Should you refinish hardwood floors yourself and if so, when is the best time to do it? These are just a couple of questions that newbies often ask themselves when it comes to keeping their wood floors looking their best.
Hardwood flooring is subject to so much abuse on any given day and, if your home sees a lot of foot traffic on a regular basis, the surface will become dull and sustain multiple impacts like scratching, dents, and discoloration from direct sunlight.
Newbies who have never refinished anything up until now could be in for a rough ride. It’s true that you can save a boatload of cash doing the work yourself, but many homeowners choose to hire a professional contractor like N-Hance Wood Refinishing in Richmond so they know the work will be done right.
For those DIY’ers who like to tackle the toughest jobs themselves, there are some basic factors that need to be carefully considered, particularly for those of you who have never performed this type of work before. So listen up newbies, we’re going to explain wood refinishing so you don’t damage your flooring by mistake.
Time to Refinish or Not?
Here is where you start, does your flooring actually need to be refinished? Too many newbies mistake a perfectly aged hardwood floor for one that needs work. Wood floors are supposed to be given the opportunity to age properly which may include the development of a litany of imperfections. Small scrapes or dents are intended to give the wood some character.
“Grain” is an important word that you’re going to hear a lot about as you embark upon this undertaking to refinish your wood flooring. The various patterns and other abnormalities in the surface that have developed are supposed to be there. It’s only when your wood flooring is starting to look dirty, unkempt, and damaged that you need to consider refinishing your hardwood.
Small, shallow scrapes along the surface are not a cause for concern. But flooring that has sustained some amount of explicit damage such as broken boards or water saturation, you may need to have replacement work done. But for impacts that are far less destructive, things like worn away finish and discolors portions in various areas, you may need to refinish your wood floor.
So take a walk around your home and determine whether or not you need to actually refinish your floor or if some touch-ups here and there to apply some finish will get the job done. Remember, doing a full refinish of your wood flooring can be extremely inconvenient and lead to total upheaval of your house for days.
Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors
So you’ve determined that it is, indeed, time to refinish those hardwood floors. Now the question is what kind of refinishing project are you looking at here?
You pretty much have just two options, one for those floors that don’t have deep damage and another for floors that need some serious help. Let’s take a look at your two options and see which one fits your situation best:
Buffing Your Floors
The floor shows some scrapes and scratches as part of an overall pattern of mild wear and tear along the surface. But beneath the finish, the wood is in good to excellent condition and no major problems exist. For this type of situation, buffing is the way to go. It’s also the simplest method of refinishing your wood flooring.
You will need a buffing machine of some kind and multiple different gauge grits to help you return the luster of topcoat to your flooring. Most buffing tools are easy to use and you can rent them from a number of sources. Once you’ve completed the buffing process, you can then move on to the next phase of the job: refinishing.
Just be careful if you have used a wax or oil soap on your floors previously. If you start buffing your flooring without first removing that wax or oil soap, you will get a badly spotted or discolored finish.
For most floors, you can go with a water-based, low VOC finish or use a polyurethane option. These are not wildly expensive to purchase and you should be able to complete the whole job in a small amount of time, based on how much flooring you have in the home.
Sanding Your Floors
If your floors have wear and tear or damage well beyond the surface finish, you’ll need to do a bit more work. Buffing won’t help, you’ll need to get a drum sander and give the entire floor the once-over. Again, you’ll need a succession of grits to clear away all evidence of damage but be careful with that sander, if you don’t keep it moving constantly you’ll carve a deep gouge into your floor.
Careful near the walls, you’ll want an orbital sander to get the edges sanded down properly. Continue doing all of this until you reach bare wood. From there, get the correct color wood fill and take care of any deep cracks, then stain the wood and apply multiple coats of finish.