Refinishing hardwood floors is a great option for flooring that looks old and worn, but not terribly damaged. However, the refinishing process can be long and tedious, especially if it is done by someone who has never done it before.
What is Hardwood Floor Refinishing?
Very basically, refinishing hardwood floors will take away the first layers of the wood to reveal the untouched wood underneath. This wood can then be sealed and look like brand new hardwood floors. Removing the top, damaged layers of wood leaves the floor looking refreshed.
DIY vs. Hiring A Professional
A common misconception of refinishing hardwood is that it only requires sanding and sealing. Because of this, many homeowners believe that they can take the project on themselves. However, there is much more to it than simply sanding and sealing! If the refinishing process is done incorrectly the results can be devastating! For example, sanding the floor too much may lead to hitting the sub flooring underneath, which cannot be reversed. Additionally, the entire process is very messy, loud, and can be very disruptive to everyday life. Most hardwood floor specialists highly recommend homeowners hire a professional to do the refinishing because, unlike other DIY home projects that can be easily fixed, messing up on hardwood floor can cost hundreds of dollars in repairs.
- Determine if Floors Really Need to be Refinished
- A simple trick is to see how water reacts on the hardwood floors. Place a few drops on the floor. If the water takes a while to soak in or beads up, you may not need to refinish the floors. If the water immediately sinks in, it is time to refinish!
- Clear Out the Room
- Move all furniture out of the room. This is includes paintings, lamps, pictures, etc…
- Cover all openings including outlets, vents, doors, with plastic sheets and masking tape to prevent dust from getting in them.
- Cover light fixtures with plastic
- If applicable, remove shoe molding from baseboards
- Take Health Precautions
- Wear eye-protection goggles
- Choose clothes that cover arms and legs
- Wear shoes that cover toes and feet
- It is advised to wear a mask over eyes and nose to avoid inhaling the dust from the sanding.
Hardwood Refinishing Process
- Start with Sanding
- Many people choose to use a drum sander to sand the hardwood floors. Drum sanders are easy to rent at local home improvement stores. The machine is great at removing the first layers of the hardwood, which is essential to getting rid of unwanted/damaged areas. However, it can also cause damage or sand the floor to the sub flooring underneath, which is a big problem! Take care not to leave the sander in one spot for a long time!
- How to sand a hardwood floor:
- Begin sanding in the middle of the room. Move the sander from the center to as close to the edge as possible. Next, move the sander back to the center with an overlap of about 1 to 2 inches. Continue this process until half of the room is completed, then start finish the other half.
- With sandpaper the same grit as the paper on the drum sander, manually sand the edges and corners of the room that the machine could not reach.
- Vacuum the dust and continue this process until 120 grit sandpaper is used
- Pro tip: The larger the number is, the smaller the grit will be on sandpaper
- Finish by vacuuming and wiping with a dry cloth
- Finish with a stain
- After the dust has been removed apply hardwood floor stain to finish the refinishing. For more information about choosing the right stain check out this article from the National Relators Association.
- Do not move furniture back to the room until the stain has dried completely.
- For more shine, use a hardwood floor buffer at the very end.
Whether you decide to refinish your hardwood floor by yourself or hire a professional flooring company, it is important to be informed on what to expect! The entire process will likely take at least a day, if not a couple days, to be completed. During this time you and your family will have to deal with loud noises, work, and inaccessibility to major house locations, such as the kitchen. In order to reduce headaches, it is important to work with people who are knowledge and experienced!
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