Hardwood Floor Refinishing Tips

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Hardwood Floor Refinishing is a tough job, but worth it for your home.


Hardwood floors offer an elegant look for modern homes and a vintage look for restored homes.  Hardwood is beautiful, interesting, and offers personality to your home.  Hardwood floors also add value to your home.  If you’ve had hardwood floors since your home was original or if you’ve decided to pull up carpet and revitalize the wood underneath, you may need some hardwood floor refinishing tips.


Do I Need to Refinish My Floors?

First, you’ll want to determine how extensive the refinishing will be. Here’s a test to find out the condition of your hardwood floor:

  • If a drop of water beads or soaks in slowly, you may get by with a good cleaning and polishing.
  • If a drop of water soaks in immediately, the wood fibers may already be exposed and the floor needs refinishing.
  • If the floor is warped, deeply stained, squeaky or damaged, you’ll need to make repairs, and refinish.

Dealing with Light Scratches.

If your floor has scratches, but they do not go all the way through the wood, you can scuff sand them and apply a couple of coats of new finish.  To accomplish this, you’ll need a buffer, which can be rented at a local home store.  Buff the floors removing the shallow scratches then use a vacuum to clean up the dust.  After the finished is roughed up, you can apply a water-based polyurethane, which can be recoated in just a few hours. An oil-based polyurethane may be a cheaper alternative, however, each coat may take up to eight hours to dry.

How Much Wood Could A Wood Refinisher Chuck.

If the floor is scratched of more severely damaged, complete refinishing will be necessary.  A hardwood floor can only be refinished so many times, since each refinishing removes more wood. Since the sanding process can remove a lot of surface, your floor needs to be at least 3/4″ thick.  If your floor is thinner than 3/4″, you may want hire a pro to avoid accidentally sanding down to the subfloor.  A tongue and groove floor cannot be sanded as many times as a plank floor.  Some newer floors are as thin as 1/4″ and cannot be refinished.  If your hardwood floor is underneath another floor covering, the old floor needs to be removed.

If you have severe gaps or cracks in the wood, you may choose to fill these.  Wood does expand and contract, depending on the weather, so deciding which gaps and cracks to fill is a personal choice.  Just make sure you apply fillers, before sanding the floor. You’ll want to remove everything from the room and sweep before getting started.  If you’ve removed carpet to get to the wood, make sure to remove any carpet staples and also use a hammer to sink any exposed nails that could damage a sanding machine.

Here are some other tools you will need for this project.

  • drum sander 
  • floor edger 
  • buffer 
  • orbital/ palm sander 
  • putty knife and scraper 
  • shop vacuum 
  • ear protection, dust masks, safety goggles
  • lamb’s wool and natural bristle brush, or foam applicators, tack cloths

Be Careful With The Drum Sander

A drum sander is a big, loud, and unruly piece of equipment.  It can get out of your control quickly if you’re not careful or paying attention.  Also, do not let a drum sander sit in any one spot.  It can easily gouge, burn, or swirl the surface of your floor, creating a lot of frustration and extra work.  Make sure you begin with the sander off the floor then lower it slowly to the surface.  Start with a coarse (20 to 60) grit paper.  Once you’ve complete sanding the entire floor with the coarse paper, move to a finer grit, say 120, and sand the floor again, smoothing it up.

Once you’re happy with your sanded surface, you can apply a clear sealer, or choose your favorite tint of stains.  Make sure to follow proper application instructions for your choice of stain.  This Old House contractor Tom Siva, offers some great tips for applying finish.

Hardwood floor refinishing is a tough, dirty job.  It can be accomplished with the proper tools, which are available for rental at most home improvement stores.  If it all seems too daunting, you may choose to hire a professional to refinish your floor.

If you don’t currently have hardwood floors, but you’ve always dreamed of having them in your home, Carolina Flooring Services offers a great selection of new hardwood flooring and also offers installation.  Contact Carolina Flooring Services today for a consultation.

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