label the moulding
and the corresponding wall. Next, do a close inspection of the floor and
drive in nail heads. If you’re ripping up carpet, remove the carpet staples underneath.
These fasteners will tear the paper on the floor sanders. Sanding gets really dusty, so cover the air
vents, lights, windows, and doorways with plastic. With the room prepped you’re ready to sand. Use a random orbital sander for flat floors.
It’s easier to handle and the random sanding pattern won’t leave directional scratches
on the floor. Load the machine with a coarse grit sandpaper,
start it up, and immediately begin moving—letting it run in one spot will damage the floor.
It’s easiest to work along the grain to see where you’ve sanded. When you get to
the end move over slightly overlapping the first pass by a few inches. Continue sanding, getting close to the edges. After you’ve sanded the center of the room,
do the edges using a power hand sander with the same grit paper. In the corners, use a detail sander. After sanding, vacuum thoroughly with a brush
attachment. Before you sand with the next grit, fill in
deep gouges and holes with matching wood filler. Also, draw light pencil marks a few feet out
along the edges. This will help you see where you’ve sanded, as the sander removes the
pencil marks. For the second pass with the sander, use a
medium grit sandpaper. Also use a medium grit paper with the hand
sander along the edges, and the detail sander for the corners. Clean up the dust with a vacuum and brush
attachment. Do a third pass with fine grit sandpaper.
This will be the final sanding pass. Afterwards, vacuum thoroughly with a brush
attachment. Also use a damp mop on the floor to pick up any remaining particles. If the floor feels rough after sanding, buff
it with a 120 grit screen. Buffing with a screen will smooth out fine scratches. Work
along the grain getting as close as possible to the walls. Use a sanding screen for the edges and corners
too. Finish up with a thorough cleaning—window
sills, walls, everything. It’s a good idea to go over the floor with a cloth dampened
with mineral spirits. Staining is only needed if you want to change
the floor color. Apply a pre-stain conditioner and stain according
to the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re not staining, apply a sanding
sealer before the polyurethane finish. Let it dry, then lightly sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
Vacuum the entire room again and clean the floor with a tack cloth. It’s important
to have a dust free floor. Complete the project by applying a polyurethane
finish with a natural bristle brush and applicator. Before using the applicator remove loose fibers
with tape. Stir the poly thoroughly–no shaking—and
apply it along the edges using smooth strokes. You don’t want any bubbles. For the center
of the floor, use the applicator. Always maintain a wet edge and avoid creating bubbles. Let the poly dry according to the directions
and apply a second coat. Some products don’t require sanding between coats. After the second coat has dried for a few
days, you can reattach shoe moulding and bring your furniture back into the room. Avoid sliding
it across the floor. Felt pads can help prevent scratches too. And your worn out hardwood is reborn with
a fresh finish. Want more great ideas and how-to’s? Go to
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