How To: Refinishing Hardwood Floors

While waxing and buffing can provide a decent shine, refinishing hardwood floors is usually the only way you can regain the original richness and beauty of the wood. While refinishing hardwood floors is relatively hard work, it can be done without having to call a professional in to do the job. Most of the necessary equipment is available at your local home center, and the steps are pretty straight forward.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

The first step in this process is that of actually deciding whether or not your floor is a good candidate for refinishing. This is important because sometimes, a floor with shallow scratches or a dull surface needs only to have a top coat of finish.

Other times refinishing hardwood floors simply won’t be enough, and often whole boards will have to be replaced. Boards should be replaced if they feel spongy, saggy, or if they are buckling or warping.

The next step is to deal with any gaps or cracks in the floor. Although there really isn’t any definitive procedure for filling in cracks and gaps in hardwood floors, there are some guidelines which can be followed. For instance, during the dry winter months cracks and gaps are more visible, while the humidity of the summer months cause some cracks to virtually disappear.

The equipment you require for refinishing hardwood floors includes: drum sander, floor edger, buffer, orbital/palm sander, putty knife and scraper, shop vacuum, ear protection, dust masks, safety goggles, lamb’s wool and natural bristle brush, or foam applicators, and tack cloths.

Before beginning, you need to remove absolutely everything that isn’t nailed down and then follow up by sweeping the floor thoroughly. Leave the baseboards unless you plan to replace them, and you should hang plastic over the room’s doorways and put rags or towels under any doors and over any vents.

You must then sand the hardwood floors, and finish this up by another sanding and a buffing of the entire floor. It is only after this that you apply the stain color, from which the two basic options are: water-based and oil-based.

Water-based stains have just recently become more popular, while oil-based stains are old time favorites because not only are they easy to use; but they look nice as well. They are reliable, available in an array of colors, and are basically considered the prime choice in stains.


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