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How to Refinish a Hardwood Floor

April 18, 2013 by | Jennifer | There have been 0 comments

If your hardwood floors seem to have more scratches than shine, you’ve probably been thinking about refinishing them. What many homeowners don’t realize is that refinishing hardwood floors isn’t just about looking pretty--it’s about maintaining the life your floors. A proper stain and finish does more than add color and shine underfoot; it also protects the wood from damage. So take a deep breath, read through our simple tips, and prepare to add new life to your floors.

1.    Empty the room

Refinishing hardwood floors isn’t a task you can complete while the room is still in constant use. You’ll need access to every corner of the space, so move out every last piece of furniture and prepare for the area to remain unoccupied for 5-7 days depending on the size of the space.

2.    Rent a random orbital sander

A random orbital sander is your best bet if you’re a homeowner planning a DIY refinishing project. It’s more heavy duty than a typical home sander, but it doesn’t require a lot of experience to use like a drum sander. A drum sander will remove a layer of old finish quickly, but if used incorrectly it can leave gouges and irreparable marks on your hardwood floors. A random orbital sander offers a happy medium. Begin with a coarse grit to remove old finish/stains, then go over with finer and finer levels until the desired level of smoothness is reached (Bob Vila of TV fame recommends a 60-80-120 progression).

Think you’re done? Not so fast. A large machine like an orbital sander won’t be able to reach into corners, nooks and crannies. Use a handheld palm sander to get those hard-to-reach spots. Carefully remove all dust when you’re done.

3.    Apply a stain

Pick the appropriate stain for your wood. Stain is for adding color and accentuating the wood grain, so pick whatever shade most appeals to you. Some wood species, like Douglas fir, have a lovely natural hue. With its rose and gold variations in tone, Douglas fir flooring is often stained in a light or transparent color to let its natural beauty shine through. In fact, you can even skip the stain if you want a completely natural look. However, if you’re going for a specific home design style, your stain can vary all the way from transparent to deep mahogany—the choice is yours.  Let the stain dry completely (this could take up to 24 hours) before moving on to step four.

4.    Finish it with a sealant

The finish is the seal, the final coat on your floor. This will protect it from future spills, scratches and dings, so make sure that you apply your finish evenly and carefully to the entire surface. A good finish keeps your wood flooring attractive and extends its life for years to come.

Wood finishes come in two main types: penetrating or surface. Penetrating finishes will be absorbed into the grain of the wood and leave you with a more natural look.

A surface finish forms a film over the top of the wood that hardens to protect it from most everything. Lacquers, shellacs, and the most common modern variety--polyurethane--are all surface finishes. Most manufacturers recommend applying more than one coat of a surface finish. To get that extremely durable and shiny finish, apply one coat and let it harden completely. Sand lightly after the finish cures, and then apply another coat of finish. You’ll repeat this process up to three times depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You’ve come this far--don’t rush it now. After your final coat of finish is in place, let the floors rest for a day or two before walking on them or moving furniture back in. This allows the stain and finish to completely set.

Depending on how hard your family is on floors, the refinishing job on your wood floors should last 10 years or more. Once your refinishing job is complete, you can hang up your tool belt, breathe a sigh of relief and sit down to relax--while admiring the shine on your gorgeous, looks-like-new, refinished floors.

This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas-fir, Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, maintaining wood floors, wood flooring, hardwood flooring, refinishing floors, floor refinish, hardwood flooring care, wood flooring care

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