How to Get Started on Refinishing Hardwood Floors
By Rob Buenaventura
Hardwood is among the most efficient and cosmopolitan flooring materials for homes. It gives off a very classic yet stylish finish that can last for decades. While hardwood flooring is reminiscent of old palaces in Europe and early American homes in the south, it still very much fits into modern homes.
But one slight drawback of having hardwood floors is it wears off over time. While the hardwood floor may last a lifetime, its polished finish may become dull and damaged as a result of overuse. This wearing off can be greatly observed on hardwood floors located in parts of the house with high foot traffic.
Worn off and dilapidated hardwood floors are not only unpleasant to the eye, they are difficult to clean as well. This holds true particularly for hardwood floors that have polishes or coatings which are chipping away. In short, preserving the beauty and luster of hardwood floors depend on periodic maintenance or refinishing.
However, it is good to note that not all the dullness or chipping away of your hardwood floor would require a total refinishing job. Sometimes, all you need is plain old water and cloth to bring back the shine on your wooden floor. Luckily, there is a way of checking whether it is time for you to just stand and use the mop or start moving your furniture and get on your knees.
First thing you should do is to go to the hardwood floor that is most often used. Then drench this part with water, maybe a tablespoon or two. Then observe.
If the water suddenly forms into small beads, this means the protective polish of your hardwood floor is still working and you do not need a full scale refinishing; a wipe of wet cloth or stain remover is all it takes to bring back the shine. However, if the water percolated into the floor and caused it to become darker in color, the coating is already ruined and it is time for you to do hardwood floor refinishing.
Hardwood floor refinishing is not a walk in the park. It is always best to hire the services of flooring professionals who have both the knowledge gained from actual experience and power tools to refresh your over worn hardwood floor. Nonetheless, if you like to refinish your floor by doing it yourself, you can start by going over the tips below.
First, measure the area of the hardwood floor you would like to refinish. Usually, floors measuring less than or equivalent to fifty square feet can be sanded manually. Sanding paper and a good pair of kneepads will help you finish the job. However, if the floor you are about to refinish is more than fifty square feet; you will definitely need a power sander unless you want to sacrifice your kneecaps and joints.
Second, after taking out all the furniture and fixture that will likely obstruct your refinishing work area, strike out the old coating on the floor, which is usually made of wax, varnish or paint. Wax covering can be easily eliminated by using ordinary wax stripper; while varnish or petroleum-based floor lamination can be removed by acetone or lacquer thinner. Removing the hardwood coating will prepare the floor for sanding.
Third, never forget to remove nails and carpet tacks sticking out on the floor surface. Nails and tacks not only ruin sandpaper and power sander, they can harm your hands as well. Furthermore, nails and tacks that are not properly dislodged can seriously wreck your hardwood refinishing designs. After removing these things, remember to finish off the holes they left with commercial wood filler of matching color.
Fourth, after sanding the entire hardwood surface, wipe it using damp floor mop or cloth. It is better if you can procure a resin-coated cloth, which is available in your nearest hardware shop; this special material can easily take out microscopic dust pieces better than vacuum cleaners.
Finally, after the floor has dried, you can start applying a fresh coating of wax, varnish or paint. For instance, three coats of varnish are advisable. Allow the coating to dry and sand the floor lightly after each of the three applications. Before you call it a day, do not forget to again wipe the freshly refinished hardwood floor with damp or resin-coated cloth to bring out the shine.
About the Author
Rob Buenaventura is a successful webmaster and publisher of HardwoodScene.com. He provides a website on refinishing hardwood floors and tips on hardwood flooring.
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