Hardwood Floors Refinishing Guide

Hardwood Floors Refinishing Guide

If you're currently considering having hardwood floors installed in your home, most definitely you're being met by many naysayers. "Hardwood floors are too expensive!" Or "Hardwood floors are such a pain in the butt to keep up!"

It's true; refinishing hardwood floors is not a job for everyone. It can be labor intensive and can be unforgiving - small mistakes will show until the next time you sand it all down. However, hiring a professional to come in and do the job can cost almost twice as much as doing the job yourself.

So what are you to do? Are your only options to spend hundreds of dollars paying a professional any time you want to refinish your floors, or to be left with subpar results when you try to do it yourself?

Absolutely not. There are many home remodeling professionals that have given us guide upon guide on how to refinish your hardwood floors yourself. And if you follow their advice and guidance, you can be left with floors that shine….but without emptying your bank account to do so.

As with anything else, it's always smartest to listen to the best. So when looking for guidance on refinishing your hardwood floors, let's take advice from the best in DIY. These tips from the "Hardwood Floors Refinishing Guide" will get you on your way to beautiful floors:

1. Choose the Right Equipment

Whether you rent or buy, a power sander will be the biggest piece of equipment for you to consider. Your two main options are going to be drum sanders and random orbital sanders. Here are some things to consider when deciding between the two:

  • Drum sanders work faster than random orbital sanders; however, they require some experience to use and can damage your floor if used improperly. 
  • Random orbital sanders are slower, but this explaination says that they are easier to control and a little more forgiving.

So, if you are willing to put up with the learning curve in order to save the time on your hardwood refinishing later, then it is worth it to invest in a drum sander. If you don't mind spending a bit of extra time on each refinishing project so that you don't have to worry about that margin of error, then a random orbital sander may be your best bet.

2. Get Help

Moving heavy furniture in and out of the room shouldn't be done alone. Not only can this damage your hardwood flooring, leaving large scrapes and scratches that can be difficult to repair, but you also run the risk of insuring yourself. So, when needing to move large furniture, get a helper(s) and use the right equipment. Dollys, ramps, and moving straps will help move things around without damaging your furniture or your back. This applies to the sander as well - they can be very heavy and difficult to move around.

3. Take it Easy

When you are ready to refinish your flooring, you will first need to sand your flooring down. This will need to be done in three steps, gradually moving up in grit as you progress in each step. Start with a 60-grit sandpaper (don't go any coarser) to remove the old finish and scratches. Move up to an 80 grit, and then finish with a 120 grit. Work in rows and overlap each row by half - work as if you were cutting the grass. Keep making passes until you have the results you want. Use a palm sander to reach corners and other tight spaces. Take your time and take it easy. This is the most important part of the job and a perfect finish relies on this step.

4. Dust Removal

After sanding, you will want to remove as much excess dust from your floors. Vacuum the floor to remove all dust and dirt. Your home shop-vac will get the job done nicely; there is no need to rent the expensive model. An expert recommends wiping the entire floor with a tack cloth to remove dust, hair and debris that the vacuum missed. This will give you the cleanest and smoothest surface when you move on to the sealing and staining step.

5. Sealing and Staining

Once you've chosen a stain for your flooring, you will want to test your stain in an inconspicuous area to see if sealer is necessary and apply if required. Once you know you have the color you want, you can move forward and apply the stain. Work in small areas and don't let the leading edge dry so lap marks are avoided. Oil based stains dry more slowly than water based ones. Apply stain with an applicator or rag starting a couple of feet from the last area and working back toward the wet edge. Remove excess with another rag with an even tone being the goal.

6. Finish the Job

Applying polyurethane is the final step when refinishing your floors. If you're using a shellac-based sealer, you'll want to use lamb's wool. Otherwise, a high-density foam roller along with a good brush for corners and edges should do the trick. You're aiming for a thin, even layer that will dry quickly. Make smooth, uninterrupted, long strokes; don't roll back and forth a lot. Be sure you roll with a plan - don't end up painting yourself into a corner! Start along the far end of the room and work in rows that are parallel to your exit. Lightly sand with 320-grit sandpaper in between coats and wipe with tack cloth after sanding. Keep an eye out for embedded bits or hairs.

Worth the Investment

Refinishing your hardwood floors is not a quick or easy do-it-yourself project. It requires time, patience, and plenty of attention to detail. However, once the job is done you will have beautiful floors that will last for years to come.

You might also like to read:
Differences Between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring
How To Remove Mould Stains From Wood Floors
Budget Friendly Flooring Ideas

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