One of the best things about hardwood floors is they are designed to last a lifetime. Even when they are in serious disrepair, they can be made to look new again with a little refinishing work. If you’ve never done this kind of task before, here are some things you need to know.
First, you’ll need to sand off the old stain and finish. Get a walk-behind floor sander, because it will be easier on your back and take less time than a hand sander. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for one because you can usually rent them at any equipment rental store.
You’ll also need a handheld sander, often called a power edge sander. This tool will reach in corners and along walls. Choose a sander that comes with a bag to hold the dust so that you have less cleanup and better air quality while you work. Of course, it is still important to wear safety goggles and a mask while you work.
There are three basic grades of sandpaper. Coarse is what you use to take off the initial finish and to remove any imperfections in the wood. Medium is ideal for a second application, if necessary. Fine sandpaper is used for finishing. It smooths the wood so there are no splinters or rough areas.
If you have deep dents or damage to the wood, you can fill it with wood putty and allow it to dry. Then, use the fine sandpaper to sand it down smooth to match the rest of the floor.
Once you’ve finished sanding, you’ll need to clean the hardwood floor to remove all dust. The next step is applying the stain and finish. You can select the color stain that fits the rest of the room. You may prefer to leave the floor natural and just apply a clear finish. You have the option of polyurethane or varnish as well as a penetrating sealer. Each one comes with some benefits as well as disadvantages.
Polyurethane – this comes in either water- or oil-based and can darken the wood. It protects the wood in high-traffic areas as well as those where moisture may be an issue. The downside is it is more difficult to repair when scratched.
Varnish – this option can be glossy or matte, and it’s extremely durable. It is easy to repair, but it darkens with age.
Penetrating sealer – this product gives you a more natural finish and solid protection, but it’s less durable. It is easy to repair though.
Once you apply a coat, let it dry and apply at least one more coat. You’ll need to wait for at least 24 hours before you start moving furniture in or allowing heavy traffic.
Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a DIY project with the right equipment. Just make sure you allow enough time for the entire process. The final result will be worth the extra work involved.
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