Important Steps in Hardwood Floor Refinishing
31st July 2017
The rental of floor sanders at local hardware stores may give the impression that refinishing a hardwood floor is similar to renting a carpet cleaner and cleaning the living room carpet.
This is a mistake.
Hardwood floor refinishing is actually a task involving quite a few precise steps, each of which must be done correctly, or an unattractive and short-lived floor surface may be the result, and an expensive hardwood flooring installation may become even more expensive to fix.
The hallmarks of a badly done refinishing of a hardwood floor are grooves and low spots in the wood surface, finished surfaces with specks of wood dust and other debris embedded in it, uneven coloring of the wood grain, and un-fixed dents, dings, and damage which should have been repaired before the refinishing job was done.
Doing a perfect job of refinishing a hardwood floor takes experience, the right tools, and a good bit of muscle-power for maneuvering 100 lb. floor sanders and stooping down to attend to corners, wall intersections, and door thresholds using specialized, power hand-tools.
Applying oil-based finishes on hardwood floors is also a delicate task, involving wearing of respirators by workers to avoid exposure to fumes and having a steady and patient hand for getting the finish onto the wood evenly and without leaving brush marks.
Refinishing a hardwood floor is quite a bit more involved than cleaning a carpet.
Steps in Refinishing a Hardwood Floor
The first step in hardwood floor refinishing is verifying the floor is a solid hardwood floor. Some types of laminate and engineered flooring are especially good at imitating a solid wood look. Laminate and engineered flooring can be resurfaced and improved, but the methods for do it differ from solid hardwood floor refinishing. Taking a floor sander to a laminate or engineered floor can literally take the floor finish off completely and ruin the floor.
One way to see what kind of flooring is installed is by taking off a heating duct vent cover somewhere on the floor. These vents are usually set in place without any fasteners and can be easily pried up and lifted out. Then use a flash light and carefully inspect the inside edge of flooring material exposed in the vent hole below any carpeting.
This the flooring material is a laminate or engineered product, you will see a thinner layer at the top, sitting over a thicker layer underneath, and each layer will probably be a visibly different color. ‘Thin’ means under 1/16th of an inch, so look closely and use a good light. A backing layer at the bottom of the flooring, and other layers of Kraft paper in between, may also be visible, if the flooring is a laminate or engineered floor type.
Solid wood flooring, whether it is hardwood or softwood, will not show any layering as described above, although the side of the plank may be a different color than the surface, due to waxes and finishes.
Once it is determined that a floor is solid hardwood, here are the steps for refinishing:
- Furniture, carpets, wall hangings, heating vent covers, and all other objects must be removed from the room, and doorways, window openings, fireplaces, and other openings must be covered with plastic sheeting to keep dust from leaving the room.
- Baseboards and door molding must be labeled, carefully removed, and stored out of the way.
- The entire floor must be inspected for staples, nails, and damage, and any needed repairs completed. Nail heads must be set below the floor surface with a nail set.
- The floor is then sanded at least three times with progressively finer sandpaper to remove all old finishes and to make the surface perfectly even and smooth. The main area is done with a large floor sander, and corners and edges are done with small, hand-held power sanders. Between each sanding, the floor and room are thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned of dust.
- Finally, a stain or another finish or a sealer is applied evenly to the cleaned surface, according to product instructions. Finishes may need to be applied in several coats, allowing for drying between coats.
Accent on Floors in Hopewell, Virginia is a leading flooring specialist in the greater Tri Cities and Richmond area. Hardwood floor refinishing is one of our many services and areas of expertise, and we would be happy to give you a quote for the cost of refinishing hardwood floors in your home or business.