Wood Flooring Refinishing

How to Refinish a Wood Floor to Have it Looking like New Again

By Mark J. Donovan

If your hardwood floor is looking shabby and faded then it is in need of refinishing. Wood floor refinishing is a messy, noisy and tedious job however the results can be amazing. Wood floor refinishing also requires the right tools and equipment. The three basic steps for refinishing hardwood floors involve sanding, staining and polyurethaning.

Preparing the Room or Home for Wood Floor Refinishing

First remove all furniture and objects from the room including curtains and any throw rugs.

Then inspect the wood floor for any popped nails or staples. Pound the nails or screws down or replace them. Leaving nail heads exposed will result in torn sandpaper and possible damage to the floor sander.

Wood Floor Refinishing – Sanding Stage

Next use a floor sander to remove the old finish from the wood floors. You can rent a floor sander from most home improvement centers. Ask for instructions on how to use it before leaving the rental store and make sure to purchase sufficient sandpaper for the project, including a variety of grits (e.g. from 36 to 100 grit). Also, make sure when using a floor sander to first use a coarse grit sandpaper followed later with a fine grit sandpaper. Finally, always make sure to keep the floor sander moving when it is turned on to prevent grooves from forming in the wood floor.

When using the floor sander move it back and forth in wide sweeps in the direction of the wood grain. Do not sand across the grain of the wood.

After sanding the entire wood floor with the coarse grit sandpaper shift to a fine grit sandpaper for your final pass. The fine grit sandpaper will help to remove any minor scratches that may have occurred when using the coarse grit sandpaper.

Every so often while sanding the wood floor, stop and vacuum up the dust.

This will help to keep the dust down in your home as well as enable you to see your work better.

Use an edge sander or palm sander around the edge of the wood floor and in tight corners if your floor sander is unable to get to these areas.

Wood Floor Refinishing – Staining Stage

After sanding the wood floor it’s now time to apply stain, if you plan on staining the wood. In many cases, homeowners prefer to see the natural grain of the wood and simply apply a polyurethane sealer over the bare wood.

Before applying the stain to the hardwood floors you want to make sure the wood floor is spotless of dust and debris. Use a broom and sweep the floor, and then follow up with a vacuum to remove any dust or debris.

Before applying the stain make sure to open windows to allow stain fumes to quickly exit the home.

Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet

Next, before going wild and applying the stain to the main area of the wood floor, do a small test case. Find a small corner and use a rag to apply a little stain to the corner. Allow the stain to dry a few minutes and then confirm that the stain is the desired color you’re looking for.

Assuming you have the desired color, apply a coat of stain to the entire floor. For lighter coats apply with a rag. For darker heavier coats apply with a brush. Always apply the stain with long strokes that flow with the grain of the wood.

Allow the first coat of stain to fully dry and apply a second coat if desired or touch up any light areas.

Wood Floor Refinishing – Finishing with a Polyurethane Sealer

Once the final coat of stain has fully dried you can move on to the final step of applying a polyurethane sealer to the wood floor. Stir the can of polyurethane, versus shaking it, to prevent bubbles forming in the polyurethane.

Use a roller or a brush to apply the polyurethane to the freshly stained hardwood floor. Make sure to apply the polyurethane with long and even strokes, again going with the grain of the wood.

Once the first coat of polyurethane has been applied, allow it to fully dry before applying a second coat. Again, if a third coat is desired, let the second coat fully dry prior to applying the third coat.

After the final coat of polyurethane has been applied, allow the wood floor to dry for a few days prior to walking on it and returning rugs and furniture to the room.

For help on finding a wood flooring installation contractor, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet. It will help ensure that you find and hire the right flooring installation contractor for your wood flooring project. In addition, it will help to ensure that your wood floor installation is completed on time and on budget.

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