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Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

By Michael Hilton

One of the benefits of a solid wood floor is that it can be sanded and refinished once it becomes scratched and aged, which means that with a little hard work, you can make your home's old floors look like new again. When refinishing your hardwood floors, it is important to use the right tools so that you remove the old finish without damaging the underlying wood.

The Right Sander for Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

  • If your floors appear to be in descent shape, and only the surface needs refinishing, then you should use a vibrating sander with medium grit sand paper (60 or 80 grit). It is best to rent a walk-behind vibrating sander which uses large pieces of sandpaper and has an attached dust collector that can help keep your house cleaner during the project.
  • If your old floors are in poor shape with uneven surfaces and noticeable dips and bumps, then you should use a drum sander before using a vibrating sander. Start with a course sandpaper, such as 36 or 40-grit, and work carefully, because these tools are powerful and can quickly burn or gouge the wood if not handled properly.
  • When you are sanding in tight corners or along the edges of the room you should use a hand-held edge sander. It is best to remove the baseboard trim from the perimeter of the room before sanding along the wall.

Move the sander back and forth (in the same direction that the floor boards are laid) and sand the entire floor until you achieve a consistent, smooth surface. Sand the wood's surface several times, each time reducing the coarseness of the sandpaper grit.

Stain Wood Floors before Finishing with Polyurethane

Once the floor has been sanded, swept, and vacuumed, you can begin the finishing process. Using a foam applicator pad, apply a coat of stain to the wood, wiping off any excess stain with a lint-free cotton rag. If you would rather have a clear finish, you can skip the stain and just apply several coats of polyurethane.

  • Water-based polyurethane dries quickly and produces a crisp, clear finish. You should apply at least 4 coats of water-based polyurethane to fully protect the wood.
  • Oil-based polyurethane produces an amber colored finish, and each coat requires at least one full day to cure. Three coats of an oil-based polyurethane are usually sufficient for a quality and durable finish. Use a 220-grit sandpaper to sand the floor between coats.

Refinishing hardwood floors is a home improvement project that can usually be accomplished by any homeowner that has some project experience working with sanders and other finishing equipment. You should follow all of the instructions that come with the sanders, and read and follow the directions that are supplied with the type of polyurethane that you choose. Once properly refinished, your new floors should remain beautiful for years to come.


 

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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