Is It Difficult To Refinish A Hardwood Floor?

Is it difficult to refinish a hardwood floor? Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a lot of work. Many people choose to refinish their own wood floors and are successful. Refinishing a hardwood floor is time...

Many people choose to refinish their own wood floors and are successful. Refinishing a hardwood floor is time consuming and it is hard work. Once the sanding process begins, the room must not be used until the process is complete, or the floor could be permanently damaged. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the size of the room. Pre-finished flooring is much more difficult to refinish than flooring that has been finished on site.

The first step is checking for needed repairs. Some floors will need more than refinishing. Of course the room must be cleared and anything covering the wood floor must be removed. Before the room is prepared it is a good idea to make sure that the floor can still be sanded. Beki Willis has been repairing, restoring and remodeling homes in the greater Austin area since 1989. She says, "Most hardwood floors can take two or maybe three sandings. If you are trying to do something besides just changing the color, and if you want to really refinish them, you should use caution. Most hardwood floors have probably been down since at least the 40s and have been probably sanded at least once." Floors that are already showing nail heads should not be sanded again.

"You can sand it down with a drum sander that sands the floor and brings up fresh wood surface. It makes all of the planks even. You will be able to tell if you start seeing nail heads that you can't sand it any deeper than that," says Beki. Most people choose to rent, rather than buy a drum sander. Sanding is very dusty and requires wearing a dust mask and eye protection. Once the sanding process begins the floor is very vulnerable to stains from spills or dirty shoes. It is imperative to protect the floor from traffic at this point to prevent permanent damage. In most cases three passes of the sander will be required. The first pass with the sander should be done with a coarse grit, the second a medium grit and the third a fine grit.

The sander will not reach the edges of the room, near walls and corners. An edge sander, which can also be rented, will reach these areas. Between the medium and fine sandings any cracks and gouges should be filled, and any protruding nails heads should be removed. After the fine grit sanding it may also be necessary to use a palm sander around the edges of the room. Once the sanding is complete the floor should be buffed before staining.

Staining and finishing are the final steps. The floor must be clean and dust free before staining. During this part of the process the room must be well ventilated, but at the same time, airflow should be kept to a minimum so that dust and other particles do not float into the stain and the finish. This can be a difficult balance to maintain.

Several coats of stain and finish may be required, and the room absolutely must not be disturbed while these coats dry, or the finish will be marred.

Refinishing a hardwood floor can be very tedious and hard work. Some people prefer the do-it-yourself approach, but many things can go wrong so. Most people find it worth the money to hire a professional.

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