Refinishing Hard Wood Floors

With proper wood floor care, refinishing hard wood floors may be something you never need to experience. But if you buy an older home and discover an old floor beneath carpeting, know that refinishing old wood floors will restore them to their original glory -- maybe even better with today's durable finishes.

Many home repair television shows have represented that refinishing hard wood floors can be a do-it-yourself project. As with installing wood floors, however, many find it's a job that is better left to the professionals. Let's take a look at the process, so you can make that decision for yourself.

It should be noted that the process used in refinishing hard wood floors is nearly the same as finishing a newly installed wood floor. It should also be noted that this only applies to solid hardwood flooring. A laminate hard wood floor can not be refinished.

Before sanding hard wood floors, minor cracks between the boards will be filled. Wood putty (such as plastic wood) will be applied with a putty knife. Any excess that is lying on top of the floor should be scraped off and will be completely smoothed out in the sanding process.

As with most crafts, the proper tool for the job is a necessity and refinishing hard wood floors is no different. Sanding to remove old finish (or to prepare your new wood for stain and finishing) is done with a drum sander and edger. (It should be noted that although some rental companies do have these machines available, they rarely have the same power or are of the same quality a flooring professional would use.)

When you restore old wood floors, or finish your new ones, they will be sanded at least twice. The first sanding will be with a rough grit paper to remove the old finish and even out the minor imperfections in the wood. A second sanding with a fine grit paper will follow.

After sanding, the floor will need to be buffed as a final preparation for the stain and finish. Again, the proper tool for the job is a must and the ideal tool is a professional grade floor buffer with a fine grade screen; this will seal the grain in the floor.

If you have chosen a stain for your floor, it will be applied next. Remember that you may be limited here, based on the species of wood used for your floor. Maple hard wood floors do not accept stain; pine hardwood flooring is not a good candidate for staining either. After the stain has had time to dry (this varies depending on whether water or oil-based finishing products are used) two coats of finish should be applied to floor. Before the last coat, the floor will be buffed again. This will leave your final coat smooth and clear.

As long as you protect the new finish with proper wood floor care, you will not have to refinish the floor again unless you want to change the color of the stain. In the future, when the finish becomes dull, you will able to simply have new coat of finish applied. Hopefully you are able to see that when refinishing hard wood floors, it is well worth the time and effort.

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