To refinish a hardwood floor, the first thing you need to do is sand off the old finish. You need a walk-behind floor sander, which you can rent. You also want to rent a handheld power edge sander for sanding tight against walls and in corners and doorways. Both units have a vacuum and dust bag system to minimize the amount of sanding dust left behind.
How To Refinish Hardwood Floors?
Sanding Hardwood Floor
A walk-behind sander has a large rotating drum that evenly removes the finish — if you use the correct series of sandpaper grades and operate the sander properly.
Rental stores have the three grades of sandpaper you need for successful floor refinishing: coarse, medium, and fine. For safety, wear a dust mask and eye and ear protection. It’s best to hire experts rather than DIY as you can make mistakes since you are not a pro.
After you’ve completed all the sanding, you must remove all the dust from the floor, molding, and walls. Wipe down the walls and moldings once to get the dust onto the floor, and then use a damp rag on the moldings to remove any residue.
You don’t want any dust falling onto the floor later, when the new finish is drying. Let the dust settle, and then vacuum. A standard shop vacuum with a dust filter will do the trick.
After you vacuum, wipe the entire floor surface with a tack cloth, a wax-impregnated piece of cheesecloth designed to pick up and hold dust residue. Plan to use several tack cloths — don’t overextend the cloths’ dust-holding capacity.
How Long Does It Take To Refinish Hardwood Floors
It usually only takes about 2 days to refinish hardwood floors with water based polyurethane. (Some places will do it in 1 day, but I would recommend staying away from those places…it will last longer if you allow more drying time, and each coat needs an extra 2-4 hrs to dry.)
What Are The Types Of Finishes For Hardwood Flooring?
When thinking of how to refinish old hardwood floors, remember, durability is also an issue. Your choices are:
Varnish: Varnish comes in a variety of lusters, from matte to glossy. The higher the gloss, the more durable the surface. Varnish often darkens with age. On the up side, you can make spot-repairs to varnish.
Penetrating sealer: This offers a natural-looking finish that brings out the wood’s grain; however, it may darken over time. Penetrating sealer offers good protection, especially when waxed. However, it’s less durable than polyurethane or varnish. It’s the easiest of the three to spot-repair, though.
Polyurethane: Either oil – or water-based, polyurethane comes in various degrees of luster and has a sort of plastic look. Both finish types darken or even yellow wood, although some newer water-based products don’t darken as much.
Poly finishes are excellent for high-traffic and high-moisture areas. However, if the finish gets nicked or gouged, it’s extremely difficult to spot-repair.
Ideally, you want to seal the floor on the same day you finish sanding to prevent the open wood surface from absorbing moisture. For best results, apply the stain (if desired) and sealer with a sheepskin applicator.
Be sure to apply the sealer evenly, and use enough to cover the surface. But be careful not to apply too much. Excess sealer doesn’t soak into the wood — it pools on the surface. If you fail to remove it, it leaves an ugly, ugly spot.
Can All Hardwood Floors Be Refinished?
You may be on the fence about your decision to refinish your hardwood floors because you wonder if your floors are a candidate for refinishing. The truth is, not all hardwood floors can be refinished.
Your flooring installer is the best person who can guide you on this.
Although most common problems can be addressed and fixed without replacing the entire floor, there are some exceptions. Consider the following to make an informed decision.
Related Article: How To Get Started With Hardwood Floor Refinishing
What Flooring Damage Can’t Be Refinished Away?
- Structural Damage– These problems need to be addressed directly, which usually requires ripping up the floor to get a good look at the frame of the floor. If you think you may be looking at under floor damage, you may not be able to sand, stain, and refinish your existing flooring.
- Movement – Refinishing the floor with boards that wiggle and move around a lot will only make things worse. You’ll end up with even bigger gaps between the floorboards and an unsightly mess.
- Severe Flooring Damage– If more than 30% of the boards have sustained damage such as warping, chipping, ugly stains, or termite infestation, the time, effort, and money spent replacing that much of the floor would be exceedingly cumbersome — a replacement would make more sense.
- Extreme Wear– If the floor has been refinished too many times before, you will begin to see the grooves in the planks and nails. Even if this is only visible in some areas, sanding the wood down will no doubt reveal more problems, making replacement more of a requirement than a choice.
If you’re still not sure, consult flooring professional if wondering about how much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors, they can guide you on the same.