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How-To Refinish Hard Wood Flooring


by Saad Malik


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First clear room of all furnishings, rugs, etc. Removing wall coverings such as pictures, knickknacks, curtains and the like may reduce cleaning of dust later on, and is optional. Sweep or vacuum the floor to be sanded to pick up household dirt, pet hair and grit. Check the floors for nails, tacks or other debris that might rip the sandpaper. Hammer down any loose nails or tacks. Remove any moldings, baseboard or shoe molding so the sander doesn’t damage it. Remove any floor grates for heating duct and or a/c vents along with any other objects that might be in the way. Expect the floors to be unusable for 2 to 3 days, especially once the finishing process has begun.

Tools: Floor Sander and edger, Coarse, medium and fine sandpaper, Wide Brooms, Shop Vacuum, Dust masks, Gloves, Floor wax or Polyurethane finish, Wood Stain (optional) Rags, brushes and rollers

Renting a Sander: Check with your local home improvement store or other equipment rental store for their options on drum and orbital sanders. This retailer will also have some of the other equipment you need, such as dust mask, gloves and sandpaper that fits the exact machine you are renting, etc. Ask for a demonstration on how to use the machine and practice sanding a piece of plywood or other scrap wood before attempting on the floor.

Begin Sanding: Once the floor preparation is complete and you have rented the proper equipment, begin sanding the floor begin with the coarse sandpaper. Typically a #36 grit paper to start. Use the sander in a straight motion moving with the grain of the wood. If you sand against or across the grain, you can create damage that is irreparable. When sanding, keep the machine moving, at all times. An idle sander will create gouges or low spots in the wood. If you create a gouge, go over the section again to smooth out the area. Sand the entire floor once, sweep and vacuum the floor, dust then change to the next grit of sandpaper. Usually in the order of 36, 60, 80 then 100 grit papers. This will create the smoothest flooring surface possible for the finish. After all sanding is complete, sweep and/or vacuum the floor again to pick up any flooring dust that remains in preparation for staining.

Staining The Floor: if you have chosen to finish the floor in the natural color of the wood species, you may skip this section and go directly to finishing. Be sure to clean the floor again just prior to applying stain. Use a tack-rag to pick up the finest dust particles to insure the optimal finish. Ventilation during staining is very important. Open windows and use fans to move the air. Stain has a very strong odor which can be overpowering and make you feel dizzy. Test a small portion of the stain in an unseen area of the floor. Use a rag to apply the stain, wait 5 minutes or so for it to dry and check the color. If you are happy with the color, continue finishing the floor. Use a rag to apply light even coloring going with the grain. However, if you prefer, you may use a brush to apply the stain. Apply coats in long even strokes for the best coverage. Wait for stain to dry completely and apply additional coats as desired. When staining the floor, work from the farthest point in the room, backwards toward a door or other exit, so that you don’t have to walk across the tacky stain to leave the room while the coat is drying. Touch up any areas of the floor that appear uneven and then wait for the floor to completely dry before applying the finish coat.

Finishing the floor: Be sure to stir the polyurethane before applying it to the floor. Stirring rather than shaking will eliminate air bubbles that will ruin the finish layer of the floor. Apply the polyurethane with a brush or roller for even distribution. Be sure to apply each coat going with the grain to avoid marks in the finish. Allow each coat to dry for a few hours before moving to the next layer. Give the final coat a dry time of up to eight hours before walking on the floor. The floor must set for at least 3 days before moving furniture or rugs back into the room. Heavy items will create dents in the finish and the rugs my stick to the tacky finish if not left to completely dry.

Source by Joey Baker

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