How to Refinish Hardwood Flooring

Tuesday September 16, 2008
Article Word Count:733 Comments (2) Permalink

There is nothing like walking into a home that has well-cared-for hardwood flooring. Routine cleaning can help prolong the life of your hardwood floors, however, refinishing is your best bet at maintaining your floor's natural beauty.

The number of times you can finish your hardwood floor depends on the surface thickness of the hardwood above the tongue and groove.* Generally, solid hardwood flooring is thicker - and can be refinished more times than engineered hardwood flooring, which has a thinner top layer, or veneer.

*Tongue and groove (T&G) hardwood planks have a tongue-shaped ridge cut out on one side, and a groove cut in the other. This ensures a more snug fit between planks.

Obviously, you have the choice between hiring a professional to do the job or making it a do-it-yourself project. If you're considering the DIY route, it's important that you follow your flooring manufacturer instructions. Finishing hardwood floors can involve sanding, scraping, buffing, sealing and staining - tasks that adds up to one pretty challenging project! In most instances, it's recommended that a professional be hired. In addition to bringing experience to the job, a professional will generally use high-quality products like non-toxic, commercial-grade, oil-based polyurethane or non-toxic water-based polyurethane.*

*Polyurethane is a polymer comprised of organic elements and commonly used to make plastics. Also comes in foam forms that are used for upholstery and thermal insulation.

To begin the process, have a flooring professional come out to your home or office and check the condition of your flooring. Before they get started, all rugs, mats, draperies and furnishings should be removed. Any wall repairs needing to be done should be completed prior to applying the floor finish. You don't want paint dripping onto your new floors!

If installing and finishing your hardwood floors yourself, check out our Hardwood Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Instructions.

Some tools that may be needed:

• Sander or sanding machine
• Sanding paper (fine, medium or coarse grit)
• Buffer machine
• Broom
• Vacuum
• Paint scraper
• Nail puller
• Nails
• Hammer
• Putty knife
• Handsaw

Hardwood flooring finishing tips:

• Before the floor is sanded, it should be properly swept. Once the surface is clean, inspect the floors and make sure there are no loose boards and that any nails are flush in the wood. Any raised nail heads could damage the sander and/or spark during the sanding process, which could lead to injury or fire. If applicable, tighten loose boards with nails or nail cleats.

• When using a drum sander, it's important you follow the instruction manual closely to ensure you use the machine correctly. Sanders can be difficult to handle for the more novice installer.

• Sanders come with fine, medium or coarse grit. Typically, a combination of a fine and coarse grit are used during the refinishing process; coarse grit to remove the old layer of finish, and a finer grit to achieve a smoother surface. Before beginning your refinishing project, ask the manufacturer or floor professional for tips on the type of grit you should use.

• If you don't want to refinish your hardwood floors, a buffer machine may be able to put some shine back into your flooring.

• Solid hardwood flooring that's 3/4" thick or thicker can generally be refinished many times over the years. Hardwood floors that are 3/8" thick or thinner may only be able handle a light surface sanding with a medium or fine grit. Refer to your manufacturer's instructions or call a flooring professional to get their advice. You can use our Find It Locally search engine to find a floor professional in your area today!

• Before the finishing process begins, fill in any cracks or gaps in the hardwood floor planks with flooring filler. Once dry, sand by hand with fine grit.

• Fast-drying sealers should only be handled by a professional or someone who has experience with them.

• Applying a penetrating seal prior to the finish can help increase the level of wear and tear your hardwood floors can handle without suffering damage. A penetrating seal can be applied by hand.

To get a quote on how much it will cost to finish or replace your floors, consult's directory of flooring professionals. Many installers offer quotes over the phone or via email, so you can shop around for the best option.


About the author:
Comments (2)

Talkback – Leave a commentThere are 2 comments

Great article. I've refinished my hardwood floors before and it was quite a task finding help when I needed it. I wish I had known about this site back then!
November 3 2008
Well written article
Well written. Thanks for the info. I was considering taking on this project myself, but now that I see what is involved, I think I'll take your advice and hire a pro.
September 23 2008
Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Please click the black box below to show the submit button: