There are a number of benefits to living with hardwood floors. First and foremost, hardwood floors keep the allergens down considerably. If you have pets, or a full household, calming the dust bunnies and improving air quality is important. Hardwood is also easy to clean and is durable. Not to mention, since the color doesn’t fade, it’s a timeless addition to your home that will benefit any decor. Because it’s long-lasting and cost-effective, more and more homeowners are looking to refinish their hardwood floor each day.
You’ve finally decided to pull up that old carpeting to take a look at what’s lying underneath. Or perhaps you’ve decided to purchase a home that could use a little extra elbow grease. Either way, your hardwood floors look like this image:
What you’d really like is for floors looking more like this:
Though this process may seem daunting, rest assured, the end result will certainly be worth the effort. The most important thing to remember, especially if you’re a first timer, is to give yourself plenty of time and patience with this project.
Before doing anything else, you’ll want to prep your work area.
- Properly preparing the work space will ensure a successfully completed project. You’ll want to clear the area on which you’re working by removing furniture, carpet, or any rugs.
- Make sure to hammer down any nails that may stick up. (Any easy way to check this is by sliding a putty knife along the floor.)
- Checking for squeaks and securing loose floorboards can be handled with finishing nails.
- Collect all dust with either a vacuum or a mop. In order to keep dust in the room you’re working in, we advise covering ducts and closing doors. The final step in preparing your floors for a facelift is to remove the moulding. (Professional hint: number the pieces for easy reinstallation.)
Once the prep is completed, you’re well on your way to beautiful new floors. Sanding is the most time consuming part of this process. Here are the steps for sanding:
- Wear a mask (to keep the dust out of your lungs), goggles (to keep depry out of your eyes), and ear protection (drum sanders can be loud).
- Use your drum or belt sander with the grain of the wood along the length of the boards. Working the sander in 3-4 foot lengths will give you the best results. In order to remove scratches, make sure to to use overlapping strokes by at least ⅓ of the belt width. (Think about how you would mow your lawn.)
- Start with a coarse grip sandpaper (36-40 grit), progress to a 60-grit paper (medium), and finish off with a fine grit paper of 100-grit). For optimal results, make sure not to skip the progression from coarse to fine grit paper. Also, remember to replace the abrasive belt after 250 feet of sanding.
- Between using different grit paper, vacuum up the dust and debris
- Remember to sand the edges and corners with a floor edger
Next, you’ll want to screen sand your floors. This will level minor unevenness left by the drum sander and edger. It will also buff away any scratches left by the sander. Once again, remove the dust with a vacuum. Staining your floors is your next step. Work with a manageable size – such as four feet. Applying the stain in with the grain of the wood with a foam applicator will make your DIY floor transformation look professionally done. We recommend removing access stain within a few minutes of application. (You could choose not to stain. In this case, make sure to apply a sanding stain before the polyurethane finish.)
And finally, check out how to apply the finish:
- To avoid dripping, apply the finish with a lamb’s wool applicator in smooth, even lines
- Consider 4 coats of a water-based finish or 3 coats of an oil based finish
- After each coat dries, sand the floor lightly with 200-grit paper or #0000 steel wool. (Most finishes take 24 hours to dry.) Remember to vacuum between each sanding.
- Reattach the moulding when the finish dries completely.
Just like that, after a weekend of sanding and vacuuming, your floors are better than when they were new!